Tuesday May 13, 2014Seven Gators Reach Deals as Undrafted Free Agents
Following the 2014 NFL Draft, seven former University of Florida football players signed contracts as undrafted free agents with NFL teams. Including the Gators’ four draft picks, 11 players from the 2013 roster will have a chance to pursue their dreams of playing on Sundays in the NFL.
Trey Burton, who signed as a tight end, will join the Philadelphia Eagles along with fourth-round pick Jaylen Watkins and former Gator wide receiver Riley Cooper.
Another pair of Gators will stick together as the Buffalo Bills reached terms with defensive lineman Damien Jacobs and linebacker Darrin Kitchens. Former UF linebacker Brandon Spikes also signed with the Buffalo Bills this offseason after four seasons with the New England Patriots.
Wide receiver Solomon Patton joins three former Gators on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Patton’s former teammate Jeff Demps enters his second year with the Bucs, while veterans Louis Murphy and Major Wright signed as free agents this offseason.
Cornerback Marcus Roberson is set to join the St. Louis Rams, where he will rejoin former St. Thomas Aquinas High School teammate Lamarcus Joyner, who played collegiately at rival Florida State.
2014 GATORS IN THE NFL DRAFT
Dominique Easley – NewEngland Patriots, 1st Round (No. 29 overall)
Easley was playing as one of the most dominant defensive lineman in the country before an ACL injury cut his senior season short. He played in 32 games for the Gators and made 26 starts on the defensive line. He recorded 72 total tackles with 18 tackles-for-loss and 5.5 sacks in his career.
Jaylen Watkins – PhiladelphiaEagles, 4th Round (No. 101 overall)
Watkins was a multipurpose defensive back for the Gators, playing corner, nickel and safety. He appeared in 48 games in his career and made 28 starts. He was the team’s third-leading tackler in 2013 with 52 total tackles. In his career, he racked up 133 tackles with 21 pass breakups and 3 interceptions.
Ronald Powell – NewOrleans Saints, 5th Round (No. 169 overall)
Powell was a versatile member of UF’s defense last season, playing a hybrid linebacker/defensive end role. He led the team with 4.0 sacks in his final season and also had 7 tackles-for-loss and 8 quarterback hurries. Powell missed all of 2012 while recovering from a knee injury. In his career, he totaled 84 tackles, 19 tackles-for-loss and 11 sacks.
Jon Halapio – NewEngland Patriots, 6th Round (No. 179 overall)
Halapio was an ironman on the Gators’ offensive line the past four seasons, playing in 51 games and making 43 starts. In 2013, he played most of the season while recovering from a torn pectoral muscle suffered during the summer. He was voted a team captain for the 2013 season by his teammates.
2014 UNDRAFTED FREE AGENTS
Trey Burton –Philadelphia Eagles
Burton, known as a jack-of-all-trades, appeared in 50 games in his Gator career, making 29 starts at various positions. He recorded 976 receiving yards and 720 rushing yards for the Orange & Blue with 20 total touchdowns. When he made the move to wide receiver full time as a senior, he had career highs with 38 receptions for 445 yards and a score.
Jonotthan Harrison –Indianapolis Colts
Harrison took over as the starting center in 2011 and compiled 39 starts for the Gators while playing in 51 games. He was voted a team captain in 2013 and was one of just five players to start all 12 games on the season. He was twice named to the Rimington Trophy Watch List.
Damien Jacobs –Buffalo Bills
Jacobs joined the Gators in 2012 after spending two years at East Mississippi Community College. He played in 23 games at UF and started four times at defensive tackle. In his two seasons, he compiled 34 tackles with 6 tackles-for-loss and 2.5 sacks.
Darrin Kitchens –Buffalo Bills
Kitchens arrived on campus and immediately earned playing time on Florida’s vaunted special teams. He went on to play in 45 games and make six starts at linebacker, racking up 59 tackles with 4 tackles-for-loss.
Solomon Patton –Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Patton had one of the best years for a wide receiver in recent UF memory, totaling six touchdowns on 44 catches and racking up 556 receiving yards. He was named the team’s MVP in 2013 and was also voted a team captain. He set a school record in 2013 after averaging 27.7 yards per kickoff return.
Loucheiz Purifoy –Indianapolis Colts
Purifoy, who declared after his junior season, had a knack for making plays at UF, forcing five fumbles, blocking three kicks and intercepting two passes. He played in 37 games and made 19 starts at cornerback for the Gators, totaling 102 tackles, 12 pass breakups, 4.5 tackles-for-loss and 2.0 sacks.
Marcus Roberson – St. Louis Rams
Roberson battled injuries his junior season before declaring for the draft. In his career, he played in 30 games and made 18 starts at cornerback. He totaled 56 tackles and broke up 17 passes with 3 interceptions. He was named Second Team All-SEC in 2012 after finishing second in the SEC with 14 passes defended.