Tight end Orson Charles announced on Wednesday that he would be leaving Georgia early for the NFL.
Fortunately for the Bulldogs and their hopes of a repeat divisional crown, Charles is the only underclassmen making the early leap.
At a press conference Friday, Mark Richt and several draft-eligible underclassmen — safety Bacarri Rambo, cornerbacks Branden Smith and Sanders Commings, running back Carlton Thomas and linebacker Cornelius Washington among them — announced that the players will be returning for another season in Athens. Suffice to say, Richt was very pleased with the development.
“Today is great day for Georgia,” Richt said. “We have a lot of good news today. Quite a few guys submitted papers for the draft to see if it was time to make the decision to fulfill their dream of playing in the NFL. These men decided to stay at Georgia. This group of players has tremendous leadership and talent and has played some tremendous football in the Southeastern Conference. I am thrilled that they have made this decision.”
Rambo, Smith, Commings and Washington were or will be starters, while Thomas finished second in rushing. Additionally, All-American LB Jarvis Jones, who’s a sophomore football-wise but would’ve been eligible for early entry into the NFL, announced previously that he would return for another year.
That means 10 of the 11 defensive starters listed on UGA’s pre-SEC championship game depth chart will return, as will second-team All-SEC quarterback Aaron Murray and leading rusher Isaiah Crowell.
Add it all up and UGA could very well find itself inside the preseason Top 10 and the front-runner for a second straight SEC East title. According to the juniors, that’s exactly why they returned.
“Every man in this room came to Georgia with dreams and goals of winning championships,” Commings said. “That is the reason that I decided to stay here at Georgia. With the leadership in this room we realized that the opportunity of achieving those dreams are great and I am excited to be able to be a part of it.”