A.J. Green leaves UGA for NFL draft

A.J. Green delivered the long-expected news Sunday: He will forgo his senior season at Georgia and enter the NFL draft.

For months, if not years, the star wide receiver had been expected to leave UGA after his junior season for the riches of pro football. And while he didn’t veer from the predicted course, he insisted that finalizing the decision came harder than many thought it would.

“Throughout the last couple of weeks, it was pretty hectic, just making a sound decision for my family and [me],” Green said from his home in Summerville, S.C.

He said he told Georgia coach Mark Richt of his intention on Friday but added that he wasn’t certain of the decision until Saturday.

Green is generally projected as a top-five NFL pick, with some draft analysts suggesting that Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck’s decision last week to stay in school could put Green in contention to be the No. 1 overall selection.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for me,” Green said. “This is a longtime dream since I was a little boy. I feel like my skills are up to par to make this jump. I feel like I proved myself in one of the best conferences in college football from day one.”

A three-year starter at Georgia, Green ranks third in school history in receptions (166) and receiving yards (2,619) and second in touchdown catches (23). His numbers would be larger if not for injuries that sidelined him for three-plus games in 2009 and an NCAA suspension that cost him the first four games of the 2010 season.

Green was suspended for selling his Independence Bowl jersey for $1,000 to a person the NCAA considered a sports agent.

Now, Green is in position to make tens of millions of dollars from his first NFL contract.

Even so, he said, “it was one of the toughest decisions I’ve made, just leaving the brotherhood I have made at Georgia. . . . I’m going to really miss the guys and the coaches.”

The 6-foot-4, 212-pound Green captivated Georgia fans with his leaping ability and knack for making improbable catches. But the Bulldogs had generally disappointing seasons during his three years, posting records of 10-3, 8-5 and 6-7, respectively, and he expressed regret that the team did not win an SEC championship during his time in Athens.

“It hurts. That’s what I came there for,” he said. “But things happen for a reason. I’ll keep working, and I’ll be a Bulldog for life.”

The Carolina Panthers have the No. 1 pick in the draft, and Green acknowledged it’d be nice to play so close to home. Charlotte is about 200 miles from Summerville.

“I’m pretty sure a bunch of my family and friends could make that trip easily,” he said.

But he isn’t assuming anything. “You never know with that draft,” he said. “It’s going to be a fun process. I’m going to work [to be drafted] as high as I can.”

Richt wished Green well, saying in a statement: “A.J. has made an immeasurable impact on our team over the past three seasons. . . . I’ve enjoyed the blessing of working with him and getting to know his family, and we wish him all the success in professional football. Once a Bulldog, always a Bulldog.”

Georgia awaits word from several other juniors who are weighing whether to enter the draft: outside linebacker Justin Houston, cornerback Brandon Boykin and offensive guard Cordy Glenn. Offensive tackle Trinton Sturdivant said Friday that he will stay in school for his senior season.

– Tim Tucker

325 comments Add your comment

Dylan

January 9th, 2011
1:02 pm

1st but this is terrible

maddawg

January 9th, 2011
1:03 pm

maddawg

January 9th, 2011
1:03 pm

I hope Marlon Brown will now step up and be the man.

When we GATA we GETA

January 9th, 2011
1:03 pm

I don’t blame him THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES!!!! Damn Good Dawg!

DougSearch

January 9th, 2011
1:05 pm

sad, but expected news. AJ, if you ever want to invest some of that new cash in a Great local Coffeeshop, we can make a deal! :-) http://dougsmugs.com/

Samir

January 9th, 2011
1:06 pm

Thanks, A.J., for three awe inspiring years of fascination. Bulldawg Nation is sad for your loss, but happy for your future. Go Dawgs.

Sensei John Kreese

January 9th, 2011
1:08 pm

Good luck, AJ. Sorry to see you go.

Dawg Tired

January 9th, 2011
1:09 pm

Hope all goes well in the NFL for AJ.

Frank Lane

January 9th, 2011
1:09 pm

Never rose to his potential. Not even close. I predict that he will not be a great pro. I would not draft him.

Ttd

January 9th, 2011
1:12 pm

Not shocked but it still sucks, thought maybe since he missed the first half of the season he would come back. Can’t be too mad cause he’s got a chance to go #1, can’t pass that up. Still Georgia really needed him next year to rebuild.

dawgfan

January 9th, 2011
1:12 pm

Good luck AJ. I bet you can make eye contact with a fan in the NFL and not get flagged for a 15 yarder. Don’t blame you for leaving.

