Playing football at the University of Florida is a dream come true for those that get the privilege to don the Orange and Blue. It is also a stepping stone for those fortunate enough to get to continue their football careers at the professional level, particularly the National Football League.
There were 39 former Gators on NFL rosters for week 1 of the regular season. Some are on the practice squad or are not eligible to play right now, but the majority suited up and hit the gridiron representing 22 of the 32 NFL teams.
Two of the standouts from last week have a couple of BCS National Championship rings in their display cases. Percy Harvin of the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks had 160 all-purpose yards (59 receiving, 41 rushing, 60 return). He is looking to rebound from last year’s injury plagued season and be as dominant as he was during his time as a Gator.
Caleb Sturgis scored 15 points by converting 4-4 field goal attempts and kicking three extra points for the Miami Dolphins. Sturgis was one of the most successful kickers in Florida history on his way to being a 5th round draft pick in last year’s NFL Draft.
Defense may be the highlight of former Gators in the NFL. Reggie Nelson, a safety for the Cincinnati Bengals recorded 10 tackles including seven solo and one tackle-for-loss. He was a 1st round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars back in 2007 after a standout 2006 season in which he was a First-Team All-SEC and consensus All-American selection.
The first former Gator selected in the 2014 draft was Dominque Easley of the New England Patriots. He had one tackle last week after missing all of last season with the Gators with an injury.
Solomon Patton was an undrafted free agent who signed a contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He had two kick returns for 52 yards and four punt returns for 56 yards in his NFL debut.