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Grossman to entrt NFL draft

  |   Jan. 4, 2003 at 7:57 PM
GAINESVILLE, Fla., Jan. 4 (UPI) -- Confirming a report earlier in the day, junior quarterback Rex Grossman late Saturday said he will declare for the NFL Draft this summer.

The decision, which means Grossman will forego his senior campaign in Gainesville, was rumored Saturday morning by ESPN.

The 6-1, 215-pounder, who was runnerup in balloting for the Heisman Trophy in 2001, will enter professional football after going 23-8 as a starter at Florida. In his three-year career as a Gator, the Bloomington, Ind., native competed 677-of-1,110 passes for 9,164 yards and 77 touchdowns with 36 interceptions. His pass efficiency rating was 147.25.

Grossman, 22, completed 287-of-503 pass attempts for 3,402 yards, with 22 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in 2002.

"I have made my decision to enter the 2003 NFL draft and forgo my senior year at the University of Florida," Grossman said. "It was a very difficult decision for me because I love being a Gator and the whole program has been so good to me. I would like to thank Coach (Ron) Zook, Coach (Steve) Spurrier, and Jeremy Foley for the opportunity they have given me. I would also like to thank the fans and all my teammates for all of their support. Once a Gator, always a Gator."

The Gators endured a disappointing season overall, finishing with an 8-5 record after a 38-30 loss to Michigan in the Capital One Bowl.

Grossman is third in SEC history with his 77 career touchdowns throws, and also has a school-record 17 career 300-yard plus passing games.

He ranked second in the SEC in both total offense per game (256.7) and passing yards per game (261.7).

This past season, he was a second-team All-SEC selection, and as a sophomore, he was a first-team All-America pick and earned first-team All-SEC honors for the second straight year.

"I will forever be grateful for having the opportunity to coach Rex Grossman," Zook said. "He is a tremendous player, leader and person. I've said this countless times during the season that Rex is worried about one thing when he is on the field and that is winning. Rex never got caught up in his numbers and he is as tough of a competitor as I've seen. Rex will always be a part of the Gator family and we wish him the best of luck in the future. I've always said that these type of decisions our individual decisions and I see my role was to provide information to help players make these decisions. I've spent a lot of time talking with different people in the NFL and shared that information with Rex and his family. After that, the decision is in his hands and I will support his decision."

Grossman will join a talented crop of quarterbacks that already includes Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer of Southern California and Byron Leftwich of Iowa.

Collegiate underclassmen have until 6 p.m. Eastern time on Jan. 15 to declare for the NFL Draft, and have until the same time on Jan. 18 to withdraw their names.

© 2003 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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