Georgia Bulldogs: Mel Kiper

Bulldogs well represented at Senior Bowl 

January, 25, 2013
ATHENS, Ga. -- No school is better represented this week at the Senior Bowl than Georgia, which sent six players to Mobile, Ala., to participate in college football’s premier postseason all-star game Saturday.

In addition to serving as a high-profile job interview for an assortment of NFL scouts, general managers, coaches and other personnel reps, this week’s Senior Bowl practices are also a mini-reunion for the six Bulldogs in Mobile who scattered throughout the country to prepare for the draft.

Rising stars: Five to watch on D 

January, 11, 2013
ATHENS, Ga. -- Mark Richt said Thursday that he wants his up-and-coming defensive players to ask themselves, “Am I going to be good enough to help this team win a championship?” as they work toward playing bigger roles in 2013.

There’s no question that if the Bulldogs return to the SEC championship game for a third consecutive year, those defensive players will have made enormous strides to get them there. They return every key offensive player except receivers Tavarres King and Marlon Brown, but lose 12 important defenders.

So let’s take a quick look at five key players who will lead the rebuilding effort for Georgia’s defense this fall -- and then three more to watch for good measure.

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Bulldogs plan to remain among elite 

January, 11, 2013
ATHENS, Ga. -- As Mark Richt turns the page from one season to the next, Georgia’s coach insists that his expectations will not change this fall.

The Bulldogs lose 12 key defensive players from a team that finished fifth in the final Associated Press poll and fourth in the USA Today Coaches Poll -- the third-best finish for a Richt-coached Georgia team in both polls -- but Richt said he still expects his team to rank among the national elite.

“We plan on being that. We hope to be that. We’ve got to earn that,” Richt said Thursday afternoon on his season-wrapup teleconference.

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ATHENS, Ga. -- In a family known for football standouts leaving school early, Kwame Geathers actually lasted four years at Georgia. But the redshirt junior nose guard will not be back for a fifth season.

UGA sports information director Claude Felton confirmed on Wednesday that Geathers will forgo his final season of eligibility to enter the NFL draft. ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper said last month that Geathers, who split time at nose guard over the last two seasons with John Jenkins, could go as high as the second or third round in the upcoming NFL draft.

At 6-foot-6 and 355 pounds, Geathers has size that will certainly intrigue NFL talent evaluators. He also has a genetic makeup that might indicate pro football success.

[+] EnlargeKwame Geathers
Kelly Kline/Icon SMIKwame Geathers will join a long line of Geathers family members to play in the NFL.
Brothers Robert and Clifton are active defensive linemen in the NFL -- Robert with the Cincinnati Bengals and Clifton with the Indianapolis Colts -- after leaving Georgia and South Carolina, respectively, a season early. Cousin Jeremy Geathers also left UNLV after his junior season and has played arena football and in Canada.

Additionally, father Robert Sr. played six seasons in the NFL and uncle Jumpy was in the league for 13 years as a standout defensive lineman.

That wealth of family NFL experience provided a highly sufficient sounding board for Kwame Geathers as he mulled his decision, he said.

“Having my brothers and my family members to go to and ask for advice about it, it’s given me a lot of comfort,” Geathers said during bowl practice. “I’m not worrying about it, stressing about it at all because I feel like I’ve got all the resources I need.”

This season, Geathers ranked third among Georgia’s defensive linemen with 40 tackles. He added five tackles for a loss and the only sack of his career, as well.

That lack of pass-rushing production will be one hurdle Geathers must clear in the eyes of NFL scouts as he tries to prove he can be more than a two-down player. Players with his rare size and skills are almost sure to find spots on NFL rosters, but he can improve his draft stock by proving that he can do more than occupy blockers at the point of attack.

He is the third UGA defensive underclassman to declare for the draft, joining junior linebackers Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree. Kiper ranks Jones first overall and Ogletree seventh on his newest Big Board released on Wednesday.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Aaron Murray was so torn up about his impending decision on whether to stay at Georgia for his senior season that he hopped a flight for New Orleans for the Allstate Sugar Bowl immediately after winning game MVP honors in Tuesday afternoon’s Capital One Bowl victory against Nebraska.

