Explaining decisions to leave

Jenkins was injured multiple times in 2012

There was no criticism for defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd or safety Matt Elam for their decisions to forgo their senior seasons to enter the NFL Draft. Their production over three years warranted that selection. But after Jordan Reed was the top pass catcher for a vertically challenged offense and Jelani Jenkins fought through an injured year, their decisions didn't make as much sense to most.

It came down to making the decision that both felt was best for them. For Jelani Jenkins, the risk of returning to school and suffering another injury during the 2013 season was in the back of his mind. He already had tape to show NFL teams from the 2011 season and a few healthy ones from the 2012 season, so he decided it was time to leave Gainesville and start his professional career.

The thought of returning for his senior season and going to the next level after a healthy season was in his mind, but the risk was too great.

"That was definitely something I thought about," Jenkins said about potentially returning. "It definitely would have been a lot worse if I came back and got hurt again and it pushed me down even more. That was definitely a role in it, but at the same time a lot of other things were a factor, too."

Jenkins was vague in most of his descriptions about the other reasons to go, but he was ready to start his professional career. He played in just nine games as a redshirt freshman, making 29 tackles and five tackles for a loss. He added two sacks, two quarterback hurries and one interception.

The injuries were the problem. He fractured his thumb at Texas A&M during the second week of the season and returned to face LSU in early October. During the game against the Tigers, Jenkins injured his hamstring and missed the next game against Vanderbilt. He battled some nagging injuries in the next game before breaking a bone in his right foot against Florida State.

That kept him out of the Sugar Bowl against Louisville, and he made his decision to leave school early soon after that. Jenkins now says he's "as close to 100-percent as I'm going to get." As he continues to prepare for the draft, Jenkins is working to boost his stock. He went through drills on Tuesday and was told his best 40 time was 4.78.

"I've been training, doing treatment all since after the Sugar Bowl," Jenkins said. "It's coming along well. It felt good today, though."

The reason for Jordan Reed was different. He saw a shift happening in the NFL. The league is going to more of a passing league and targeting pass catching tight ends instead of attached blockers. It's a perfect fit for Reed, who led the Gators with 559 yards through the air and added three touchdowns.

"That's the type of tight end I am," Reed said. "I'm a pass-catcher, but I can do some things in the run game. If that's the way the NFL is going, that's a good thing for me."

Reed acknowledged that he could've come back to Gainesville for another season and taken another step forward. Will Muschamp and offensive coordinator Brent Pease both harped on the need to become a better passing team in 2013, and Reed would've been a big part of that as Jeff Driskel heads into his second year as the starting quarterback.

However, the former quarterback felt like he had enough on film to take the leap into the NFL and start his professional career.

"Tight ends usually don't go in the first round a lot. So the grade I got back -- second or third round -- is a pretty good grade for a tight end. I don't think I'm going to improve it that much in one year. That's why I made the choice."

Reed ran a 4.72 40 at the NFL Combine while checking in at 6-3, 236 pounds. The time was a little disappointing compared to what he wanted, and he didn't run on Tuesday because he wanted more time to continue rehabbing from a bone bruise he suffered during the Sugar Bowl.

He'll work out for NFL scouts at a later date -- most likely on March 22 -- to show his athleticism and speed in the drills once he's fully healed. He has already heard from some NFL teams during interviews that he needs to get strong and work on his blocking, but Reed already knew that. His focus is showcasing his athleticism and ability to make plays after the catch.

"They see me and see my athleticism on film, and they want to see if it's like that in person," Reed said. That's why they came today, and I showed them what I can do."

PRIVATE WORKOUTS: Most of the draft-eligible Florida players were unsure of their private workouts or meetings with professional teams but some did have dates set up, starting soon.

Running back Mike Gillislee will work out with the Atlanta Falcons on Friday and then for the St. Louis Rams on April 2.

Defensive tackle Omar Hunter said he will have interview with the Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonvill Jaguars, Washington Redskins, Houston Texans and New Orleans Saints this week.

Jelani Jenkins has already scheduled private workouts with the Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins and Carolina Panthers but wasn't sure of the dates.

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