What I am unsure of is the impact that Stafford going number one would have on Georgia. While I think I speak for most in the Dawg Nation, we would love to see one of our own go number one, I do question what this message tells future prospects.
Matthew Stafford came to Georgia in 2006 as arguably the highest profile recruit of the Mark Richt era. After throwing a touchdown pass on his first attempt in G-Day that year, the expectations were set high. Georgia struggled through the 2006 season, but both Stafford and the team found their stride by closing with three straight wins over ranked opponents. The 2007 season made Stafford a star, as he helped lead the Dawgs to a number 2 final ranking. And the combination of Stafford and Knowshon Moreno had the entire Georgia fan base excited about a shot at a national title in '08.
As the '08 season played out, Stafford had his best statistical season but the Dawgs dropped games to Alabama and Florida and fell out of the race for the SEC Championship. Despite a great performance from Stafford, the Dawgs lost to Georgia Tech to close the season and I knew that Stafford's career at Georgia was over. He had accomplished what he needed to do to become a top pick (win games on a national stage, display his skills, and improve season to season). For his career at Georgia, Stafford had key wins over LSU, Florida, and Auburn, but he never played for an SEC championship. I can't help but feel that he left with business unfinished.
It scares me that future Bulldog prospects may begin to see the Georgia program as just another stepping stone to the NFL and not as a place to come and win a championship. Having a number one overall pick will be a selling point for Coach Richt and his staff to use to attract the top talent, but will those players come to Georgia to win a championship or just to get to the next level? In some situations, it is a no-brainer that a player will leave early for the draft. There is no better example right now than AJ Green. Barring injury, I see now way that Green is in Athens after the '10 season, but that doesn't mean I hope he leaves early because he will be another top 10 pick for the Georgia program.
I wish Stafford, Knowshon, and Asher the best at the next level but I honestly wish they had returned. I know they will represent us well as high picks in the draft, but if I had it my way, I would take another 7th round draft pick quarterback who leads us to SEC Championships over the #1 pick any day of the week.
Last time I checked, Joey Harrington got cut instead of this guy.