December 16, 2011

Decisions to make

Will they stay or will they go?

That was the question posed to a number of NFL draft-eligible Georgia Bulldogs Friday at the Butts-Mehre Building during an interview session to preview the upcoming Outback Bowl against 12th-ranked Michigan State.

Junior tight end Orson Charles was one of the players spoken to, but he wasn't saying much.

"I haven't even given it a thought yet," Charles said. "Just going to prepare for Michigan State and take it from there."

He denied a recent message on Twitter claiming he had already made up his mind.

"No, don't believe that," he said. "It's really going to come down to what the Lord wants me to do. Just pray about it, talk about it with my family, wait to after the Michigan State game and take it from there."

Head coach Mark Richt believes Charles will make the right decision, whatever that may be.

"I would imagine every junior in the United States of America is kind of wondering when is the time and when is not the time. When the regular season is over and there is a little lull between that and the bowl game, I think some of those guys are thinking about it," Richt said after Fridays' practice. "If you'd been out there watching practice today, he was just soaking it in and enjoying being at Georgia. He's just kind of an upbeat guy who is just enjoying the experience right now. I'm sure somewhere along the line he's going to sit down and figure out what he wants to do."

Quarterback Aaron Murray said he and Charles went out to dinner Thursday night. The topic was discussed.

"We talked about it for a while. At the end he knows it's up to him. I told him to do what comfortable for you," Murray said. "After he walks off that field at the bowl game, he's going to know. If I got more left in me, I feel great and ready to move on. He a smart guy and will make the right decision."

Charles is taking his decision serious. He's also been talking to others for advice, including former NFL coach and family friend Tony Dungy, plus New York Jets tight end Dustin Keller, Tampa Bay wide receiver Mike Williams, along with Cleveland Brown and former Georgia tight end Ben Watson.

He plans on talking to San Francisco 49er tight end Vernon Davis very soon.

Charles, like many of his teammates, has submitted his papers to the NFL advisory board, a collective group of NFL officials who grade prospective draft eligible underclassmen before they make their decision whether or not to apply for the NFL Draft.

He hasn't been the only one.

Murray plans on sending in his papers as well on Monday, although he's coming back for his junior year.

So did junior safety Bacarri Rambo who said he is "50-50" on whether or not he will enter the league.

Junior defensive Abry Jones did, too, but his decision has already been made.

"I'm coming back," Jones said. "I'm one hundred percent. I just wanted to see what my grade would be."

Samuel ready to go

Richt said that running back Richard Samuel (ankle) will be ready to play in the Outback Bowl.

Samuel has not played since injuring his ankle on the final play against Florida.

"We expect him to play in the game. He got some run polish, I guess it was today. We weren't ready to go full bore with him yet, but we expect him to play," Richt said. "I would imagine when we get to the bowl site he would do everything would be my guess from what I've heard from Ron (Courson). He may go full speed tomorrow. I haven't talked to Ron yet."

Richt quashed the notion that the 230-pound Samuel would be a candidate to play fullback next year.

"No, of the bunch of tailbacks right now, we would not put anybody at fullback," Richt said. "Richard I would definitely not put at fullback, none of those kids. If they came and asked me and begged me, I don't know. I don't see those guys as being the fullback type."

Speaking of running backs, Richt re-stated is desire to use bowl practice as a period of open competition to see which of his tailbacks will start against Michigan State.

"Do you guys think anybody established themselves as a solid starter at the tailback position? I'm not seeing that. Competition is a good thing, so I'm looking forward to it."

In other injury news, Richt hopes that linebacker Mike Gilliard will be able to play in the game as well.

"I just saw him walking on the field here towards the end of practice. He did have a boot on, but he was not on crutches, he wasn't very ginger. His gait was good, and if you didn't look down below his knees you would say he was just walking normal," Richt said. "So I thought that was a good sign, but I have no idea for what that means for practicing in the next couple of days. Richard we expect to play unless there is some kind of set back. Michael we are hoping he can play."

Richt also addressed punter Drew Butler (ankle) and backup defensive end Derrick Lott (ankle)."Derrick sprained he ankle in practice yesterday. Drew, he sprained his ankle out and about I guess. What happened was he had those shoes you get for tuxedo nights and they are kind of slick and slippery," Richt said. "He slipped, but I don't know exactly how it happened. You can ask him, but something happened where he slipped because the shoes were kind of slick and it tweaked it."

This and that

Richt said he does not anticipate there to be any academic casualties as a result of poor performances during the recently completed fall semester. "I'm sure they will, but I don't know when the deadline is and I have not asked," he said. "Two days ago I started at 6 a.m. and got in at midnight. Yesterday, we practiced, went straight to the airplane, recruited and got in after midnight, got up went to graduation, did practice and came here, so really I haven't had much time to do anything other than recruit and coach." … Georgia worked out in full pads for 90 minutes Friday, although 10 players were absent to take part in Friday's graduate ceremonies at Stegeman Coliseum. "It was a great day, especially for our 10 graduates," Richt said. "We're proud of our current players who graduated. They got the day off to take part in ceremonies. We're also proud of our former players who had good NFL careers and then came back to finish. It's good to see that they know the value of an education." The current players who graduated Friday were Justin Anderson, Candler Cook, Eric Elliot, Bruce Figgins, Ben Harden, Josh Sailors, Richard Samuel and Trinton Sturdivant. Former Bulldogs Nic Clemons, who played with the Denver Broncos and Washington Redskins, and Demetric Evans, who played with the San Francisco 49ers, Redskins and Dallas Cowboys, also received their degrees.