Demarcus Robinson

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Keanu Neal joins Vernon Hargreaves, three others in leaving Gators for NFL

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Florida’s deep secondary loss will turn into the NFL’s gain once again.

Talented All-SEC cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III confirmed last month that he will be leaving the Gators early for the NFL.  A couple of days later, one of Hargreaves’ defensive backfield mates has followed suit.

“This was honestly the hardest decision I’ve ever made, but prayer and family support helped a lot. … It’s time to take the next step in my life and attain my dream,” safety Keanu Neal wrote in an Instagram post announcing that he will be leaving Gainesville early for the NFL.

A photo posted by Keanu Neal (@42problemz) on Jan 6, 2016 at 9:32am PST

The 6-1, 216-pound Neal started 21 games the past two seasons.  As a third-year junior this season, Neal was third on the team with 96 tackles.

Neal becomes the fifth Gator to declare early for the NFL, joining Hargreaves, running back Kelvin Taylor, defensive end Alex McCalister and wide receiver Demarcus Robinson.

Florida’s Kelvin Taylor, Demarcus Robinson and Alex McCalister entering 2016 NFL Draft

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Add three more names to the list of underclassmen declaring early for the 2016 NFL Draft. On Monday, Florida announced the early departures of running back Kelvin Taylor, wide receiver Demarcus Robinson and defensive end Alex McCalister. All three will join teammate Vernon Hargreaves III as early entrants to the NFL Draft next spring.

“I’m expecting those guys to play all-out,” Florida head coach Jim McElwain said in a released statement. “They’ve been working out. I think these guys have a pretty good feeling of they’ve got one more opportunity to be proud of what they put on film, to show their worth.”

Taylor, the son of former NFL running back Fred Taylor, has rushed for 985 yards and 13 touchdowns this season. Robinson is Florida’s second-leading wide receiver this season, catching a team-high 47 passes for 505 yards and two touchdowns. Freshman Antonio Callaway is the only receiver on the team with more receiving yards.

McCalister has appeared in nine games, missing the last three games due to a foot injury. In his time on the field, he has recorded 26 tackles, six and a half sacks and recovered two fumbles. He was already ruled out for Florida’s appearance in the Citrus Bowl against Michigan as a result of his foot injury.

Floria is also losing quarterback Will Grier to a transfer. Grier, suspended for one calendar year for a banned substance, was granted a release from his scholarship by Florida, McElwain confirmed.

“The one thing I’ll never do is make someone do something they don’t want to do,” McElwain said. “In life, sometimes a change of scenery is good. In this case, he’s going to go have a successful career and go on to play in the NFL. We’ll help him and support him in every way we can.”

Between the transfers and early NFL Draft entries, Florida will have some key spots to fill in the coming year.

Gator seniors allow leading receiver to return, status for SEC title game up in the air

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It appears Demarcus Robinson has crawled out of the doghouse, but whether he makes it onto the Georgia Dome field seems to be another matter entirely.

The wide receiver was suspended for Florida’s game this past Saturday against Florida State for what was termed as an unspecified violation of team rules.  With the SEC championship game on tap Saturday, head coach Jim McElwain revealed earlier this week that he would leave Robinson’s fate in the hands of his senior Gator teammates.

Those teammates have decided to welcome Robinson back to the team, with the receiver returning to practice Wednesday with the team.  Whether that means a return to the field remains to be seen as McElwain responded “[w]e’ll see what happens” when asked if the junior will play against the second-ranked Tide.

“Yeah, the seniors got together and have given him an opportunity (to return). He talked to the team,” the first-year coach said. “You know, it was a choice, like I said, for him not to be with his family and us in the last ball game. Sometimes the greatest lessons in life are when things are taken away from you and you’re no longer enabled.

“As I’ve said before, he has come a long way. But he still has a long way to go to understand it’s not OK to make choices that hurt your team.”

Robinson’s 47 receptions are tops on the team, while his 505 yards are second.  He led the team in both categories last season with 53 and 810, and in receiving touchdowns (seven) as well.

Robinson, who will likely leave Gainesville early for the NFL, has been suspended at least four times during his three seasons with the Gators.

Senior vote to determine SEC Championship status for suspended Gators WR Demarcus Robinson

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Just hours before kicking off against in-state rival Florida State, Florida announced wide receiver Demarcus Robinson had been suspended for the game for a violation of a unspecified team rule. Now, as the Gators prepare to take on Alabama in this week’s SEC Championship Game in Atlanta, the status of Robinson has yet to be determined. Florida head coach Jim McElwain says he will leave Robinson’s fate in the hands of his teammates, or at least the seniors.

“I’m going to visit with the seniors. They’ll determine which direction we’ll go,” McElwain said Monday, according to The Gainesville Sun.

“Look, he made a choice, OK. He made a choice,” McElwain said. “You know what, our family needs to make this decision and those guys are the leaders of our family.”

McElwain’s leaving a player’s fate up to the team is certainly not unprecedented. Les Miles of LSU was criticized at length for allowing the fate of players be handled by a team vote. There are pros and cons to allowing such decisions be handled in such a manner, and there may be no right way to go about it. On one hand, a coach allowing players to make these types of decisions may show trust in a team’s leaders, which can be good for morale and establishing trust. On the other hand, it may lead to players having their way and being disgruntled with a coach’s decision if they do not get a say. Of course, McElwian already stepped his foot down for the Florida State game.

Robinson is Florida’s second-leading receiver with 505 yards and two touchdowns this season.

DeMarcus Robinson, Gators’ leading receiver, suspended for FSU game

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With a game against in-state rival Florida State on tap, Florida won’t have one of its few offensive playmakers at its disposal.

On its Twitter account a short time ago, the No. 12 Gators announced that Demarcus Robinson has been suspended for tonight’s game against No. 13 Seminoles.  Specifically, the school tweeted that “Robinson made a choice and will not play in tonight’s game.”

The wide receiver was suspended for, of course, violating unspecified team rules.

Robinson’s 47 receptions are tops on the team, while his 505 yards are second.  He led the team in both categories last season with 53 and 810, and in receiving touchdowns (seven) as well.

Robinson, who will likely leave Gainesville early for the NFL, has been suspended at least four times during his three seasons with the Gators.