Gators’ Bullard ready to return for final season

Defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard opted to return to Florida rather than enter the NFL Draft after his junior season.

Kim Klement/Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

HOOVER, Ala., — Jonathan Bullard opted to return to Florida rather than enter the NFL Draft after his junior season. Bullard spoke about his decision during SEC Media Days this week and confirmed that it was in his best interest to return to Gainesville and improve his draft stock.

"My family is in a good situation so I didn’t have to factor that into it which is always great," Bullard said. "I’m blessed for that situation and I just wasn’t going to go as far as off of the feedback I got from the NFL. I want to win and win decent, it’s still a dream come true I just felt like I had those little things in my game that I can develop and become an even better player and hopefully be in the green room next year."

His decision was huge for the Gators who still have to replace teammate Dante Fowler Jr., at the other defensive end position. Bullard expects to take on a more vocal leadership role following Fowler’s departure, even though it may be out of his comfort zone.

"I’m not a very vocal guy but I’ll lead by example," Bullard said. "I’m going to talk when I have to, when I need to but I think that’s a role that I’m definitely going to have to step into after losing Dante. But I’ll step into that and take it forward."

Teammate Vernon Hargreaves III, who also represented the Gators in Hoover, is grateful to play behind a defensive line that includes Bullard for one more season.

"It was huge," Hargreaves said on Bullard’s decision to return. "It was one of the most unselfish acts I’ve ever been around. He could have easily went to the NFL and been very successful. But he saw the bigger picture. He saw that he could help this defense, he’s a leader on this defense and guys look up to him, guys respond to him and I’m happy he’s back."