Justin Houston heads to NFL

All-SEC outside linebacker Justin Houston will skip his senior season at Georgia to enter the NFL draft.

Houston announced his unsurprising decision Saturday, deadline day for underclassmen to declare for the draft.

“It was a very hard decision to make, but in the end I had to do what’s best for my family and me,” Houston said in a statement.

He became the second Georgia junior to enter this year’s draft, joining wide receiver A.J. Green. Three other UGA juniors who seriously considered the draft –- cornerback Brandon Boykin and offensive linemen Cordy Glenn and Trinton Sturdivant -– decided to stay in school.

Houston is rated the draft’s No. 26 overall prospect by Scouts Inc. Draft analysts generally peg him as a late first-round or second-round pick.

Houston had 10 sacks and 18 ½ tackles for loss this past season, ranking second in the SEC behind Auburn’s Nick Fairley in both categories. Houston’s 20 career sacks rank seventh on the UGA list.

A graduate of Statesboro High School, Houston was named first-team All-SEC this past season by both the media and the coaches.

In his statement Saturday, Houston thanked Georgia’s coaches and fans.

He said he “would not be where I am today” without coach Mark Richt, who “has helped me grow from a boy to a grown man.” And he added: “Thanks to all of the fans who were behind us the whole time I was in Athens.”

Richt had hoped Houston might stay for his senior season, several times making the point that all of the Georgia juniors considering early exits except Green would have a chance to significantly improve their draft stock by waiting another year to turn pro. Green is projected as a likely top-five pick.

Houston “is a great person and great player, and we’ll miss him,” Richt said in a statement Saturday. “We wish him nothing but the best as he moves into this next phase of his football career, and I’m certain he’ll be successful.”

On what proved to be his final play in Sanford Stadium, Houston intercepted a pass — the only interception of his college career — to clinch the Bulldogs’ 42-34 victory over Georgia Tech on Nov. 27.

With Houston’s decision, Georgia loses four key linebackers from its 2010 team. Seniors Akeem Dent and Darryl Gamble completed their eligibility, and junior Marcus Dowtin was released from his scholarship to transfer to another school.

– Tim Tucker, UGA blog

189 comments Add your comment

chickenman

January 15th, 2011
5:36 pm

FIRST!
and good luck to Houston, he was one darn good dawg!

jrmdvm1

January 15th, 2011
5:37 pm

Good luck, Justin. As with all the Dawgs in the NFL, I will be cheering for you to do well. Wish you could have stayed, and I think it would have helped your draft position, but, as you said, you have to do what you feel is best for you.

Bernie Matt

January 15th, 2011
5:38 pm

Smart Young Man!

Supes

January 15th, 2011
5:44 pm

He had an outstanding season for the Dawgs, wish him well and we are going to miss him for 2011 season. He’ll fit perfectly with a team like the Ravens, Pats and Steelers.

MDAWG24

January 15th, 2011
5:44 pm

And with that we bid you farewell. Not that we didn’t already know with Justin missing all week in the weight room. Good luck to him.

Stilladawg

January 15th, 2011
5:45 pm

Good luck Justin..I don’t blame you brother…I would have done the same thing… On another note, damn I hope we sign Ray drew!!

Dirty Dawg

January 15th, 2011
5:46 pm

Wised decision Justin to leave now while your stock is high. I remember when Q. Moses stayed for his senior year after leading the SEC in sackes. Moses did not have a good senior year and his stock fell to the sixth round. Good luck at the next level.

Mike

January 15th, 2011
5:46 pm

Can’t blame him at all when he needs to support his family and he’s projected as a first round pick. Thank you for everything you did for the team in your career, Justin. Good luck at the next level!

xian jing

January 15th, 2011
5:50 pm

As awful as this is cause justin houston is an absolute beast. This makes room for ray drew and I’ve heard this announcement is all ray needed to decide to come to the dawgs

K Conley

January 15th, 2011
5:51 pm

Justin, I appreciate the effort you gave on the field every Saturday. If all of our athletes competed and were as dedicated as you, winning would be a foregone conclusion. Best of luck and hope you replace John Abraham in the ATL..

