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Florida Gators’ CJ Henderson leaving school early, won’t play in bowl

Henderson’s elite speed could help his draft stock. His interview skills could be another story.
Florida Gators defensive back CJ Henderson wags his finger after breaking up a pass during a game against Miami in August at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. Henderson is forgoing his senior season, entering the NFL draft and skipping the team’s bowl game. [MONICA HERNDON  |  Tampa Bay Times]
Florida Gators defensive back CJ Henderson wags his finger after breaking up a pass during a game against Miami in August at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. Henderson is forgoing his senior season, entering the NFL draft and skipping the team’s bowl game. [MONICA HERNDON | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Dec. 6, 2019
Updated Dec. 6, 2019

GAINESVILLE — Florida cornerback CJ Henderson is forgoing his senior season, entering the NFL draft and skipping the team’s bowl game.

Henderson announced his plans Friday on social media, saying “I am excited to be one step closer to turning my lifelong dream into a reality.”

The 6-foot-1 junior from Miami was widely considered a first-round draft pick coming into the season. But he was far from a lock-down defender in 2019, getting beat five times for plays that gained more than 40 yards. Auburn, LSU, South Carolina, Missouri and Florida State each got by Henderson for huge plays. He also missed three games because of an ankle injury.

Still, Henderson's elite speed could help his draft stock. His interview skills could be another story. He's one of the quietest, least talkative players to come through Gainesville in years.

RELATED: Why CJ Henderson, Kadarius Toney are Florida Gators’ pair of No. 1s

Henderson finishes his college career with 22 pass breakups, six interceptions, four sacks and two forced fumbles.

The seventh-ranked Gators (10-2) are expected to make a New Year’s Six bowl, probably the Orange Bowl. Henderson won’t play and could be joined by several other who leave school early. Fellow cornerback Marco Wilson, receiver Trevon Grimes and defensive tackle Tedarrell Slaton also are expected to at least consider turning pro.

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