Florida place kicker Evan McPherson (19) watches as his kick for a field goal goes through the uprights during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020, in Gainesville, Fla.

FORT PAYNE — University of Florida kicker Evan McPherson will bypass his senior year and enter the 2021 NFL Draft, the Fort Payne native announced Tuesday.

The 5-foot-11 junior posted a message of his plan to leave Florida and pursue his dreams of becoming a professional football player on Twitter.

“First and foremost, I would like to thank God for giving me every opportunity  I’ve had in life,” McPherson said on Twitter. “Thank you to my entire family and to all who have sacrificed so much to help me get to where I am today. Our faith has kept us strong and together on this journey…”

The Times-Journal contacted the University of Florida football communications department but McPherson was unavailable for an interview this week.

Prior to his college career, McPherson kicked and punted for Fort Payne High School for four years. He helped the Wildcats capture a Class 6A state postseason berth under former head coach Paul Ellis. He was selected to the Under Armour All-American Team and was the No. 1-ranked kicker and No. 5-ranked punter by the Kohl’s Kicking Camp.

While at Fort Payne, McPherson made a 60-yard field goal during his senior season that was a yard shy of the AHSAA state record. He also recorded an 84-yard punt in a game, which was also a yard shy of the state record. 

McPherson chose Florida over Mississippi State and went 2 for 2 on PAT kicks during his participation in the 2018 Under Armour All-America Game.

Evan McPherson’s younger brother Alex, a junior at Fort Payne High School who has been following his brother’s path as a kicker/punter and becoming a highly-touted college recruit in his own right, told The Times-Journal that Evan’s opportunity at joining the NFL is special for their family.

“The path that he has laid out for me has definitely impacted my high school career and also my recruiting journey,” Alex said. “He just has taught me so much about how to approach the recruiting world and how to go through my high school career.

Alex said he can’t wait to see what his brother will do as a professional and that his family is proud of what Evan has accomplished in his career so far.

Evan McPherson’s performances at Florida captured national attention. ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit said on Twitter that McPherson “has to have the strongest leg in CFB. I mean those 50-yarders are still climbing when they hit the net! What a weapon in a close game!”

Among some of McPherson’s notable moments in games with Florida in 2020 were a 55-yard field goal against Mississippi and a 53-yard field goal against Texas A&M. Field goals of 50 and 51 yards against Georgia earned him SEC Special Teams Player of the Week.

In three seasons, McPherson appeared in 36 games, kicked 49 field goals and 148 extra points.

McPherson and Florida finished the 2020 season with a 55-20 loss against Oklahoma in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl on Dec. 30.

The NFL draft is scheduled to begin April 29 at 8 p.m. in Cleveland. The draft will wrap at 6 p.m. May 1.

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