Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Dawgs Leaving Early under Richt - Part 1

In the next few days, AJ Green will make the inevitable decision to forgo his senior season at The University of Georgia for a career in the NFL. While there are a handful of other Georgia players who are also making the same decision this fall, I only think Justin Houston will ultimately join AJ in the draft early. I decided to look back at those players who have left school early during Mark Richt’s tenure as coach in Athens. Not counting Paul Oliver (who originally came back for his senior season before flunking out and entering the supplemental draft), I have come up with a list of those who left early. Here’s a look at those players and whether I think the decision to leave early ended up being the right or the wrong decision (note: I compiled this list by hand. This is part 1, part two will appear on the blog tomorrow) Players are listed by the last year they played at Georgia.


Terreal Bierra – 4th Round by Seattle - Bierra played a backup role for the Seahawks before starting 12 games in 2004. But after Seattle had one of the worst secondaries in the league in ’04, Bierra was controversially cut in 2005 when he left the team to help rescue family members trapped in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. Bierra was charged with murder after killing a man in a drug dispute in fall 2009.
Verdict: Good decision – despite the fact that Bierra is now in prison, Georgia was loaded with talent at the safety position in 2002. Sean Jones and Thomas Davis were both excellent and Bierra would have not improved his draft status.

Charles Grant – 1st Round (25th overall) by New Orleans –Grant was a force on the Saints line for most of the decade before leaving the team after the 2009 season. He has 423 tackles and 47 sacks in his career.
Verdict: Good decision – No question about this one. After going in the first round, he earned a six year extension following a successful rookie season.


Chris ClemonsUndrafted – Clemons was not a starter at Georgia, but left after the 2002 season. After missing the 2003 season with injury, he established himself as a solid NFL back up.
Verdict: Bad decision – I remember Clemons as being good, but not that good. He played linebacker and Georgia lost Boss Bailey and Tony Gilbert to graduation after the ’02 season. He definitely could have improved his draft status instead of getting hurt in the NFL.
Musa Smith – 3rd Round by Baltimore – Smith played a backup role with the Ravens before breaking his leg on a horse collar tackle by Roy Williams (for which the horse collar rule was put in place). He recovered but never found a spot as a starting running back in the NFL.
Verdict: Bad Decision – I know running backs have a short life in the NFL, but Smith had failed to meet expectations until 2002. A successful senior season in 2003 could have increased his draft value and maybe helped him earn a starting job.


Robert Geathers – 4th Round by Cincinnati – Geathers earned a starting spot in 2005 and has remained a start on the Bengals’ line until today. For his career, he has 176 tackles and 23 sacks.
Verdict: Good decisionGeathers became a starter by his second season and has had a successful career. Returning to Georgia may not have lead him to a team (Cincinnati) that was rebuilding its defensive line.

Sean Jones – 2nd Round by Cleveland – Jones injured his knee and missed all of his rookie season in 2004. He played mostly on special teams in 2005, before becoming a starter in 2006. He had a good career with Cleveland before signing as a free agent with Philadelphia in 2009. In 2010, he signed a two year deal with Tampa Bay.
Verdict: Bad Decision - Jones has had a great career, but the knee injury suffered in his rookie season may not have happened at Georgia (wishful thinking).

Thomas Davis – 1st Round (#14 overall) by Carolina – Davis has developed into a great outside linebacker for the Panthers, but unfortunately has ran into a series of knee injuries that have caused him to miss much of the last few seasons.
Verdict: Good Decision – Davis’ ferocious play at safety in college has translated well to linebacker in the NFL.

Odell Thurman – 2nd Round by Cincinnati – Thurman had a great rookie season for the Bengals, but drug and off the field issues landed him in trouble. After repeated violations, he was suspended by the NFL indefinitely in 2008.
Verdict: Bad decision – A successful rookie season turned out to be his only successful season. Another year under Coach Richt may have proved good for him.

We’ll be back with part 2 tomorrow!

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