[+] EnlargeAaron Murray and Mike Bobo
Paul Abell/US PresswireAaron Murray will lean on advisement on coaches and family to make his NFL decision.
As a member of the American Football Coaches Association’s Good Works Team, Murray was invited to participate in a special football camp before the Sugar Bowl and to be recognized at the game, so he took his older brother Josh along for the ride. But the fun and games will soon end for Georgia’s record-setting quarterback, and he knows he will have to seriously weigh his options before deciding on his future.

The decision that he makes -- like those of draft-eligible teammates Jarvis Jones and Kwame Geathers -- could completely change the complexion of Georgia’s 2013 season.

"I think I’m going to sit down with my parents in the next few days and still have to draw up the pros and cons and go from there,” Murray said after passing for 427 yards and five touchdowns in the Bulldogs’ 45-31 bowl win against the Cornhuskers. “… Jarvis and I are blessed to have this opportunity to make this tough decision, but right now I’m just enjoying the process.”

In truth, Murray and Geathers’ decisions are much more difficult than the one that awaits Jones. The two-time All-American outside linebacker seems to be almost a sure bet to become an NFL first-round draft pick.

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Game breakdown: Georgia vs. Nebraska

December, 31, 2012
No. 7 Georgia and No. 16 Nebraska meet on New Year’s Day in Orlando, Fla., in one of the highest-profile non-BCS games of this bowl season. The key to Tuesday’s game might be discerning which of them actually takes that reality seriously.

It’s not the BCS championship game, where Georgia could easily be playing, or the Rose Bowl, which Nebraska expected before laying an egg in a 70-31 loss to Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game. But the winning program on Tuesday could very well wind up where it has not been in quite some time.

Georgia was once a top-10 team essentially every season under coach Mark Richt, but it has not finished the season in the Associated Press top 10 since 2007. Likewise, Nebraska finished the season ranked in the AP top 10 eight times in nine seasons between 1993 and 2001, but it has not finished the season there in the last decade.

Let’s take a look at how they might make it there with a victory to inaugurate the new year:

No. 7 Georgia vs. No. 16 Nebraska

Tuesday, 1 p.m.
Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium, Orlando, Fla.

Records: Georgia 11-2, Nebraska 10-3

Last game: Georgia lost 32-28 to Alabama in the SEC championship game on Dec. 1. Nebraska lost 70-31 to Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game on the same day.

What’s the Story? Georgia and Nebraska are both trying to snap two-game bowl losing skids and end their seasons with a milestone victory of sorts. Nebraska hasn’t won at least 11 games in a season since 2001 and Georgia has only won 12 games twice in school history.

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About Them Dawgs: Bacarri Rambo

December, 12, 2012
Editor’s note: Each day between now and Georgia’s Capital One Bowl date with Nebraska, we will review the season for a key Bulldogs player and attempt to project what’s next. Today we’ll look at safety Bacarri Rambo.

No. 18 Bacarri Rambo
67 tackles, 3 INTs, 3 FF

Role in 2012: The 2011 first-team All-American returned to his playmaking ways in the secondary following a four-game suspension to open his senior season.

The good: Aside from Jarvis Jones, Rambo is the best turnover generator on the team, and that skill was in full effect during the Bulldogs’ second-half surge toward another SEC East title. He made huge takeaways in wins against Florida (an interception in the end zone) and Georgia Tech (a strip/fumble recovery at the Georgia 1 that he returned 49 yards to midfield). He finished fourth on the team in tackles, tied for first in interceptions and trailed only Jones with three forced fumbles.

The bad: Perhaps two of the Bulldogs’ most memorable defensive miscues -- a jump ball for a 42-yard completion to Damiere Byrd on South Carolina’s opening drive and a similar jump ball that Alabama’s Amari Cooper caught for a 44-yard gain -- were plays where the ball slid through Rambo’s fingertips. Plus he missed four games this season and one in 2011 while serving suspensions. Rambo is one of the most effective defensive playmakers of the Mark Richt era, but he’s also had his share of costly off-the-field issues.

Crystal ball: With one game left in his college career, Rambo is tied with Jake Scott for Georgia’s career interception record (16). If nothing else, he has shown a nose for finding the football while it’s in the air -- and that should help him land somewhere in the NFL. ESPN Scouts Inc. rates Rambo as a top-100 draft prospect and the No. 8 player at his position. Last week, however, ESPN’s Mel Kiper rated Rambo as the No. 2 senior safety prospect and said an NFL team will draft him “knowing he can start right away.”

