Fowler confirms his jump to the NFL

Florida defensive lineman Dante Fowler is having a big season and erased any doubt about his future on Tuesday night.

Fowler said he would sit down with Will Muschamp after the season and talk about it, but that's no longer necessary. Fowler tweeted on Tuesday night that he came in with Muschamp and will be leaving after the year.

"I came in with champ," Fowler said about the Florida coach on Twitter. "I'm leaving with Him. Simple as that."

Muschamp said on Monday that his advice has always been the same. If a player is a first round pick, he needs to leave and play in the NFL. If he's not, he should return. Fowler has played like a first round pick this season and seems to be one in most mock drafts this season.

There wasn't much of an argument for Fowler to stay at this point. He has been dominant off the edge as a pass rusher this season, totaling 4.5 sacks and 15 quarterback hurries. The junior also has two forced fumbles, made one fumble recovery and is tied for second on the team with 49 tackles.

Asked to come up with a reason for why he would return to Florida and play his senior season, Fowler struggled to come up with one.

“If anything, probably just develop or if they was to say I was too young or something like that,” the defensive end said.

But in the end, the chance to leave with the head coach that brought him in was too much to pass up.

Muschamp’s firing was tough for Fowler to handle. When he was in high school, Muschamp was the coach that stayed on him despite a commitment to Florida State. He saw the upside in Fowler as a pass rusher and convinced him to switch his commitment on signing day.

In the last three years, the two have only grown closer.

“It’s hard when (it’s) the man that basically recruited you to come in,” Fowler said. “That was my recruiter really, my defensive coach, basically my defensive coordinator and just to see how great of a guy he is, to see how far he’s come ever since he first stepped a foot on campus and just to see him grow up and mature.

“He’s young -- a lot of people don’t realize that but he has a bright future ahead of him and this really is just only the beginning for him. I know it was a dream job for him, and he’s just accomplishing a lot of things that he wanted to do. He has a really bright future ahead of him.”

The players knew Muschamp’s situation going into the season. He was on the hot seat and needed to win big to keep his job. That didn’t happen, but Fowler said the pressure and all of the people outside the program that wanted Muschamp gone ended up hurting the team.

“I feel like everybody wanting him to leave so bad that it kind of turned into a distraction,” Fowler said.

As the team met on Sunday afternoon to discuss the situation, Fowler and his teammates weren’t surprised to hear Muschamp’s message. It was a lot like his messages to the team throughout this season. They have a chance to handle it well, just as Muschamp did on Monday during the press conference.

“One of the things he always taught us no matter what just always show class,” Fowler said. “That’s something he really always taught us just be a class act person, be a blue-collar person. I respect Champ for that.”

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