University of Florida Gators
Pine Forest High School
Talk to Estella Floyd and she can cite dozens of reasons to never doubt her son, Louchiez, defying "logic" and accomplishing any task that he is handed. Ever since he was a young child, Purifoy has fought hard to prove his doubters wrong.
On the football field, whatever the coaches want him to do, whatever side of the ball they want him to line up, whether as a free safety or cornerback on defense, with a little bit of "whip" linebacker tossed in, or as a receiver who can carry the ball out of the backfield, or delivering the big hit while also filling in as a return specialist on special teams, Purifoy will enthusiastically embrace any role.
Mother and son are very close. She is the first to tell you that Purifoy has more vigor than probably anyone she has ever met. When Loucheiz was four, he needed surgery to repair a hernia that developed in his abdomen from when his umbilical cord was cut. The surgery went well and as he was released from the hospital, doctors told Floyd that it was important that Purifoy's activity be kept to a minimum for a couple of weeks while the wound healed.
Floyd was on the phone with doctors shortly she got home with her son. "He was in the center of the bed jumping up and down and jumping onto the floor," Floyd said. "I called the doctor back, 'You've got to put him back in the hospital because I can't keep him still.' He was all over the house."
Looking to harness that energy, Purifoy started to play peewee football and flash some of the athletic ability that made him a vital part to the University of Florida football team. He was so fast few could keep up with him, including the family poodle he would race each day after school along the fence line. Purifoy would put the dog on the inside of the fence, and he would race up and down on the outside.
Sports served as the outlet for all that energy that burned inside Purifoy. His extended family included an array of cousins that helped him develop into the dynamic force Florida fans watched in 2012, as Purifoy blossomed into one of the nation's top defensive backs and special teams players.
Purifoy and cousin Shaq Purifoy, who signed with Grambling State, formed a lethal duo for opponents at Pensacola's Pine Forest High. Purifoy, listed at 6-1, 189 pounds, was never the biggest player on the field. But he was usually the fastest and nearly always the feistiest.
"I really didn't play football with the younger people because I was always faster than them,'' he said. "So the older boys always ended up picking me up on their team and I ended up playing ball with them. That's how I got tough. I don't like to get hit and not hit back."
At Pine Forest, Scout.com considered him the 30th-best cornerback in the prep ranks. The running back and defensive back averaged 5.57 yards as a ball carrier, helping the Eagles compile a 10-3 record and an appearance in the Class 4A regional semifinals as a senior. He also lettered on the basketball team.
Purifoy decided to stay in-state when he accepted a scholarship offer from Florida over Alabama, Auburn and Miami. He ached by Matt Brunson. He quickly developed into one of coaching staff's favorite players because of his toughness and blue-collar approach. While Pensacola produced one of the best players in Florida football history -- running back Emmitt Smith -- the area has produced few Gators in recent years. Prior to Purifoy, the last top prospect Florida signed from Pensacola was linebacker Jon Demps in 2005.
Purifoy's emergence and the success in recent years of Pine Forest alums such as Redskins running back Alfred Morris, Falcons offensive lineman Mike Johnson and former USF defensive end George Selvie has shined a spotlight on the program led by veteran coach Jerry Pollard. Purifoy is symbolic of the type of player Pollard prefers.
"They don't really leave here with these glowing reputations,'' Bill Vilona of the Pensacola News-Journal said. "They don't get jaded in high school. We're remote. We're not in the mainstream of Florida, so a lot of the people don't get noticed that well. I also think that it benefits these kids because they don't get big heads. And Jerry Pollard, he's not a flamboyant guy and his teams aren't flamboyant. He is an old-school coach."
Purifoy fit in perfectly. In high school Purifoy would often spend the night in the school's weight room, wake up and watch three hours of game film, and then finally go home. He took the same approach during the 2013 offseason trying to learn to play receiver. "It's very difficult for a guy that's had tremendous success at a position when you're trying to learn another position,'' Florida head coach Will Muschamp said.
Purifoy did not start any of the 13 games he appeared in as a true freshman, but he was a major contributor. He led the special team coverage units, as he caused one fumble and delivered 27 tackles (17 solos), seeing limited action on defense as a reserve corner-back. His breakout season came during his sophomore campaign, as he took over the right cornerback spot. He posted 51 tackles with five pass break-ups and led the Gators with three forced fumbles.
Purifoy also excelled on special teams, blocking a pair of kicks. He also saw brief action on offense, carrying once ands catching one pass for a total of 13 yards. As a junior, he received second-team All-Southeastern Conference honors, as he played on all three units, collecting 24 tackles with two sacks, seven pass deflections and two interceptions while splitting right cornerback duties with Jaylen Watkins. On offense, Purifoy carried once for 15 yards, blocked another kick on special teams, and also fielded four kickoffs for a 20.5-yard average.
Raised by a single mother, the woman whose name he has tattooed on his arm is his guiding light. His mother's health has forced her to stop teaching after suffering another heart attack, this one at school. Still, she needs dialysis treatments three times a week and is in need of a kidney transplant. "I'm getting stronger,'' she said. "I have my good days and bad days. It's a process I'm going through right now."
Purifoy checked in on his mom regularly. His sisters live in the same neighborhood and help her out as she tries to get healthy. There was talk that if Purifoy had a strong junior season, he could declare for the 2014 NFL Draft. That dream sprouted in his head when he was in high school and saw his mother struggling to support the family. Now that dream seems close to reality. Shortly after the season finale vs. Florida State, the cornerback announced he had entered the draft as an underclassman.
"I just watched her do so much to the point where I'm tired of her doing stuff,'' Purifoy explained when talking about his mother. "I feel like it's my turn to do something for my mom and two sisters. That's who raised me. It's time for me to give back. "She needs a kidney. We are working on it. When the opportunity knocks, you've got to take advantage of it." In life, and football, that is the mission Purifoy seeks to complete.
"I have had a great three years at the University of Florida, but at this time I think it's best for me and my family to pursue a career in the NFL," Purifoy said. "Coach Muschamp and Coach (Travaris) Robinson have put me in a position to take the next step. I know there is a lot of work for me ahead, but I appreciate what everyone at Florida did to get me to this point. As much as I look forward to playing in the NFL, I will miss my teammates and coaches and look forward to watching them play next year."
"There are a lot of factors that go into making these individual and personal decisions and I'm 100 percent supportive of Loucheiz's choice to enter the NFL Draft," Florida head coach Will Muschamp said. "Loucheiz has come a long way from when I sat in his living room with his family during the recruiting process and he also knows his work is not done. We wish him nothing but the best of luck and watching him on Sundays. As we have with other former Gators, we encourage him to return to Florida and finish his degree."
Purifoy started 19-of-37 games at Florida, recording 102 tackles (69 solos) with two sacks for minus 11 yards, 4.5 stops for losses of 29 yards, five forced fumbles and one fumble recovery…Deflected 12 passes and intercepted two others for 42 yards in returns, including one touchdown…Blocked three kicks, returned three punts for 35 yards and four kickoffs for 82 yards on special teams…Caught one pass for 5 yards and carried twice for 23 yards during brief action on offense.