Chuck

January 15th, 2011
5:51 pm

Can’t blame the guy. Late first round money is hard to pass up. Good luck, and thanks for single handedly beating Tech this year. What a way to go out in Sanford Stadium.

gomdawg

January 15th, 2011
5:53 pm

GOOD LUCK, ONE HELLVA PLAYER 100% ALL THE TIME YOU WOULD HAVE BEEN A GOOD LEADER

BufordKing

January 15th, 2011
5:54 pm

Good decision and hope the best for you Justin – thank you for becoming a Dawg and for always being a Dawg!!! Will be rooting for you in the NFL!

JB

January 15th, 2011
5:56 pm

3rd rounder………..2 mil signing bonus……a teacher in the State of Georgia will Avgerage about 50 k for their career, That’s 1.5 mil…for 30 years of HARD work. 2 mil for playing ball for 12 months,
See ya Justin.

BG

January 15th, 2011
5:57 pm

Good Luck Houston! Houston will be a late 1st rounder or early second rounder.

Dawg

January 15th, 2011
6:00 pm

3rd round pick.

Smoked Cheese

January 15th, 2011
6:02 pm

5th round pick.

Go Dawgs

January 15th, 2011
6:03 pm

Man Kid was good sucks to lose him. What do you think are LBs are next year.

Dawg

January 15th, 2011
6:05 pm

You would think Houston would have learned something from Curran’s bad decision to turn pro. Never played a down of football this year in the NFL.

Gofortwo

January 15th, 2011
6:08 pm

He leaves early for the big bucks, we tell him how great he’s been and then we spend next season blaming the defense players when they don’t sack the quarterback. What logic. Cox would understand.

1962 Dawg

January 15th, 2011
6:09 pm

Good luck Justin Houston in the NFL. Hopefully you can go in the 1st round along with A. J. Green. Projected as a late 1st round, maybe Falcons will get a shot at drafting you and you can stay home.
Houston would be a great replacement for Anderson.

Atl_Dawg

January 15th, 2011
6:11 pm

Wish u all the best Houston. U were and will always b a damn good dawg!

Ga Dawg 97

January 15th, 2011
6:12 pm

Another one that leaves no legacy! Maybe ne can take Richt with him…

Dawg

January 15th, 2011
6:12 pm

3rd round pick. Practice squad next year and very few reps.

dawggirl

January 15th, 2011
6:13 pm

I wish him luck, but not sure why he waited until the very last minute. It’s been known for months.

We sure will miss him, but I hope he ends up having a long and distinguished professional career in the NFL. With any luck, he’ll be with the Falcons.

Dirty Dawg

January 15th, 2011
6:13 pm

This program is sinking fast. 6-7 again next year. At least we’ll get a new coach!

bwell

January 15th, 2011
6:14 pm

that free up a scholarship to go after another great recruit!

Jim

January 15th, 2011
6:14 pm

Good luck Justin. Take some of your signing money and sponsor a scholarship for a 350 pound nose guard that does a 4.50/40.

dawgfan

January 15th, 2011
6:16 pm

This is about as shocking as Tech losing a bowl game.
See ya Justin. You made the right move.

RomeDawg

January 15th, 2011
6:16 pm

Can’t blame him! Good luck in the NFL. For you guys that say no legacy, I wonder what your legacy is? Fact is he has accomplished more and will make more money by the time he is 24 than you and your kids will accomplish in your whole life, combined. IDIOTS!!!!

CBB1

January 15th, 2011
6:16 pm

Can’t blame him. We are going to suck next year again. Until we get new coach, will NEVER make it back to Atlanta.

