Matt Jones leaving Florida Gators early

When the Florida Gators take the field in 2015 they will be without their leading rusher from this season as junior running back Matt Jones has decided to leave school early for the NFL, Gator Country has learned through multiple sources.

Jones carried the ball 166 times for 817 yards in 2014 — both team highs — and scored six touchdowns. Over three seasons Jones rushed 297 times for 1,431 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Will Muschamp and the Gators coaching staff maintains that they advise players who will not be first round draft picks to return to school and try to improve their draft stock. However, with the new rules in the NFL leading to pass happy offenses, most teams are choosing not to invest a first round pick in a running back, choosing to go with a stable of adequate backs rather than one bell cow in the backfield.

In 2014, Washington running back Bishop Sankey was the first back selected in the NFL Draft when the Tennessee Titans selected him with the 54th overall selection. It was the latest that the first running back has come off the board in NFL Draft history — breaking the mark that was set just one year earlier when Giovanni Bernard was selected with the 37th overall pick by the Cincinnati Bengals.

Making the decision easier for Jones are two factors that cannot be ignored. First, he has a young daughter and the opportunity to start making money and being able to financially provide for her was a big factor that played into his decision. Second, Jones has already had two knee surgeries (one in high school) and has battled injures throughout his career at Florida. He is mostly healthy now after splitting reps with Kelvin Taylor and being on a “pitch count” for reps in practice.

Jones is likely to be picked in the middle rounds of the draft.

Gator Country has learned that Jones is currently working on lining up an agent and a facility to train at in preparation for the NFL combine and draft.

Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC


  1. Nah…I guess it makes sense, I get it. Totally understand Fowler as well. For anyone else, the idea would be silly. I keep hearing Humphrys, Bullard and Morrison as possibilities too. Makes no sense to me, but hey it’s not my decision

  2. That’s three now, Fowler, Moore, and Jones, and it’s just the first of December. I expect more to come and some transfers too. Sarvary, a guy who was expected to be a contributor on the offensive line, has ended his career due to concussions. Moore and Jones may not even be drafted. Like Purifoy and Roberson last year, the advice to stay if you aren’t a first or second round draft choice seems to be ignored completely. Humphries, Bullard, and Morrison are three more that come to mind that won’t be early draft picks but may leave early anyway. The silver lining is that the new coach will be able to sell early playing time to recruits because a lot of true freshmen are going to have to play, ready or not.

    • I don’t think Jones or Moore get drafted. Moore already graduated so even If he doesn’t make an nfl team he still can earn income. In the past drafts guys with far more impressive careers and similar measurables – Kadeem carry with 4000 yards and 48 tds and Andre Williams with over 2000 yards in one season were mod round picks. Too bad for Jones.