Georgia stars leave early for the NFL

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ATHENS, Ga. --- Matthew Stafford got the answer he hoped for when the NFL advisory committee for underclassmen told Georgia's junior quarterback he would be picked in the first round of April's draft should he leave school early.

Knowshon Moreno didn't need to hear the committee's opinion to make a decision.

The redshirt sophomore running back is the rare underclassman who didn't file the necessary paperwork to be evaluated, yet he and Stafford came to the same conclusion. Both players announced at a Wednesday news conference at Georgia's Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall that they will forgo the remainder of their college eligibility to enter the NFL Draft.

"If I had my choice, I'd like for these guys to stick around," said Georgia coach Mark Richt, who sat between the duo at the press conference, "but I think they're ready."

Most draft analysts seem to agree. ESPN's Scouts Inc. rates Stafford as the No. 7 overall prospect and No. 2 quarterback available in the draft, while naming Moreno the No. 18 prospect and the top running back available.

Both seem to be surefire first-round picks -- with ESPN's most recent mock draft predicting Stafford would go to the Kansas City Chiefs with the No. 3 overall pick. Other mock drafts have him going No. 1

"I know this is the right decision for me and I know I'm ready for it," said Stafford, who was Georgia's starter by the third game of his freshman year and leaves with a 27-7 record.

"I think the toughest part is probably leaving my teammates," Moreno said.

Richt advised NFL teams to "take them as high on the board as you can get 'em. Trade up for them if you're smart."

Reach David Ching at david.ching@morris.com.

GEORGIA'S TOP RETURNEES

Tailbacks


(With 2008 stats)


- Caleb King, redshirt freshman 11 games, 61 carries, 247 yards, 4.0 avg., 1 TD


- Richard Samuel, freshman, 11 games, 26 carries, 133 yards, 5.1 avg., 1 TD


- Dontavius Jackson, freshman


- Carlton Thomas, freshman


Commitments


- Washaun Ealey, Twins City, Ga.


Quarterbacks


(With 2008 stats)


- Joe Cox, junior, 3 games, 11-15-0, 151 yards, 2 TDs


- Logan Gray, redshirt freshman, 2 carries, 21 yards, 10.5 avg.


Commitments


- Aaron Murray, Tampa, Fla.


- Zach Mettenberger, Watkinsville, Ga.


-- Morris News Service

JOHN BAZEMORE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Georgia coach Mark Richt is flanked by QB Matthew Stafford (left) and running back Knowshon Moreno at Wednesday's news conference.

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Craig Spinks
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Craig Spinks 01/08/09 - 03:01 am
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What proportion of young

What proportion of young people who participate in college athletics today are "bona-fide" student-athletes and what proportion are enrollee-entertainers?

sctex
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sctex 01/08/09 - 06:11 am
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Go

Go Gamecocks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

mike jones
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mike jones 01/08/09 - 06:58 am
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Good luck i know you guy's

Good luck i know you guy's will do well

IsAnyoneAlwaysRight
40
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IsAnyoneAlwaysRight 01/08/09 - 08:23 am
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yeah, we can finally

yeah, we can finally cheer.....wait until next year! good riddence.

I4PUTT
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I4PUTT 01/08/09 - 08:29 am
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I love my DAWGS! WE all

I love my DAWGS! WE all expected this but, man...what a loss. Another year from these two guys and a strong, experienced offensive line would guarantee us another preseason #1 in the world ranking. But I wish these guys well. We can question the scholastics involved here all we like, but these two should shine in the NFL for a long time. College football has truly prepared these guys for their future. GO DAWGS!!!

deeo1055@yahoo.com
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deeo1055@yahoo.com 01/08/09 - 08:37 am
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Craig, who cares? There

Craig, who cares?

There were many non-jock loffers at UGA when I finished there 30+ years ago---rich boys partying daddy's $ away, gals "looking for a husband". Heck, even Bill Gates did not finish undergrad. Top college athletes put alot of tangibles back into UGA[pride, ticket sales, athletic revenue, BSing by sports proud alumni so research grant get put there etc.].

If you prefer to support-watch listen to the debate team-- good for you.

I prefer to support UGA for football. My goodness, look at my tax dollars that otherwise go there. And to win, you gotta have the best. Real world works this way on everything else and positive stuff gets done.

r11mcbell
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r11mcbell 01/08/09 - 08:40 am
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the running back reminds me

the running back reminds me of a young T.O. He will show his true unstable self at the upper level. Staf. will eventually be a allstar. He reminds me of a young Brett.

ITDoc
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ITDoc 01/08/09 - 09:07 am
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Every person who leaves

Every person who leaves college early for prosports should blow out a knee during the combine. College is to prepare you for LIFE not a few seasons of possible glory. The road is littered with former college sensations who failed to even make one year's salary in the pros. Those who finished college win. Those who don't are losers.

justthefacts
30015
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justthefacts 01/08/09 - 09:11 am
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mcbell, I am courious. What

mcbell, I am courious. What did Knowshon do that indicates he is unstable??

justus4
124
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justus4 01/08/09 - 09:24 am
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A great move by Moreno to
Unpublished

A great move by Moreno to capitalize on NFL's lack of really great running backs. He will be well paid for his abilities and should not look back, because the money is most important. A so-called education is double-speak because it pays no bills. He should be playing with Seatle next year.

ITDoc
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ITDoc 01/08/09 - 09:44 am
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Pro sports are riddled with

Pro sports are riddled with kids/thugs who haven't learned any life skills. There are FEW stories of dedicated athletes, after getting the millions for signing, insisting on finishing their college degree. Kudos to them. What was wrong with the old days, not allowing underclassmen into the pros? There weren't all the legal problems todays pro athletes seem to be causing.

justthefacts
30015
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justthefacts 01/08/09 - 09:50 am
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ITDoc, pro players do not

ITDoc, pro players do not cause anymore legal problems than the general population. Probably less. It justs get more publicity. How can you legally deny a person to become a professional players at whatever point they are ready??

toppergem
125
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toppergem 01/08/09 - 10:08 am
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Congratulations fellas! Go

Congratulations fellas! Go ahead take hold to this opportunity...it only comes once. Enjoy the ride while you can. But, never forget having an education is like having money in the bank. When all other things fail, education give you options. Please complete you education in the not too distant future.

ITDoc
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ITDoc 01/08/09 - 10:10 am
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The same way I legally denied

The same way I legally denied my children from activities that were legal but harmful. I told them NO. My daughter wanted to take a year off before college, then use the fund I'd built. I told her "NO". She chose to take the year off, now she pays for her own schooling (5 yrs later). It's not the pro leagues who should forbid early entry, it's the parents of these KIDS who should put the long term success of the athlete ahead of a short season of glory.

Unbelievable
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Unbelievable 01/08/09 - 10:32 am
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Ha Ha Ha. ITDoc. You are

Ha Ha Ha. ITDoc. You are funny. The parents could say 'no' and cut of the money. As soon as they declare 'themselves' eligible for the draft they can sign with an agent. The agent is going to put them up with money/place to stay. Then once the draft happens, boom, the last thing they are going to care about is the tuition money you put away for them. Once they are over 18 the only thing you can do is quit giving them money, and alienate them, so then when they have kids, or get married, they dont even invite you to the wedding. Good job. Knowshon and Matt are really nice kids, I have spoken to them on several occasions and I am happy for both of them. They are no greedier than anyone else in this country. Im sure you work for free right? When your employer offers you a raise you say 'no thanks, the company needs it more than I do' right? Hypocrites and haters, this place is full of them.

justthefacts
30015
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justthefacts 01/08/09 - 10:41 am
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ITDoc, these guys are 20 and

ITDoc, these guys are 20 and 21 yrs old. I don't think the parents saying NO is reasonable thinking.

ITDoc
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ITDoc 01/08/09 - 10:43 am
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I am self employed. I employ

I am self employed. I employ others. When my kids got to college age, they all had funds to go if they went right away. My eldest two took advantage of this, my youngest did not. TO THIS DAY, my kids will seek my advice and follow it. I hope they succeed, but the ghettos of this nation all have the failed sports hero who is now down on his luck. Those who go ahead to pro sports with a full college degree have my utmost respect. Those who do not, are exactly like lottery losers.

Unbelievable
133
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Unbelievable 01/08/09 - 11:38 am
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So you are self employed and

So you are self employed and like to stereotype people and pass judgement on others? I bet working for you must be a real joy. You are making the assumption that those who finish college and fail at pro sports are big 'winners' and well to do members of society, when truth be known there is just as likely a chance that those who do graduate fail in the long run too. By that logic you are saying that your two eldest kids are winners and your youngest is a loser. The ghettos of this nation are filled with a lot more than 'failed sports heros'. Have you ever been in a ghetto? How about public housing here in Augusta? I dont see Ryan Leaf or Ben Johnson living in there. You sound like one of the uncoordinated kids that never excelled in sports, so you like to project your superiority over them with the fact that you are self employed and put your kids through college. If you werent so much older, I would think I knew you back in school, I probably knew someone just like you I'm sure.

justthefacts
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justthefacts 01/08/09 - 11:53 am
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I would imagine if someone

I would imagine if someone offered $50 mil to one of your children, you advice would change.

mable8
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mable8 01/08/09 - 12:43 pm
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Good for you, ITDoc; parents

Good for you, ITDoc; parents DO need to say NO when it is appropriate...great job and kudos for raisnig responsible children.

Fed UP with MCG
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Fed UP with MCG 01/08/09 - 01:40 pm
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It really was no surprise to

It really was no surprise to the UGA Nation. Everyone including these two players are clouded by the idea I am going to make it rich quick. The only two individuals that graduated from school and are successful on and off the field are the Manning brothers. I have a funny feeling that both of them are going to be seriously hurt within the first two years. ESPN said it best, "If Stafford would have stayed one more year he would be been more marketable than he is now." Moreno should have stayed and at least tried to break Hershel's record and gotten a Heisman and again the more awards the more opportunity to get looked at harder. See they are pressured by the economy not by fame. Good Luck guys don't say we all didn't tell you when you get hurt, thanks! Heaven help us all it's going to be a long next year : (

d1zmljqg
1166
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d1zmljqg 01/08/09 - 01:53 pm
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Joe Namath was 15 credits

Joe Namath was 15 credits short upon leaving Bama in 1965. Forty two years later in Decemeber 2007 he completed his requirements and got his degree. Question: how many credits did Pacman Jones have upon leaving?

steve-o
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steve-o 01/08/09 - 02:03 pm
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The DAWGS will be fine. We

The DAWGS will be fine. We don't re-build, we re-load. Goooooooooooooo DAWGS!!!!!!!!!

justthefacts
30015
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justthefacts 01/08/09 - 02:53 pm
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Fed UP, how does Stafford

Fed UP, how does Stafford better position himself by staying another year? He will probably be the #1 pick this year. Speaking of injuries, he could also be hurt playing at UGA. How do you think that would position him for the draft next year? His pro contract will contain guaranteed money. His decision is a no brainer and you would have left as well.

Unbelievable
133
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Unbelievable 01/08/09 - 02:58 pm
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Not to mention that most

Not to mention that most student athletes, the ones that actually care, generally put a clause in their contracts with stipulations for returning to school. When Herschel left I dont remember all the 'he is really messing up bigtime' advocates. He came back and got his degree, did he need it? No, but he promised his mother he would. Stafford may have been more marketable next year, but with the salary cap back on in 2010 he would get a whole lot less up front and long term. It's funny when people who have never had to face it can curse someone who has the opportunity that these kids have. Too much 'haterade' going around.

cparker
89
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cparker 01/08/09 - 03:20 pm
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d1zmljgg.... Leaving for the

d1zmljgg.... Leaving for the NFL early is a great opportunity for a select few. Sure some fail and would have been better off finishing college, but many have been rewarded for realizing the opportunity. Kevin Garnett & Koby Bryant skipped college and went directly into the NBA and are doing fine. The NFL has tougher eligibility requirements, but I certainly feel they should accept going to the NFL because they have several months to attend college later just as Emmitt Smith did when he left Florida early. Lets not forget that most players stay until graduation and never get drafted. It is true that an education is like gold in your hands, but they are college educated men and I feel capable of doing both.... They can play in the NFL and go to college to. The only thing they did wrong was play for UGA and not my beloved Gators!!

1941
4
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1941 01/08/09 - 04:24 pm
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Why are so many of you ''

Why are so many of you '' Player Haters''. Most of you sound so jelous. What is it to you if they drop out early? You are not the one paying their tution, or will be paying their salary. Would you rather they said they were droping out to sell drugs. You people need to stop commenting on things that do not concern you.

1941
4
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1941 01/08/09 - 04:30 pm
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ITDoc Your daughter showed

ITDoc Your daughter showed you, she was her own person,and she did not need your money. That was the best year of her life, and she will never forget it.And you still have your money, and she still have her memories.

ITDoc
1
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ITDoc 01/08/09 - 05:45 pm
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My daughter is now attending

My daughter is now attending college 5 years later on her own dime for which I have tremendous respect. She says not going directly to college was a waste of those years. The money I saved for her has long been reinvested for her children, if she chooses to have any. ALL my kids are considered winners by me, after all, they had TWO PARENTS FROM BIRTH. FYI: I grew up on Roosevelt Blvd, Gary IN. Played basketball THRU high school. I wasn't the star nor the worst on my teams, but we won and lost together. Talk not to me of lack of understanding of the ghetto. I grew up in conditions that make CTX look like the Taj Mahal. I stand by my statements: Pro sports and society in general was better served by not allowing underclassmen to enter the respective drafts. The immaturity and millions of dollars is a volatile mixture. Lastly, no man or woman on Earth has anything that I could possibly desire, for I am truly Blessed. Call me jealous not.

justthefacts
30015
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justthefacts 01/08/09 - 06:07 pm
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ITDoc, I understand your

ITDoc, I understand your point of view. Believe me, I wish they had stayed. But only for selfish reasons. However, again, I don't see how you can deny individuals 20/21 yrs old a right to make a living however they may choose to do it. Congrats of your kids success. You are a great parent.

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