November 18, 2008

Will they go pro?

Georgia defensive tackle Geno Atkins knows where he'll be playing football next fall.

As for running back Knowshon Moreno, quarterback Matthew Stafford and cornerback Asher Allen, they haven't made up their mind.

But Atkins has.

Tuesday in an exclusive interview with UGASports, the junior defensive tackle said there's "No way" he's forgoing his senior season next fall because "My mama wants to be there when I walk down the aisle on Senior Day."

There will be no second-guessing his decision. Atkins said he will come back no matter where he is projected to fall in April's NFL Draft.

"I'm coming back, there's not any question," Atkins said. "That other stuff (projections), it doesn't matter. My mom wants me to come back, she wants me to graduate and I want to come back. Final word."

Moreno didn't give a definite answer on his future, but said that's because he's yet to weigh any of his options. He insisted he's not leaning one way or the other. The New Jersey native said he's heard the scuttlebutt that he's expected to forgo his junior year, but said that he hasn't given his pro future a single thought.

"Man, I haven't, I really haven't," said Moreno, who scoffed at the notion that he's definitely leaning toward leaving UGA. "I don't know where that's coming from, I really don't. I'm just taking everything in stride and don't think about that too much. All I'm thinking about is having fun."

Both Moreno and Stafford said they will wait until after the bowl game before coming to any conclusion. The deadline for underclassmen to apply for the NFL Draft is Jan. 15.

"Classmates and fans ask me all the time to stay and that kind of stuff," Stafford said. "But I won't even think about it (leaving early) till after the first of the year when I sit down with my family."

Like Moreno, Stafford he's not leaning one way or the other.

Allen seemed surprised when asked if he was considering an early future in the pros.

"Wow, it would just be a blessing to be considered but I haven't thought a thing about it," Allen said. "I'm being perfectly honest. The thought (turning pro) has not even crossed my mind."

Allen didn't rule out giving it some thought, however.

"If the opportunity comes, it's definitely something I'd have to talk with my family about," he said. "You never know. But I haven't even thought about it."

Moreno said there would be plenty of incentive to return for his junior year.

"Of course. Just being part of Georgia, just knowing the type of players that we'll still have here, the young guys, and just being part of this team atmosphere again would be great," Moreno said. "I'm pretty sure I'll talk to Coach (Mark) Richt and Coach (Tony) Ball about it. I'll talk to my family about it, but this is not the time yet."

He's not getting caught up in any projections, either, many of which have him going early in the first round.

"It's not hard for me to not pay attention to all that. I'm the type of person who can focus on what I need to focus on in that moment in time and right now that's just the regular season," Moreno said. "I'll think about it after the bowl game, sometime around that area. But I really don't know. I'm just having so much fun. I love the atmosphere at Georgia. I love college football. I'm having a great time."

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