Dawg

January 15th, 2011
6:18 pm

dawggirl, I know exactly why he waited to the last minute. There is a very good chance he will fall to the 3rd or 4th round and not get the big bucks. He knows this and that is why it was a hard decision. He is at the most he may get playing time in 3rd down situation as a pass rusher. Most like he will be on the practice squad just like Curran was all year. These guys are not bright.

dawgfan

January 15th, 2011
6:21 pm

Dawg, you are not bright. Houston is projected to go much higher than Curran was. You need to stop pretending to know what you are talking about. It makes you look even more stupid than you already are.

Thanks.

Dawg

January 15th, 2011
6:21 pm

bwell, there are only so many great recruits out there to give a scholly too.

dawggirl

January 15th, 2011
6:25 pm

Dawg, what exactly are you basing your information on?

Dawg '94

January 15th, 2011
6:25 pm

Could have been a top 5 pick with a BIG senior year. Oh well…good luck Houston.

Dawg

January 15th, 2011
6:26 pm

Good Luck Houston! You made a big mistake.

saban

January 15th, 2011
6:27 pm

Keep Richt.

He couldn`t stand a beat down by Boise State after the beatdown by Central Florida.

Should I let Crowell play for the dawgs or not. Nah I will give him toj Auburn.

like2win

January 15th, 2011
6:28 pm

1962 Dawg

January 15th, 2011
6:29 pm

I agree with Dawgfan!! Houston is a much higher prospect than Curran,
And to the poster above who spoke of Moses having a poor year his senior year.
Moses couldn’t get to the QB his senior season because he was doubled all year long, thus Charles Johnson had the better year at the other end position. Both are still playing BTW.

Dawg

January 15th, 2011
6:29 pm

dawegurl, 60% of DE that can only pass rush and have no coverage skills like Houston slip in the draft 1 to 2 rounds from where they are projected to go.

GEORGIA DOME

January 15th, 2011
6:30 pm

good luck and thanks for YOUR TIME AT uga

Delbert D.

January 15th, 2011
6:37 pm

He will draw interest from all of the 15 teams that run the 3-4 for sure. It’s rare that they get to see an a good 3-4 linebacker in college.

Brucerugby79

January 15th, 2011
6:44 pm

Good Luck Justin-hope you end up with Falcons-wish you the best wherever you end up=GO DAWGS!!!

1962 Dawg

January 15th, 2011
6:45 pm

DAWG

Obviously you’ve been watching a different Justin Houston than me.
Justin has good containment and is not only a pass rusher.
You must have missed his containment play on the corner during the Ga. Tech game where he not only had the corner sealed off but picked up a fumble and scored with it.
2nd or 3rd leading tackler on the team behind Akeem Dent.
Which Justin Houston you been watching??

dawgfan

January 15th, 2011
6:45 pm

Well there you have it folks. I guess Houston wasn’t consulting with anyone as knowledgeable as Dawg in his decision making process. What a huge mistake. And Dawg gives out this valuable information for FREE on internet message boards. Houston really screwed up here.

Holy bejeebus.

Bhag

January 15th, 2011
6:46 pm

I think I have heard of about 70 players that are projected to go in the first round thus far in the last couple of weeks last I checked there only about 32 or 33 first round picks….. Justin is a great player but I bet he does not get drafted until mid 2nd to early 3rd round…. Don’t get me wrong there is no shame in that but I would just like to know that these boys are being advised by more than just some sports agent……

just a fan

January 15th, 2011
6:51 pm

Dawg,

just so you know Rennie Curran had 8 tackles and played in the last nine games of the year and is listed as the backup to WIll Witherspoon another former dawg. Do not begrudge any athlete for leaving school early and taking money that is there for the taking. I wish he had came back because our D would have been better with him but we will survive and have a great year.

Birrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrd Man

January 15th, 2011
6:53 pm

Good luck to the young man. 3rd rounder at best.

harold

January 15th, 2011
6:54 pm

THE DREAM AT GEORGIA IS NIGHTMARISH.