Houston’s final season at UGA? His NFL draft stock is soaring

ATHENS – On Georgia coach Mark Richt’s radio call-in show this week, voice-of-the-Dogs Scott Howard asked: “Is there a better pass rusher than Justin Houston in the SEC right now?”

“Well, he’s pretty good,” replied Richt, who added with a laugh: “But I think he would probably need another year after this to really get great.”

“Sure he would, yes,” Howard said.

Houston is a junior, but – all kidding aside – his rising NFL draft stock suggests this might be his final season at UGA.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., the dean of NFL draft analysts, this week ranks Houston as the 17th best prospect for the 2011 draft. Kiper writes on ESPN.com’s Insider section that he tends “to avoid adding juniors and draft-eligible sophomores to the Big Board too early . . . as you don’t want to over-influence guys regarding their status.” But Kiper makes an exception in Houston’s case. “I love his size, skills and the kind of development he’s shown,” Kiper writes about the Georgia outside linebacker.

Houston was asked after practice Wednesday night if he’s thinking about leaving early for the NFL.

“I try my hardest not to think about that at all,” he said. “I just want to take it a game at a time and focus on this season. When the time gets here, I’ll think about it then. But right now I just want to focus on the season.”

(An issue that will loom over the draft decisions of Houston and other eligible underclassmen: the widespread sentiment that the NFL is headed toward a labor war that could result in a lockout next season.)

For now, Houston wants to continue building on the superb season he’s having. The SEC’s sack leader with 8.5, he was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against Kentucky last Saturday. He was credited with two sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, one pass breakup and seven “quarterback hurries” in the game.

“He’s doing great,” Richt said. “He’s really focused. He’s in tremendous condition. He stays after practice to work on his fundamentals. He’s had a couple of things he’s had to get some treatment for – nothing big – but he’s very diligent in making sure his body is as fine-tuned as it can be for Saturdays.”

++++++

By the way, Kiper has another Georgia junior, wide receiver A.J. Green, ranked No. 2 on his  draft board this week.

79 comments Add your comment

Come on Dawgs!

October 28th, 2010
9:21 am

Justin, stay 1 more year, and really move up the big board. We need you next year!

What the Huck!

October 28th, 2010
9:23 am

He might want to ask Rennie Curran how leaving early has worked out for him….and I would truly love to be watching Rashad Jones every Saturday this year.

just a fan

October 28th, 2010
9:25 am

I think there is a good possibility that A.J. and Justin stay for one more year because of the perceived lockout

Daniel's Dawgs

October 28th, 2010
9:28 am

Stay Justin, the NFL players are going to be locked out!!!!

Worm

October 28th, 2010
9:33 am

As I stated in Bradley’s blog-The guy is injured!

ozzfest

October 28th, 2010
9:33 am

Justin….LET’S “DESTROY SOME PROPERTY” this weekend.

ozzfest

October 28th, 2010
9:34 am

…UP IN ST. SIMONS AND JECKYL ISLAND WHERE ALL THE DOG PEOPLE HAVE THESE CONDOMINIUMS FOR FOUR DAYS.

82Dawg

October 28th, 2010
9:36 am

@Worm ….source??

Billy Bob

October 28th, 2010
9:38 am

Stay at UGA, Justin! Because I know you’re gonna read this and you should turn down millions of dollars to please goofy fans like me!

Daniel's Dawgs

October 28th, 2010
9:41 am

Billy Bob is not too bright!!!!! During a lockout the players do not get paid!!!!

RUCrazy

October 28th, 2010
9:42 am

He’s Gone Baby Gone! Who would not quit school for a ten million dollar signing bonus? Even late 1st rounders will get $5 million. You can always go back to school in your 30’s when the NFL money is no longer offered. There was a reason that GT lost 4 players to the NFL last year and that UGA lost 2 the year before that. Money is hard to turn down.

Billy Bob

October 28th, 2010
9:43 am

Well if you say there’s gonna be a lockout it must be true! And if there is one that must guarantee it’ll be a long lockout. But hey, if Justin get injured playing one more year, I’m sure all the selfish fans asking him to stay will pay him!

not a dawg

October 28th, 2010
9:44 am

Glad I am not on SSI with those people who leave their trash all over the place.

Al E. Gator

October 28th, 2010
9:48 am

The Florida game will knock him back dwon to earth.

