Shortly after Jelani Jenkins announced his plans to declare for the 2013 NFL Draft, there were whispers he could change his mind.
Even a pair of GatorCountry.com sources said it was not quite a “done deal” as coaches and teammates were apparently trying to convince the Florida Gators’ junior linebacker into returning for his senior season.
After all, third-year college players have until Jan. 18 to change their minds, as long as they don’t sign with an agent.
That last part is the kicker. Jenkins slammed the door shut on any opportunity to return by signing with a sports agent on Thursday. Jenkins tweeted about — with pictures — being in California this week.
Forbes Magazine sports business writer and founder of the Sports Agent Blog Darren Heitner tweeted that Jenkins has signed with Joby Branion, a NFL certified agent with Athletes First in Irving, Calif. Among others, Branion represents South Carolina defensive end/outside linebacker Melvin Ingram, the 18th overall pick in last year’s draft.
Athletes First is among the top NFL agencies as it represented 13 players — tied for the second most of any agency — selected in the 2012 NFL Draft. That included four first-round picks such as Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin, who played for Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease at Boise State.
Of the four Florida juniors who have declared, Jenkins was the only one that, according to our sources, had a slim chance of changing his mind. He may have been “all-in” all along in his mind, but the fact we had heard from more than one source that people were trying to talk him into staying made it something worth watching.
While safety Matt Elam and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd are projected to go in the top two rounds, there are a few questioning the decisions of Jenkins and tight end Jordan Reed because they were not projected to go as highly by a few NFL draft websites.
As we mentioned in another article, those sites are not the end-all, be-all authority on where these guys actually will be drafted. Only the players and their inner circle know exactly what feedback these guys received from the NFL College Advisory Committee and what all factors weighed into their decisions.
For instance, a source close to Reed said he was informed he likely wouldn’t have improved his draft standing much if he had decided to stay at Florida, which would have been his fifth year at the school after he redshirted as a true freshman in 2009.
According to Heitner, Reed has signed with NFL agent Mike George. Another Florida player, senior safety Josh Evans, also has decided on representation as he signed with Malik Shareef of Dimensional Sports.
Sahreef represents former Florida Gators defensive back Janoris Jenkins, a second-round selection by the St. Louis Rams in last April’s draft.
Floyd and Gators senior linebacker Lerentee McCray have signed with the agency SportsStars Inc., which led the way with 20 selections in the 2012 draft, including two first-rounders. They will be represented by Brian Mackler and Jonathan Perzley, a UF graduate.
The three-day, 2013 NFL Draft is scheduled to run April 25-27.