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Thursday, March 21, 2013
UGA pro day notes: Chasing history

By David Ching

ATHENS, Ga. -- After 17 of his former players worked out in front of representatives from all 32 NFL teams on Thursday, Georgia coach Mark Richt expressed his opinion that this crop of ex-Bulldogs might set a new program record for the most players picked in one draft.

“I thought they looked great,” Richt said. “I don’t know what kind of times guys ran and all that kind of thing, but if you just look at their body types, how hard they’ve worked and just watched them do the drillwork and how smooth they looked, you could tell there’s going to be a bunch of Bulldogs out of this class make it in the league, and we’re excited about that for them.”

Mark Richt
Mark Richt expects at least eight Bulldogs to be drafted off of Georgia's SEC East-winning roster.
Richt’s 2002 draft class holds the program record with eight selections, but it’s highly possible the Bulldogs will have at least that many players selected in next month’s draft. Six players -- linebackers Alec Ogletree and Jarvis Jones, defensive lineman John Jenkins, safeties Shawn Williams and Bacarri Rambo and receiver Tavarres King -- all rank among ESPN Scouts Inc.’s top 115 prospects. Others like defensive lineman Kwame Geathers, defensive back Sanders Commings and defensive end Cornelius Washington all stand a good chance of getting drafted, as well, with an additional group of Bulldogs hoping to crack the draft’s later rounds or make a squad as an undrafted free agent.

“I’d be shocked if we didn’t have [eight],” Richt said. “It could happen that it wouldn’t exceed eight, but I’m hoping it gets at least into double digits and maybe a little bit beyond that.” Slimmed-down duo

Make no mistake, Geathers and Jenkins are still two very large men. There’s just a little less of them today than there used to be.

The two massive nose guards both have dropped weight since the end of the season in order to prepare for their pro workouts. Geathers, who played at 6-foot-6 and 355 pounds last season, is now at 335. Meanwhile Jenkins, who was listed at 6-4, 359 last season and said his weight ballooned as high as 370 pounds, is down to 343.

“I dropped enough. I’m still dropping,” said Jenkins, who said his goal is to play at between 330 and 335 pounds next season.

Geathers attributed at least part of a solid performance in the combine drills and positional workouts to his weight loss, saying he is as light as he has been in a couple of years.

“I knew it was basically and when [trainers] came and asked me, ‘What do you want to weigh?’ I’d tell them straight up, ‘I want to weigh 330, 335,’ ” Geathers said. “I’d love to play at 330, because I’d feel better. I played there in my freshman year and stuff, and I felt real good.”

Ogletree’s day

Ogletree, whom Scouts Inc. rates highest among UGA prospects at No. 12 overall and whom ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. ranks at No. 18, ran the 40 again Thursday after posting a mediocre 4.70 at the combine. He improved on that time at pro day with a 4.63, but that’s not all he needs to improve.

After missing four games last season while serving a suspension for a positive drug test, Ogletree was arrested for driving under the influence last month in Arizona. He knows his reputation needs some rehabilitation as teams evaluate whether he deserves to become a first-round pick.

“I want to get in there, get to know a lot of the coaches more, and I’m sure they want to get to know me a lot better, too,” Ogletree said of his opportunity to meet with teams one-on-one over the next few weeks. “The stuff I did was a mistake, and I had to learn from it. I just want to keep learning from it and move forward.”

Impressive outing

Players like Williams, King and Washington were able to stand on the strong numbers they posted at last month’s NFL combine, opting to participate only in positional drills. Players who didn’t participate in the combine -- like cornerback Branden Smith and fullback Richard Samuel -- didn’t have that luxury.

Jones also didn’t compete at the combine, and his underwhelming results on Thursday -- particularly a 4.92-second time in the 40-yard dash -- attracted the most attention, but Smith, Samuel and some of their less heralded teammates were impressive despite windy conditions and temperatures in the mid-30s.

Smith ran a 4.38-second time in the 40, posted the best broad jump of the day (10 feet, 8 inches) and the second-best vertical leap (34 inches). Samuel ran the second-best 40 (4.56), posted the best vertical (36.5), tied for the most reps on bench press (23) and had the second-best broad jump (10-8).

Rambo participated only in the bench press at the combine, so he also had something to prove on Thursday. He ran the 40 in 4.59 seconds, posted a 34.5-inch vertical and a 9-9 broad jump.

Brown and Jones

Two players who lost portions of their senior seasons were on hand Thursday, with defensive lineman Abry Jones running the 40 and participating in positional drills, while receiver Marlon Brown was able to participate only in the bench press.

Brown is still recovering from the torn anterior cruciate ligament he suffered in a Nov. 3 win against Ole Miss. He hopes to be healthy enough to participate in some private workouts just before the April 25 draft, but that will be cutting it close.

“I might have a private workout at the end of April, like right before the draft,” Brown said. “Probably like four or five days before the draft.”

A preseason All-SEC pick last year, Jones said he is back at 100 percent after missing the last seven games of the season with an ankle injury.

“I just wanted to show after my surgery that I’m not missing a step. I’m not self-conscious about my ankle,” Jones said. “I’m down to do anything or any drill, and I just wanted to show them I’m still the same athletic person I am.”

Both players are simply hoping for an opportunity to make an NFL club, whether as a draft pick or free agent. Without the chance to work out for a club between now and the draft, that might be the most likely route to the pros for someone like Brown.

“Really if I can just get a shot, a foot in the door, I feel like I’ll be fine,” Brown said. “I feel like I can go somewhere and just grind and work hard and show them that I can play once I get there. So that’s what I’m hoping for.”