About Them Dawgs: Alec Ogletree

December, 7, 2012
Editor’s note: Each day between now and Georgia’s Capital One Bowl date with Nebraska, we will review the season for a key Bulldogs player and attempt to project what’s next. Today we’ll look at linebacker Alec Ogletree.

No. 9 Alec Ogletree
Junior/Inside linebacker
98 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss

Role in 2012: Once Ogletree returned from suspension, he lived up to all of the hype about his NFL potential, leading the team with 98 tackles in just nine games.

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Jones, Jenkins forming dynamic duo

November, 1, 2012

ATHENS, Ga. -- Forget the talk about Georgia’s Jordan Jenkins becoming the next Jarvis Jones.

Even if the freshman outside linebacker never matches the eye-popping statistics that Jones has produced in a season-and-a-half as a Bulldog, Jenkins has already emerged as a key defensive weapon himself. He certainly proved that in last Saturday’s 17-9 upset of then-No. 2 Florida, when he and Jones formed quite the dynamic duo -- typically as bookends on opposite edges of the line of scrimmage.

Jones produced one of the most memorable individual performances in recent memory against the Gators, but both players wreaked havoc against Florida while playing at the same time -- an opportunity that Jenkins hopes will arise again.

“We definitely were on the field a lot more in this game. I don’t know if it’s going to stay like that or not,” said Jenkins, whose sixth-ranked Bulldogs (7-1, 5-1 SEC) host Ole Miss (5-3, 2-2) on Saturday. “Hopefully it does because I was doing some pretty good things.”

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NFL field seems to suit UGA's Jones 

October, 28, 2012
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- EverBank Field has been awfully good to Jarvis Jones.

The Georgia outside linebacker produced the two most memorable performances of his career against rival Florida at the Jacksonville Jaguars’ home stadium -- and that’s saying something, considering he was a first-team All-American last season.

The next time he takes this field, he might well be a member of the Jaguars.

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Game breakdown: Tennessee at Georgia 

September, 28, 2012

Saturday, 3:30 p.m.

Sanford Stadium/Athens, Ga.

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Game Breakdown: Vanderbilt at Georgia 

September, 21, 2012
Saturday, 7:45 p.m. ET
Sanford Stadium/Athens, Ga.
Records: Georgia 3-0 (1-0 SEC), Vanderbilt 1-2 (0-1)

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ATHENS, Ga. -- No team was better represented than Georgia when ESPN Scouts Inc. recently released its top 32 prospects for the 2013 NFL draft.

No other team had more than three prospects on the list. Georgia had four off its defense alone, led by senior nose guard John Jenkins, the No. 5 overall prospect on the list. And that status did not surprise Bulldogs defensive coordinator Todd Grantham -- who spent 11 seasons as an NFL assistant before joining Mark Richt’s UGA staff in 2010 -- one bit.

“I evaluated defensive linemen in pro football for 11 years, and I know what first-round picks look like, and I know what they can be,” Grantham said after Tuesday’s practice. “I think for him to get to where he wants to go and for that to be true, he’s obviously got to continue to work hard this year, but I can tell you that he’s a really good player in my mind, and he can achieve a lot of goals he set for himself this year.”

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Dungy, former Dawgs counselled Charles 

January, 11, 2012
Junior tight end Orson Charles told reporters in a conference call Wednesday that he would forgo his senior season with the Georgia Bulldogs and declare himself eligible for the 2012 NFL draft.

“I will be entering the draft,” Charles said. “I just felt like I met the majority of all my goals. I felt like I have grown spiritually. Like Coach [Mark] Richt says, that is the first thing you have to do. I felt like I have grown as a player. And just praying about it, I felt like, with my family situation, I was read to enter the draft.”

[+] EnlargeOrson Charles
Scott Cunningham/Getty ImagesOrson Charles' next venture is the Walter Camp Weekend, after which he'll return home and pack his bags to leave for the NFL.
With the Jan. 15 deadline for declaring just days away, Charles rather recently made his choice.

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