GAINESVILLE, Florida (USA TODAY) - Florida junior defensive back Loucheiz Purifoy announced on Monday that he will forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft early.
Purifoy is rated a first-round draft pick by many of the experts. He is expected to go as high as the first 20 picks as a defensive back with the ability to return kicks, as well.
ESPN's Todd McShay has rated the 6-foot, 185-pound Purifoy as the fifth-best defensive back in the draft and the 26th overall pick.
"I have had a great three years at the University of Florida, but at this time I think it's best for me and my family to pursue a career in the NFL,'' Purifoy said. "Coach (Will) Muschamp and Coach (Travaris) Robinson have put me in a position to take the next step. I know there is still a lot of work for me ahead, but I appreciate what everyone at Florida did to get me to this point.
"As much as I look forward to playing in the NFL, I will miss my teammates and coaches and look forward to watching them play next year.''
The former Pensacola Pine Forest star had his second career interception in last Saturday's 37-7 loss to Florida State, with the Gators finishing 4-8 this season,
He had 24 tackles, two interceptions, seven pass breakups and a sack this year. Overall he had 102 tackles in his career.
Expected to play some offense this year as well, he was stalled by injury problems.
"There are a lot of factors that go into making these individual and personal decisions and I'm 100 percent supportive of Loucheiz's choice to enter into the NFL draft,'' Muschamp said. "Loucheiz has come a long way from when I sat in his living room with his family during the recruiting process and he also knows his work is not done.
"We wish him nothing but the best of luck and watching him on Sundays. As we have with other former Gators, we encourage him to return to Florida and finish his degree."
Purifoy's best game this season came in Florida's 30-10 win over Arkansas in which he forced a fumble on a sack and returned his first career interception 42 yards for a touchdown.