Originally created 01/04/06

Georgia tight end likely to enter NFL draft



ATLANTA - Georgia tight end Leonard Pope has probably played his final game for the Bulldogs.

After Monday night's 38-35 loss to West Virginia in the Sugar Bowl, Pope said he would likely enter the NFL draft rather than return to Georgia for his senior season.

"I've thought about it and talked it over with the coaches and my family, and I prayed about it a lot," Pope said. "I pretty much came to a decision that I'm going to probably leave."

Georgia coach Mark Richt acknowledged Tuesday that Pope is leaning toward the NFL but doesn't think he has made a final decision.

"I'm not sure about our tight end situation yet," Richt said.

Pope, who hasn't hired an agent, plans to make a formal announcement about his plans shortly. The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL draft is Jan. 15.

The 6-foot-7, 250-pound Pope made the All-Southeastern Conference team for the second year in a row and led the Bulldogs with 39 catches for 541 yards and four touchdowns. He had six catches for 50 yards, including a 4-yard TD, in the Sugar Bowl.

"I've pretty much made my decision," Pope said. "I've talked to my family. Pretty much everybody (has been supportive). It's a great deal right now."

Pope's defection wouldn't be a huge blow to the Bulldogs. They have junior Martrez Milner (14 catches, 291 yards, two TDs) ready to step in and also are expected to sign a top high school prospect from California.

A more pressing concern is junior end Quentin Moses, who hasn't announced whether he will return in 2006. He led the Bulldogs with 11½ sacks and is the only non-senior starter on the defensive line.

"It's a question I've been putting off and putting off, and now I've got to go home and discuss it with my family," Moses said. "I can't say right now that I'm going to come back or come out. It's something I definitely have to think about."

When asked if he felt ready for the NFL, Moses said, "We always can get better. I'm highly critical of myself, so there's definitely areas I can improve on."

Said Richt, "Quentin is thinking it all through before making a decision. I don't think either one is 100 percent sure about what he's going to do yet."