Could Gasparilla Bowl be Mitch Wilcox’s USF finale?

The all-conference tight end from Tarpon Springs said he has had his draft status 'evaluated.'
USF Bulls tight end Mitch Wilcox (89) warms up before the game against East Carolina. (OCTAVIO JONES | Times)
USF Bulls tight end Mitch Wilcox (89) warms up before the game against East Carolina. (OCTAVIO JONES | Times)
Published Dec. 11, 2018

After battling ankle sprains for the better part of his breakthrough season, Bulls TE Mitch Wilcox says he's finally back to full strength.

Which could mean a pain-free trot into the collegiate sunset. On Tuesday, the brawny fourth-year junior acknowledged he has had his draft status "evaluated."

"And I'll be very frank, there is an opportunity," said Wilcox, a Tarpon Springs High alumnus. "But right now, all I'm focused on is the (Gasparilla) bowl game and helping my team and sending out these seniors right."

Wilcox offered no specifics on the evaluation he has received, and it's unclear whether he has yet gotten any feedback from the NFL's College Advisory Committee, which annually advises underclassmen on their draft potential.

But his versatility and physical upside (he's listed at 6-foot-5, 245 pounds) are undeniable.

USF's only first-team All-American Athletic Conference selection, Wilcox established school season records for receptions (40) and receiving yards (506) by a tight end this season. His 69 career catches are only six shy of USF's career record for a tight end held by Sean Price.

He also has established himself as a solid blocker both on the perimeter and in the power-run game. His 2018 numbers might be even greater had he not sustained significant left-ankle injuries against both East Carolina and Temple, or had a teammate roll up on his right ankle in the first half of the Houston game.

"Mitch is a warrior," Bulls coach Charlie Strong said days before the Bulls' regular season finale against UCF.

"When Mitch isn't in, that really hurts us 'cause he such a factor on offense for us. He can cause linebackers problems, and then he's big enough to overpower the guys in the secondary."

RELATED: USF's Mitch Wilcox seeks new beginning after UCF ending

USF never has had a tight end taken in the NFL draft. The last Bulls underclassman to be drafted was TB Marlon Mack, picked by the Colts in the fourth round in 2017.