Florida Gators senior Lerentee McCray did not report this week for the East-West Shrine Game.
According to his agent, Florida grad Jonathan Perzley of SportStars Inc. in New York, McCray simply needs more rest before hitting the draft grind as hard as he hit eventual Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel on a game-changing sack in Florida’s 20-18 win at Texas A&M.
“He’s banged up from the season and he just needs to heal himself,” Perzley said. “He’s just not 100 percent, although he will be by the time the combine rolls around. But in terms of an all-star game, he really needed to get himself on track health-wise.”
The NFL Scouting Combine is scheduled for Feb. 20-26 in Indianapolis and will air on the NFL Network. The 2013 NFL Draft is April 25-27.
McCray, an Ocala, Fla., native who was an All-American out of Dunnellon High, started 12 of 13 games this season. The 6-foot-2, 249-pounder with 4.64 speed only missed the Missouri game with an ankle injury. McCray is a unique NFL prospect after switching from linebacker to the Gators’ hybrid “Buck” position this season. He recorded 65 tackles, including 12.5 for a loss, during his career.
One of those tackles for a loss was the sack on Manziel, which forced the Aggies to punt and served as a turning point in the Gators’ come-from-behind win. McCray bull rushed and then used his speed to blow by Texas A&M left tackle Luke Joeckel before chasing down the speedy Manziel from behind.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. projects Joeckel as the No. 1 overall pick by the Kansas City Chiefs in this year’s draft. CBSSports.com projects McCray as a “4-5” round selection, but strong performances during individual workouts and at the combine could increase his draft stock.
Representatives from UF and the Shrine game as well as both of McCray’s high school coaches either declined comment or were unsure about why McCray did not arrive for practices this week. His name has been removed from the East team’s official roster.
Further confusion came up when the Shrine Game’s official Twitter account tweeted a picture from practice that was labeled “#34 Lerentee McCray.” However, the picture has since been deleted and the Shrine Game has apologized for the mix up, citing that it was using last year’s roster.
That means only two Gators seniors will play in the game that is scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. Kicker Caleb Sturgis and safety Josh Evans both reported to practices this week.