GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Junior cornerback Joe Haden (Ft. Washington, Md.) has announced his intention to declare for the 2010 NFL Draft and forego his final year of eligibility.
"We're sad to see Joe go because he's a great leader and a dynamic player," said interim head coach Steve Addazio, "but we know that with his tremendous talent, he will be a special player at the next level. This is the opportunity of a lifetime for Joe, and we wish him nothing but the best."
Haden, a consensus first-team All-American this season, was a finalist for the Thorpe Award, given annually to the nation's top defensive back, and was selected first-team All-SEC by the coaches and the Associated Press. He led the Gators with four interceptions this year, while contributing 68 tackles, five tackles for loss, three sacks, 10 pass breakups and two forced fumbles.
"This was a tough decision, and I spent a lot of time with my family talking about it," Haden said. "I'm so proud that I had the chance to be a Gator. It's been one of the best experiences of my life. Coach [Urban] Meyer and Coach [Vance] Bedford have helped me in so many ways. I'll always be thankful to them for everything, and I know I'll never forget the fans in Gator Nation."
Haden started all 40 career games that he played, including becoming the first true freshman to ever start at cornerback for UF in 2007. He finished his UF career with eight interceptions and 218 tackles and was part of the 2008 National Championship team.
The NFL Draft will be held April 22-24 at Radio City Music Hall in New York.