Everett Says He'll Be Back Next Year

All the talk about Earl Everett leaving Florida early for the National Football League is just that --- talk. There has been speculation for the past week or so that Everett would be leaving Florida after the Outback Bowl game with Iowa, but he made it perfectly clear Thursday that the only place he is going to be playing football in 2006 is at the University of Florida.

Word leaked out last week that Everett had submitted his paperwork to the NFL for the upcoming draft but the junior linebacker from Webster says that was only to get a good idea about the things he needs to work on this offseason to prepare for his senior year. He definitely wants to play in the NFL someday, just not next season.

"I just did it to see what I need to work on and see where I stand," he said Thursday after practice. "That's all that was."

Everett had a solid season for Florida's nationally seventh-ranked defense that finished third in the SEC in total defense (289.8 yards per game). He led the team with 67 tackles, sacked the quarterback 2.5 times and had two pass interceptions. The tackle numbers would have been higher except that he was Florida's most reliable linebacker in pass coverage so he spent far more time downfield in coverage than he did near the line of scrimmage.

Before he submitted his paperwork to the NFL Draft Advisory, he did give some serious thought to leaving early, but he made up his mind quickly that he wants to return to Florida.

"I gave it some thought but I'm definitely not pursuing it," he said. "I'm staying here for my senior year. That was my main goal coming here just to play four years and help the team out the best way that I can."

His goal in the offseason is to improve his strength and perhaps add a few pounds of upper body muscle to his 6-2, 231-pound frame.

"I'm going to hit the weight room day in and day out and that stuff and just work hard," he said.

He said he will use the offeseason drills to do the kind of work that will allow him to have a more consistent 2006. He wasn't disappointed in his 2005 season but knows that there are areas that require improvement.

"There were a couple of games that I feel I could have made a little more impact than I did," he said, noting that improvement will be the direct result of hard work in the offseason.

He's looking forward to another season playing alongside Florida middle linebacker Brandon Siler. Siler and Everett will probably be rated the top returning linebacker tandem in the Southeastern Conference next season.

"Both of us playing together have a good chemistry," he said. "We can have the best linebacker corps in the SEC next year. I actually think we're the best right now. All that stuff will come with hard work, though. That's where it starts.

"We'll get in the weight room and get bigger and stronger for next year."

Everett says that Siler will be the undisputed leader on the defensive team next year. Although he's just a sophomore, Siler has been a vocal leader for Florida's defense along with seniors Jarvis Herring and Jeremy Mincey this season.

"Brandon stepped up in a big leadership role," he said. "He brings a lot of motivation and a lot of energy to the team."

As for the National Football League, he knows that he should have a good opportunity to make it in the play for pay ranks if he works hard in the offseason and turns in a solid senior year.

"All that stuff's going to come in the future," he said. "I'm just going to roll with it and see what happens."

MATTISON TALKS ABOUT MATTISON: Coach Greg Mattison, Florida's defensive coordinator, knew when he came to Florida as part of Coach Urban Meyer's staff that there might come a day when the Gators faced Iowa and his son, Hawkeye sophomore defensive end Bryan Mattison.

The Big Ten and the Southeastern Conference are tied into the Capital One and Outback bowls so there is always that possibility every year that the Gators will meet up with the Hawkeyes in the post season.

"We talked about this possibly happening," said Mattison. "The conferences have a tie in and with good programs we're always going to have a possibility to play each other."

Bryan Mattison's first scholarship offer was from Bowling Green when he was in the eighth grade.

"Coach Urban Meyer is the first one to offer him a scholarship," said Coach Mattison. "Urban came over on the way to Bowling Green and said you've got a scholarship someday."

When it came time for Bryan to finish high school and choose a place to play college football, Iowa made a very strong impression on both father and son. Both Mattisons were highly impressed with Hawkeye Coach Kirk Ferentz.

"He's a great coach, a great man," said Greg Mattison. "Their whole program … they're the type of people that if you say your son's not going to play for you so where would you like him to go? Well, Kirk Ferentz and his staff are just what I wanted."

The coach said he's looking forward to his Gator defense and his son playing well in the Outback Bowl.

"I'm excited for him to be playing for a program like that [Iowa] at a young age," said Coach Mattison. It's really great. I'm excited for our guys to see if we can keep carrying on what we've been doing at the end here."

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