GAINESVILLE — Loucheiz Purifoy made it official Monday that he will be the Gators' first defection to the NFL.
With a mother battling multiple illnesses including serious heart and kidney trouble, the CB announced he will bypass his senior season and enter the NFL draft. The Pensacola native played in 35 games in his career, with 19 starts and 102 tackles.
"I have had a great three years at the University of Florida, but at this time I think it's best for me and my family to pursue a career in the NFL," Purifoy said. "Coach (Will) Muschamp and Coach (Travaris) Robinson have put me in a position to take the next step. I know there is still a lot of work for me ahead, but I appreciate what everyone at Florida did to get me to this point."
Purifoy, 6 feet, 183, has been projected by several NFL analysts as a first-round pick. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay lists Purifoy as the No. 5 DB available. In his final game as a Gator, he intercepted FSU's Jameis Winston in the first half. He completed the season with 24 tackles and two interceptions.
"There are a lot of factors that go into making these individual and personal decisions, and I'm 100 percent supportive of Loucheiz's choice to enter into the NFL draft," Muschamp said.
LB Ronald Powell, CB Marcus Roberson and WR Quinton Dunbar are expected to make decisions soon on whether to enter the draft.
PRATHER HONORED: It has been an outstanding start to the season for Gators senior F Casey Prather, and on Monday he was recognized by the SEC for his performances this past week. Prather was named co-SEC player of the week along with Mississippi State's Craig Sword.
He averaged 23 points and 4.5 rebounds in wins over Jacksonville and FSU this past week. Prather shot 73.9 percent (17-of-23), including an 11-of-13 effort against JU. Heading into Monday night's game at UConn, Prather was the team's leading scorer with 19.1 points and 5.1 rebounds.
"I think this is the first time I think where the game's slowed down for him, he's playing with a clearer head and understanding," coach Billy Donovan said. "He's a guy that probably the first couple of years in his career was really painful for him. He was a deer in the headlights a lot of times. The lights came on and he was very unsure of himself. And I think for him this year, he's playing to his strengths, he's not forcing shots, he's not trying to make plays that aren't there. He's been a lot more productive and selective. And I think the fact when you're a player and you know you're going to be on the floor, you know you're going to be out there, sometimes it's a little bit easier."
VOLLEYBALL HONORS: Four Gators were named to the All-SEC volleyball team, including Taylor Unroe, who became the Gators' first Libero of the Year and UF's second defensive award winner since Elyse Cusack was defensive player of the year in 2006. Freshman Alex Holston, senior Chloe Mann and sophomore Ziva Recek also made the team.
The Gators (27-3) are the No. 5 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament and will play Jacksonville (30-3) Thursday at 7 p.m. in the O'Connell Center. FSU (24-7) plays Georgia Southern (28-5) at 5 p.m.
Antonya English can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @TBTimes_Gators.