January 5, 2009

Waiting on word

Now that Rodney Garner will be back on the Georgia sidelines next fall, the Bulldogs' off-season storyline shifts to the program's two biggest stars - quarterback Matthew Stafford and running back Knowshon Moreno.

The two players have until Jan. 15 to announce whether or not they will apply for April's NFL Draft, but according to head coach Mark Richt, he hopes to learn their plans sooner rather than later.

"In a week's time or less, we may know what they are going to do," said Richt Monday. "I don't want to put undue pressure on them. They have to figure it out by themselves. I want what's best for them and to have their heart in it."

Neither player could immediately be reached for comment Monday night, but both said following Thursday's Capital One Bowl victory over Michigan State that they were 50-50 on their respective decisions.

Richt he's spoken briefly to the pair.

"There's been a little bit of contact, but again I don't want to put any undo pressure on these young men although I want what's best for them. They have to figure it out for themselves," Richt said. "All I can say is, if they stay I want their whole heart. I want them to do it because they want to do it. I want them to love the place and believe in what we're doing, love the people and want to do great things. I want them to want to be part of a great team and a great program. I don't want a guy who is only half-hearted.

"But I will say this, if Matthew or Knowshon come back it will be because their heart said to stay. I'm not worried about those guys. If they stay it's because they love it here; they want to help us win a championship."

Richt reiterated that he doesn't believe any other current Bulldogs are interested in applying for the NFL Draft, although underclassmen like Asher Allen, Geno Atkins and Reshad Jones requested information from the NFL's advisory board regarding a potential pro career.

However, this is just standard operating procedure. Allen, Atkins and Jones have already told UGASports within the last two weeks that they intend to return to Georgia next fall.

"They're (the NFL advisory board) are supposed to call me and those young men direct. I've not heard on any of those guys yet so I'm kind of waiting on that," Richt said. "I think there are some young men out there who have already decided although I don't know what's in everybody's mind, although my gut tells me most have already decided what they're going to do. But there are others who aren't like Matthew and Knowshon who are struggling with it for the most part. I think most of the others we have are pretty settled right now."

If Stafford does return, that will put the Bulldogs in the enviable position of having two seniors atop its depth chart, along with Joe Cox.

Logan Gray will be a redshirt sophomore and will join incoming freshmen Zach Mettenberger and Aaron Murray, both of whom are enrolling early and be available to compete in spring drills.

Richt said having five quarterbacks on scholarship will not be a problem.

"That's not a bad number, really," Richt said. "If you have just three, you don't have enough quite frankly and you have to be very fortunate not to get into any trouble. Although, after watching (Bacarri) Rambo I think we could sling him back there and make some hay. But you need to have 4-5 guys back there, and if you can have five and two of them seniors, I think you'd be right on par."

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