With a week to prepare – Gators will dominate this gaem.

Against any decent opponents – UGA has struggles – beating a very bad TN, Vandy and KY giving the game away – has inflated UGA’s sense of self.

Final score – Florida – 28 – UGA 14.

DawginLex

October 28th, 2010
9:50 am

Costly Rainey fumble in 4th quarter leads to Dawgs win.

DirkDawggler

October 28th, 2010
9:55 am

Mel Kiper is a parasite.

Dawgballs00

October 28th, 2010
9:57 am

I think Richt finally beats UT and UF in the same
season. To bad we didn’t start the season until the 6th game. All I can hope for now is South Carolina’s annual late season melt down.

Joe B.

October 28th, 2010
9:58 am

Why does this always happen at UGA? It never fails. A guy gets a little taste of success and the damned AJC has to start slobbering all over him. Houston is having a great year, but he still is not big enough to play at OLB in an NFL 3-4. The gold standard at that position have been guys like Ware and Merriman who weigh in the 270’s and Houston is probably not 250.

Boykin is still the best NFL prospect on the defense, but neither of those guys should leave after this season.

Dawg_Mike

October 28th, 2010
10:01 am

The NFL is way too smart to allow the lockout. The NFL is the best thing going and they know it.

Dawg_Mike

October 28th, 2010
10:02 am

But if we do lose Houston, and I hope we don’t, Jarvis Jones will be ready to fill the void.

Army Chaplain in Iraq

October 28th, 2010
10:06 am

Past experience says if there is no lockout he and aj are gone, but just dreaming for a sec, if they do come back ga will be a force next year, especially if they get crowell. at any rate i will back in the states after a year in iraq. boy would a nc be a sweet welcome home present. fo dawgs and good luck to houston and aj whatever they decide.

Billy Bob

October 28th, 2010
10:09 am

I think Joe B must be a scout for the Buffalo Bills. No wonder they’re so bad!

BG

October 28th, 2010
10:14 am

Dawg 4 Life

October 28th, 2010
10:14 am

Job B.

Don’t let facts get in the way of your argument, over 1/4 of the teams in the NFL now run the 3-4 defense. Houston is 6′3″ 260, the average size of Pitt Steelers starting LB Corps. If Arnold Harrison, a former Dawg, can play in that defense, there is no doubt JH can.

If there was any negative regarding his size, it would be based on his ability to shed blocks of OL..well he proved he could do that when he stuck his hand in the ground last season.

I would love to see JH come back but his stock will absolutely not improve if he comes back for another season

timthebrave

October 28th, 2010
10:17 am

If I was AJ Greene I would go ahead and go to NFL. He is going to be a top 5 pick. As for Houston I think he should stay another year. There is a big difference from being a top 25 pick and a top 5 pick. If he shows the same improvement next year than he can really improve his draft position. I think there is more to gain by Houston staying. That being said I hope that both stay. Go Dawgs!

check Up

October 28th, 2010
10:25 am

I’m not so sure……….

Concrete Pete

October 28th, 2010
10:26 am

I’m all for an NFL lockout!

Dave

October 28th, 2010
10:32 am

Oh yeah, Florida has beaten some real power houses, too. Had trouble with Miami of Ohio, Had trouble with South Florida, TN was close until the 4th quarter. The beat UK pretty good. Where is all of this evidence that Florida has anything to show. The answer is THEY DON’T! Florida has been stagnant and not doing anything to speak of. The difference is that UGA has three straight wins and Florida has three straight loses.

nobody

October 28th, 2010
10:32 am

Unfortunately DE/Rush OLB’s stock doesnt improve after coming back. Ask George Selvie or that DE from Ole Miss. When you have a good year, you usually dont follow it up with the same or better performance. He should leave.

He's gone

October 28th, 2010
10:37 am

He would be a fool not to go if he is a projected first rounder. Sorry dawg fans.

RxDawg

October 28th, 2010
10:37 am

Yep that’s the way it goes. As soon as you get a player that performs, off to the NFL he goes. But hey, who could blame them. And everyone else has to deal with it to. Tis the way of college football.

TMZ

October 28th, 2010
10:41 am

Mel Kiper sells used cars in his spare time…….

j

October 28th, 2010
10:46 am

although the puppies are favored to win this week, they will find a way to lose because losing to the gators is a given.

effin classless group

it happens there too?

