UF star TE Kyle Pitts is leaving Gators early for NFL

Edgar Thompson, Orlando Sentinel

Florida Gators record-setting tight end Kyle Pitts announced he will forego his senior season and enter the 2021 NFL draft.

Pitts shared his decision less than 12 hours after a brilliant second-half performance during the Gators’ narrow 52-46 loss to Alabama in the SEC title game.

Pitts finished with seven catches for 129 yards and a 22-yard touchdown with 2:07 remaining to pull his team within a score of the top-ranked Crimson Tide.

“I have many great memories during my three years at Florida and will always be a Gator,” Pitts wrote in a message he shared on his Twitter account. “I hope to continue to make Gator Nation proud through my career. I will forever miss running out of the tunnel on Saturday’s with my brothers in front of 90,000 fans.

“I know it is time for me to move on to the next chapter in the my life.”

Pitts finished the 2020 season with 43 catches for 770 yards and a team-leading 12 touchdown grabs, a school record at his position.

The versatile 6-foot-6, 240-pound Pitts is expected to be a possible top-10 pick. A mock draft by CBSSports.com projects Pitts as the No. 4 pick in the draft, by the Los Angeles Chargers.

Pitts battled injuries throughout his third and final season at Florida. He sustained a concussion and broken nose Nov. 7 against Georgia and sat out the next two games. He also missed a Dec. 12 loss to LSU with an undisclosed injury.

Pitts will be among the key losses expected from a Gators offense averaging more than 41 points points per game, joining record-setting quarterback Kyle Trask and wide receivers Kadarius Toney and Trevon Grimes.

This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Edgar Thompson at egthompson@orlandosentinel.com.