Ron

January 9th, 2011
1:15 pm

Dylan are you just a moron? “This is terrible.” Did you really think he was going to stay? All these thugs care about is the money! Look at Andrew Luck. Passed up millions to come back and get his degree.

go Dawgs

January 9th, 2011
1:16 pm

Frank Lane….you’re an idiot

Cuz

January 9th, 2011
1:17 pm

Good luck AJ, see ya on Sundays.

dawgfan618

January 9th, 2011
1:19 pm

Frank Lane, little bit of sour grapes? AJ was a great bulldog and it’s not his fault we didn’t win more games. I never saw him loaf or give up on a play. Sad to see him go, but wish him nothing but the best in the pros.

dawgfan618

January 9th, 2011
1:20 pm

Ron, to call AJ a “thug” is laughable. You, sir, are retarded.

St. Bernard

January 9th, 2011
1:21 pm

What’s the career expectancy of a WR in the NFL? If you can get paid, go get your money. You can always come back and finish up school. If you’ve only got 8 years, why only get paid for 7?

It sure would be nice to see Crowell and Drew become the next two stars at UGA. It’s still possible to get eight of twelve on the AJC’s fab fifty list.

UGADAWG 1978

January 9th, 2011
1:26 pm

Frank Lane is clueless.

kevin

January 9th, 2011
1:27 pm

frank lane what have you been watching? it didn’t take an intelligent sports fan to look at aj green’s HIGH SCHOOL highlights to see that he’s a once-in-a-generation (if not once in several generations) talent. he did stuff in high school that nfl veterans only dream of doing. go to youtube and search aj green and watch some of his summerville video. and then remove your idiotic post. sure, he may not have a great nfl career. anybody can get hurt or get put in the wrong system. look at herschel walker post-dallas. nobody ever used him properly, but he STILL had 18,000+ nfl total yards. but if aj doesn’t become a great pro, it won’t be because of lack of freakish talent.

SoCal Dawg

January 9th, 2011
1:27 pm

Good luck. As much as Dawg Nation hates it it is the right choice.

Made famous by Hershel

January 9th, 2011
1:27 pm

Let’s see: play another year with an awful team, or jump to the NFL and make a ton of $
Hmm

Richie_Rich86

January 9th, 2011
1:28 pm

nice decision AJ. With the coaches in place you can’t be taught anymore and the only reason your playing college ball is to get yourself ready for the Pros. Goodluck and represent UGA proudly baby!! Go Dawgs!!

Justin

January 9th, 2011
1:29 pm

Frank Lane, you are a first class moron

NCAA Critic

January 9th, 2011
1:30 pm

Thank goodness. I would have been concerned all next year that Green would sustain a serious injury. We’ll miss him, but will cheer for him on Sundays.

CrawforDawg

January 9th, 2011
1:32 pm

” A.J. Green made it official today.” Official, that’s the operative word. Yes, while he was a great Dawg and fun to watch, A.J. Green made the decision to forego his senior season of college ball when he was a senior playing high school ball.

TXDawg

January 9th, 2011
1:33 pm

Nice decision AJ….loved you in the Red & Black but when it’s time to make a career move, then you have to do what’s best for you. I remember a Yellow Jacket back in the early 90’s by the name of Ken Swilling. He stayed a year too long and missed his “cash” boat. Same thing with James Forrest, now that I think about it. Perfect examples of why it’s not always the best choice to stay a year longer.

Good luck!

Jim 007

January 9th, 2011
1:35 pm

A J is a Great Player and a Class Guy

Wish him All The Best

Rob in Chapel Hill

January 9th, 2011
1:35 pm

Can’t blame him, and I wish him well. At the same time, his legacy as a Dawg will be more about what he didn’t do, than what he did. For selfish reasons, I hoped that he would come back and really cement his status as a Dawg legend. But like others have said, let’s see it as an opportunity for someone to really step up, be it Brown, King, or others. In the meantime, go Hoop Dawgs!

ron

January 9th, 2011
1:37 pm

IT’s best,too much talent to return to a less than mediocore team.The biggest news next season will be who will replace Mark Richt and to have his talents overshadowed is not deserving.

JB

January 9th, 2011
1:37 pm

In other AJC headlines today ” Obama is a Liberal”….LOL

SoCal Dawg

January 9th, 2011
1:38 pm

Ron- money… college degree…money… college degree. Are you kidding? Take the money! Why get a degree that he will do nothing with. He went to college to be an NFL player his education is done. If Luck blows out his knee next year he may look noble but he will look like a noble fool.

Dawgtime

January 9th, 2011
1:38 pm

I am very proud of A.J. He is an excellent young man and a great football player. I truly believe he will be the best WR in the NFL in 3 years. He is the total package. I wish the Falcons could draft him, but he will be long gone by the time they make their selection. I would love for the Panthers to select him with the 1st pick. The young man is from South Carolina and that team needs a lot of talent. A.J. is the best receiver I have ever seen. He makes catches that are incredible. A great talent. Once a Dawg always a dawg. Best wishes A.J.

