The five former Georgia football players selected in the NFL draft last weekend already are at work this weekend in their new teams’ rookie mini-camps.
Linebacker Rennie Curran is in mini-camp with the Titans, defensive tackle Geno Atkins with the Bengals, safety Reshad Jones with the Dolphins, defensive tackle Jeff Owens with the Eagles and defensive tackle Kade Weston with the Patriots.
Curran, in an interview with reporters in the Titans’ locker room, said “it still hasn’t really hit me” that he’s now in the NFL.
“I don’t think it’ll really hit me until I get to that first game and probably get my first paycheck,” he said.
You can watch the interview on the Titans’ website here.
Curran, No. 35 at UGA, has a new number, by the way: He’s currently No. 38 with the Titans, according to the nameplate on his locker.
Georgia’s Trey Thompkins, a unanimous first-team All-SEC pick this past season, definitely bucked the trend when he resisted the lure of the NBA draft. The NBA announced this week that 103 players, including 80 from U.S. colleges, filed for early entry into this year’s draft.
Eighty college underclassmen!
Even if no seniors and no international players are drafted –- and some will be, of course –- there isn’t nearly enough room for all of those underclassmen to be selected.
The draft lasts just two rounds, just 60 picks. And only the first-round picks -– 30 players -– get guaranteed contracts.
Georgia coach Mark Fox has mentioned how proud he was of the maturity with which Thompkins approached his draft decision. Even as rumors swirled about what he would do, Thompkins stuck to his plan of making an informed, rather than impulsive, decision. A lot of players far less accomplished than Thompkins -– and many no more accomplished than his teammate Travis Leslie, for that matter -– entered the draft.
“You have 50 or 60 guys, whatever the number is, jumping in this draft that shouldn’t be in it,” Fox told me recently.
Addressing the same topic to a Bulldog Club gathering, Fox said: “If you read the [ESPN] ticker every night, you’ll see there’s a different college basketball player who has declared for the NBA draft [each night]. Every night, I would pray I don’t see Travis’ or Trey’s name come across there. We’re thankful we won’t this year.”
Underclassmen in the draft can retain their NCAA eligibility if they withdraw by May 8 –- provided, of course, they haven’t signed with an agent and remain academically eligible.
If you missed it, Mark Richt had good news about offensive tackle Trinton Sturdivant’s comeback from his second knee surgery.
Sidelined almost all of the past two seasons, Sturdivant is on track to be ready for preseason practice this summer, Richt said Thursday.
“We do expect him to be ready by preseason,” Richt said. “He’s rehabbing; he’s been making very good progress. This [surgical] repair just feels different to him and feels better to him. Whether that’s psychological or not, I don’t know, but we’re excited he feels that way.”
Richt said coaches will be cautious with Sturdivant’s workload early in preseason, “but he’s really projected to be a full go.”
If healthy, Sturdivant would be a big boost to the offensive line. He started every game at left tackle as a freshman in 2007 before missing the entire 2008 season because of reconstructive surgery on his left knee. He returned for the 2009 opener at Oklahoma State but suffered a torn ligament in the same knee in that game, requiring another surgery and sidelining him for the rest of the season and spring practice.