October 28th, 2010
10:50 am

The NBA and NFL are notorious for raiding GT’s athletes. I am just glad it happens elsewhere as well.

1eyedJack

October 28th, 2010
10:53 am

As I said on Bradley’s blog: Whether or not there is a work stoppage in the NFL depends on how greedy Agents and Owners are and we all know the answer to that

1eyedJack

October 28th, 2010
10:55 am

Mel Kiper sleeps in a coffin and a ratty old tuxedo.

Dirty Dawg

October 28th, 2010
10:55 am

I’ll tell you this, if Florida doesn’t beat Georgia this weekend – with that week off that everybody says Urban is so good at using – then I predict that he, UM, will have an ‘episode’ right there on the sideline and they’ll have to haul him off in a straight-jacket. I mean it’s bad enough to lose to a former assistant, but to lose again to Georgia…. just wait and see.

1eyedJack

October 28th, 2010
10:58 am

That would be the Florida State Mental Hospital in Chatahoochee.

GW

October 28th, 2010
11:00 am

Hines Ward said on Jim Rome yesterday that the lockout will happen. That is the only thing that might keep Houston and Green in Athens.

Mike Bobo

October 28th, 2010
11:14 am

I like dem french fried potaters….

Halsey

October 28th, 2010
11:21 am

Every major school loses players early. UGA is not dealing with anything that Florida, Alabama, Texas, USC, etc don’t have to deal with. UGA players making it in the NFL are helping the school look attractive to recruits. Stafford going #1 overall probably helped recruit players like Aaron Murray and Christian LeMay.

erk russell

October 28th, 2010
11:23 am

why do all fla fans down play tenn? last time i checked it took fla until the 4TH QRT to finally put them away. it took UGA the 2nd qrt to do so. gaytor fans are the worst. They truly believe football started in 1990.

dawgfan

October 28th, 2010
11:43 am

They’ll leave early and morons will whine about how they abandoned us as if they owe any of us a damn thing to begin with. The way some UGA fans behaved after Stafford and Moreno left early was disgraceful. Do you morons prefer the alternative? We could have never had these guys to begin with. Is that what you want? Of course they’re leaving for the money you goobs. What do you go to work for everyday, jelly beans? Does your employer pay you in miniature Snickers bars? Get a freaking clue people.

Maybe that was a little premature but its always the same retarded song and dance whenever a guy leaves early for the NFL. Its predictable and I thought I’d get in a pre-emptive strike. Thanks.

Gatuh's Love Them Some Corrine Brown

October 28th, 2010
11:46 am

A. If you are good enough to go pro, you go. The average playing career of a NFLer these days is down to 7 years. Part of the lockout/contract negotiations is rookie salary caps. But how do you not have a draft…what happens to all the seniors who would be drafted. And if you can go get your’s, you gotta go. If AJ and JH go, so be it. I’d rather they get a healthy good career in the NFL than risk getting hurt for my Dawgs in a senior year. I’ve accepted that is how it goes since HW sued to leave after his JR year.

B. Neither the Gathus or Dawgs know which team will show up on Sat. They both have looked good against lesser opponents and stunk against good opponents. That spells toss-up to me. I hope both teams play well and UGA still wins by 14. But I don’t know how that happens because I have been to every UGA game this year and still don’t know which team will show up on any given day.

C. Still, THWUF

Mark Richt Tan-O-Meter

October 28th, 2010
11:55 am

A first round draft pick MUST leave. The money is too good to pass up. It would be foolish to stay….too much risk.

harold

October 28th, 2010
12:26 pm

IT’S TIME FOR RICHT TO GO! WHAT HAPPENED TO THE DREAM TEAM!

Chris Rainey

October 28th, 2010
12:47 pm

Time to die yet?

Mtn Dawg

October 28th, 2010
12:53 pm

What is it with Kiper? Projecting the nfl draft in the middle of the dang season. Only creates a distraction for the players which could translate in less productivity. Why not wait until the holidays at the earliest. He’s a self-promoting idiot.

D

October 28th, 2010
1:35 pm

Yeah stay and play your Senior year. Ask Mathew Stafford how leaving early has worked for him.

Halsey

October 28th, 2010
1:41 pm

Mtn Dawg: He does it because people pay to read it. That’s kinda how business works.

People are just jealous of Kiper. He gets paid to watch and talk football. Something most of us do for fun. He also has awesome hair.