By GREG AUMAN
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 9, 2001
While Florida announced Monday that juniors Kenyatta Walker and Gerard Warren were skipping their senior seasons to enter the NFL Draft, a third player quietly submitted his name to the NFL: former receiver and Olympic sprinter John Capel.
"I called (the NFL) today to enter the draft," said Capel, who lives in Gainesville. "Hopefully, I can do something. ... I just want to play, just want to get back out on the field."
Capel's decision came as a surprise, considering he hasn't played football in more than a year and played sparingly in his two seasons with the Gators. A Parade All-American at Hernando High School, he scored one touchdown at Florida, finishing with 84 total yards in 1997 and 127 a year later.
The 22-year-old from Brooksville withdrew from classes last spring to focus on Olympic training and reached the final of the 200-meter dash. He finished last after committing what he thought was a false start, and later spoke of wanting to return to football. "I could be back next fall," Capel said in October. "If Coach (Steve) Spurrier would let me, I'd be back next week. ... I need to get back to my classes, get my grades and walk on."
Classes began Monday at UF, but Capel said he had not registered, though he had talked with academic counselors about what he needed to restore his eligibility. If he has applied for early entry to the NFL, however, his college career has ended.
Capel will try to follow in the NFL footsteps of other sprinters such as Oakland's James Jett and former Bears receiver Willie Gault. Both had significantly more college football experience, however, and Capel said he will work to improve his receiving skills.
Florida coaches had said they would welcome Capel back, but Capel said he had not spoken with any about his decision to enter the NFL. Florida's staff was in Atlanta at a coaches' convention Monday and was unavailable for comment.
The NFL would not confirm Capel's entry and will not release any names until next week. Friday is the deadline for underclassmen to submit their names for consideration for the April draft.
Florida has had two early entries in each of the past four seasons. Six were taken in the first round, along with one each in the second and third rounds.
Walker, a 6-foot-5, 298-pound offensive tackle from Meridian, Miss., and Warren, a 6-4, 308 defensive tackle from Raiford, are in position to continue that success.
"It was a hard (decision) to make, but in the end, I thought it was the right one," Warren said.
The Gator losses could have been worse, but junior defensive end Alex Brown decided to return for his senior year.
MICHIGAN: Wide receiver David Terrell said he is leaving a year early to enter the draft.
OHIO STATE: Cornerback Nate Clements said he is leaving a year early to make himself available for the draft.
REEDY CHARGED: Former Baylor coach Chuck Reedy faces burglary and domestic violence charges in Richland (S.C.) County after entering his estranged wife's home.
COACHES' CONVENTION: A playoff system was talked about but coaches agreed it was just talk. "I'm a young man, and I don't think I'm going to see it," said 64-year-old South Carolina coach Lou Holtz. Bob Stoops, who coached Oklahoma to the national championship last week, said a solution might be more conference title games.
LAWSUIT: The NCAA and adidas settled a suit over rules limiting the size of commercial logos (they'll remain 2 1/4 inches) on uniforms
- Information from Times wires contributed to this report.
Back to Sports