DawgFan

January 9th, 2011
1:38 pm

Well, after the year (losing year) UGA had, he will be well prepared to lose in the NFL as well, considering the teams that will draft him up top will be horrible.
But, great career at UGA. I wish we could have seen him with Stafford one more year with Marino in the backfield. That would have been special.
Good Luck AJ and Thanks

Chipper

January 9th, 2011
1:38 pm

Too bad A.J. won’t be able to pitch and catch with Matt Ryan (a much better “Matt” option). It would be nice to have him close to home. Beware of Charlotte, A.J. It is a dead end. Banking and not much else.

SMITTYSTHEMAN

January 9th, 2011
1:39 pm

Heck of a player. Will be a great pro.

JB

January 9th, 2011
1:40 pm

AJ ask the coaching staff for the offensive game plan in the Liberty Bowl to give to his new coach’s in the NFL. say’s he wants to tell them, “this is NOT how to use me”.

Dbalcer

January 9th, 2011
1:41 pm

Good luck AJ I hoped you would stay but totally understand why you are going. I hope you finish your degree during the off season. I don’t understand why people feel the need to classify players that don’t do what they want as thugs. It is so wrong to call them that. We need to learn how to support our players and not step into childish name calling of opponent players and even our own players.

Frustrated

January 9th, 2011
1:41 pm

Yet another talented Dawg that will not see the record books at UGA because of poor coaching. Mo Mass prolly told AJ to look at what he is doing in Cleveland since leaving UGA! Sad but true!

gcs

January 9th, 2011
1:41 pm

If there is anyone out there that is actually shocked by this, you need to know that this is the new world in college football. It is 3-and-done and – coming soon to a college near you – don’t be surprise to see redshirt sophomores making the jump.

This is why recruiting and reloading is so much more important today than it ever has been. Freshmen need to be ready to play right way.

P.S. Andrew Luck is an idiot.

.

Old_dawg

January 9th, 2011
1:41 pm

I agree AJ should go pro now, as the $$ may not be there next year. But, I do agree with Frank Lane that AJ DID NOT live up to his full potential. True he make some dang good catches, that included some very acrobatic moves, and led the dawgs in all receiving categories, but we have had better If it matters, I say to AJ, take the money and run. That is about all that can be expected of most college athletes today. Oh, wait… some like Andrew Luck to care about the “team”. But, I guess he and all those that decide tro come back are clueless. Yeah, right. (And before most of you tell me AJ doesn’t owe me another year, yada yada yada, I know that, and really don’t give a rat’s “patutie”.

Barry Bonds

January 9th, 2011
1:41 pm

Good luck AJ! We will miss you, but understand your decision!

Gratefuldawghead

January 9th, 2011
1:42 pm

AJ will be Awsome in the Pros and the only person that can hold him to under 100 yards will be BOBO!

UGA fan

January 9th, 2011
1:43 pm

Good Bye! I never forgave him for selling his jersey this year and missing the first 4 games. Glad he’s gone!

tom

January 9th, 2011
1:45 pm

Hey Frank Lane, don’t worry… you will not get to draft him. An NFL team will though.

Greg Talley (Ho)

January 9th, 2011
1:45 pm

You bunch of low life scumbags. Why not be truthful, or has politcal correctness just swallowed any dignity you might have left? Another worthless recruit, who never accomplished ANYTHING with our program. Adios.

kevin

January 9th, 2011
1:46 pm

i’m glad jesus’ offer of forgiveness isn’t like ours

just a fan

January 9th, 2011
1:47 pm

Thanks for the memories and great catches. Good luck at the next level

Go Dawgs!!!!!!!!!

Dawgtime

January 9th, 2011
1:47 pm

In terms of the stupid and negative comments, it is sad to see GT fans change screen names just to write something stupid. Yes, UGA is struggling. Yes, A.J. Green is the greatest WR in UGA history. Yes, A.J. made some mistakes like all college kids. Yes, he made a great decision to become rich. Yes, he will earn more than a GT engineer. Yes, UGA had a tough season. YES, UGA defeated GT yet again. We defeated GT during one of worst seasons ever. What does that say about GT? NO, Reggie Ball nor Joe Hamilton majored in engineering. No, GT is not as good as they were with Gailey’s recruits. GT fans need to wake up. We beat you in football and basketball. Both of your programs are in trouble and all you can do is throw insults at UGA. That is sad.

old dawg fan

January 9th, 2011
1:48 pm

It amazes me the people who are “upset” at him leaving.
Why stay and play another year-risk injury for playing with a “declining UGA football program”?
He sold his Independance Bowl Jersey for $1000-he is “broke”-Go and Get the $$$ in the NFL.
Good Luck and “thank you” for being a “bright spot” in our last 3 seasons, I just hope the “poor coaching” you recevied in Athans didn’t hurt your career too bad!

Danny G

January 9th, 2011
1:49 pm

Another great player never reaching his potential at UGA and going to a star in the NFL. How many times can we say coaching?