The big NFL Draft decision that Florida fans have been waiting on is in. Defensive end Jabari Zuniga has made his choice for the 2019 season.
The talented defender announced on Saturday that he’ll be returning to Florida for his senior season. The Gators had a successful first season at the helm of head coach Dan Mullen with a 10-3 record and Peach Bowl victory over the Michigan Wolverines. It’s that potential the team has to build off this season’s success that was one of the main reasons Zuniga credited his decision to return.
“After much discussion with my mom and our coaching staff, I plan to return for my senior season,” Zuniga posted in a Twitter message. “2018 was a great year on and off the field. As much success as we had on the field, I had just as much off of it. With that, I’m excited to return this fall to finish my degree and play for a National Championship. The sky is the limit for this program and I’m excited to be a part of one last ride.”
This season for the Gators, Zuniga played in 12 games for the Gators and totaled 45 total tackles, with 11 being for a loss along with 6.5 sacks.
Zuniga played in 10 games in the 2017 season and recorded six starts. He battled some injuries throughout the season, but totaled 34 tackles, 8.0 tackles-for-loss, four sacks, one forced recovery and a six quarterback hurries. Ranked second on the team in sacks and third in tackles-for-loss. One of three players to recover a fumble (UAB). Recorded a career-high seven tackles against Florida State. Tallied a pair of tackles-for-loss against Kentucky and LSU. In the 2016 season. Zuniga played in all 13 games and started three times… Recorded his first-career start against Georgia… Totaled 25 tackles on the season, including one forced fumble, 8.5 tackles-for-loss and a team-best 5.0 sacks and 11 quarterback hurries. In his collegiate debut against UMass, Zuniga totaled four tackles, two tackles-for-loss and two sacks. Also recorded a pair of sacks against North Texas… In the SEC Championship Game against Alabama, he blocked Alabama’s extra point attempt with 1:42 left in the first quarter, and linebacker David Reese returned it for a defensive PAT. That marked the first blocked extra point in the SEC Championship since 2003 and it was the blocked extra point returned for a defensive PAT in the SEC Championship since 1997. Zuniga also garnered Coaches’ Second Team All-SEC honors that season. In the 2015 season. he did not see any game action and redshirted.
Zuniga joins fellow Gators teammates LaMical Perine, Adam Shuler, and Van Jefferson as players to announce their return to UF for their Senior seasons on Saturday. Other draft eligible Juniors from the Florida roster to forego their final year of eligibility and jump to the NFL draft include DB Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, LB Vosean Joseph, RB Jordan Scarlett, and offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor.