NFL draft: UCF’s Richie Grant, FSU’s Asante Samuel chosen on Day 2

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Matt Baker, Tampa Bay Times
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Day 2 of the NFL drafted featured an injection of Florida defensive backs.

UCF safety Richie Grant was drafted by the Falcons with the No. 40 overall pick, with Florida State defensive back Asante Samuel Jr. going seven picks later to the Chargers. Another former Knight, cornerback Aaron Robinson, went in the third round to the Giants.

Grant, a 6-foot, 194-pound Fort Walton Beach native, led the Knights with 72 tackles during an all-conference 2020 season. He also recorded three interceptions, two forced fumbles and six pass breakups last season.

Grant becomes the fifth-highest Knight ever drafted, after Blake Bortles (third, 2014), Daunte Culpepper (11th, 1999), Breshad Perriman (26th, 2015) and Mike Hughes (30th, 2018). He’ll join another state player, former Gators star tight end Kyle Pitts, as rookies in Atlanta.

Samuel is a familiar name to NFL fans. His father, Asante Samuel, was a four-time Pro Bowler who won a pair of Super Bowls with Tom Brady’s Patriots. The elder Samuel was a fourth-round pick out of UCF in 2003.

Though we don’t yet know whether the younger one will match his father’s pro accolades, the potential is there. Samuel defended 33 passes (four interceptions, 29 breakups) in 32 games over his three years with the Seminoles. In 2019, the Broward County native was the only Power Five player in the country with 14 pass breakups and more than 45 tackles.

Last year, Samuel joined Nate Andrews and Telvin Smith as the only Seminoles since 2000 to recover at least two fumbles and intercept at least three passes in the same season.

Robinson joined the mix at No. 71. The Deerfield Beach native amassed 95 tackles and 15 pass breakups over the past two seasons in Orlando.

The state likely will have a few other players from the defensive secondary chosen on Day 3: UF’s Marco Wilson and Shawn Davis and FSU safety Hamsah Nasirildeen.

Tre’ McKitty headed to LA

Wesley Chapel native Tre’ McKitty will join Samuel, his former FSU teammate, with the Chargers after being picked 97th overall.

McKitty, who played in high school at Tampa Catholic and IMG Academy, caught 50 passes over 35 games with the Seminoles and scored the go-ahead touchdown against Samford in 2018. He transferred to Georgia last season and started the Bulldogs’ final seven regular-season games.

McKitty was the second FSU transfer drafted Friday. Alabama offensive lineman Landon Dickerson went to the Eagles with the No. 37 overall pick. Dickerson spent three injury-plagued seasons at FSU before transferring to the Crimson Tide before the 2019 season.

Gators’ QB drought ends

Kyle Trask became the first Gators quarterback drafted since Tim Tebow in 2010 when he went to the Bucs in the second round. Only three other UF passers have been picked in the first two rounds: Rex Grossman, Steve Spurrier and Robinson High alumnus John Reaves.

Another Jimbo Fisher quarterback picked

While Bucs and UF fans were focused on Trask’s selection, another notable quarterback went two picks later to the Vikings: Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond, an IMG Academy product. Mond is Jimbo Fisher’s latest passing pupil to get drafted. The former FSU coach’s history includes three first-round picks with the Seminoles (Jameis Winston, EJ Manuel and Christian Ponder) plus former No. 1 overall pick JaMarcus Russell at LSU.

Tampa native goes to San Francisco

Ohio State running back Trey Sermon was drafted by the 49ers with the No. 88 overall pick. Sermon was born in Tampa but grew up in Georgia. He rushed for almost 3,000 career yards during his time at Ohio State and Oklahoma.

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