FOOTBALL: Crowder declares as early entry for NFL

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- University of Florida sophomore linebacker Channing Crowder has opted to become an early entry for the NFL, the 6-3, 245-pound linebacker announced Wednesday.

Crowder completed his career with 179 tackles, 13.5 of which were for a loss. He also had two sacks, recovered three fumbles, forced two fumbles and had one interception. In 2004, Crowder played in nine games and finished third on the squad in tackles with 73 as he led UF in the department six times. In 2003, he led the nation in tackles by a freshman with 106 and was named The Sporting News SEC Defensive Freshman of the Year. Crowder was honored as an All-American in 2003 (Scripps/FWAA, and 2004 ( and was chosen as an All-SEC performer by the conference coaches (First-Team, 2004; Second-Team, 2003) and AP (Second-Team, 2004).

"This has been a very difficult decision for me to make," said Crowder. "I love my teammates and I'm proud to be a Gator. I felt like it was best for me and my family to pursue a professional career. I want to take this time to thank my teammates, my coaches and the Gator fans - they are truly the best in the nation. I've enjoyed my time here in Gainesville and will always be a Gator."

Collegiate underclassmen have until Jan. 15, 2005 to declare for the NFL Draft and have until Jan. 19, 2005 to withdraw their name.

Story/quotes will follow later today.

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