SHREVEPORT, La. – From the seniors, it meant they could leave on a high note. For the underclassmen, it was an opportunity to get a jumpstart on 2010 while sending their older teammates out with a bang.
But for Rennie Curran and Reshad Jones, two juniors mulling an early departure for the NFL, Monday’s 44-20 win over Texas A&M only meant more questions.
Both were asked about their future plans following the game, and neither offered much in the way of specifics.
“I’m not leaning one way or the other,” Curran said. “The closer I get to the time, the harder it gets. It’s something I wish I didn’t have to deal with.”
Curran is the SEC’s leading tackler this season and is considered one of the top junior linebackers in the country, but his stature – generously listed as 5-11 in Georgia’s media guide – could harm his draft stock.
Jones, on the other hand, has all the physical tools, but scouts remain mixed on his overall performance. He considered leaving a year ago but changed his mind at the last minute, and he said he still doesn’t have a final decision on the future.
“I still haven’t made that decision yet,” said Jones, whose interception at the end of the third quarter Monday led to a Georgia touchdown. “I’m going to go home and talk with my coaches and talk with my family and see how things go, make the best decision for me and my family.”
That decision will probably wait for both players until Georgia hires a new defensive coordinator – something that could happen at virtually any moment.
Jones said he expected to make a decision within the next week, but also said he would definitely wait until a coordinator was in place. Still, he said he had no knowledge of exactly when that might happen.
“I heard he had some strong candidates and stuff, so I’m going to sit down and meet with the new defensive coordinator,” Jones said.
Waiting on the hire is something defensive line coach Rodney Garner said he has strongly suggested in numerous conversations with Jones in the past few weeks.
“We’re asking him to take his time, go through the process, look and see who Coach Richt hires and have an opportunity to sit down and visit with that guy and get a feel for his system, his scheme,” Garner said. “And if there’s a guy coming in here who can feature you like Tennessee does with Eric Berry, I think it would be very beneficial for him to come back.”
Garner said he hasn’t had significant conversations with Curran, but has recommended a similar course of action.
Both players said they are still waiting on the official results of their NFL advisory board review, but neither will let that be the lone determining factor in their final decision.
“I’m waiting and just spending the next couple days with my family trying to come up with the best possible decision,” Curran said. “Nobody’s putting an pressure on me at all, except for the fans. I love them to death, and I want to be able to give them a concrete answer, but I just can’t right now.”
Classes at Georgia begin again on Jan. 7, which Curran said provides an artificial deadline for them to make a decision, but the official NFL deadline is Jan. 15.
Last year, Asher Allen, Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno all left school early and Stafford and Moreno both were taken in the first round of the NFL draft – Stafford as the No. 1 overall selection.
Neither Curran nor Jones figure to go quite that high, which makes their decisions all that much more arduous.
For Jones, however, he said Monday’s game provides a strong sense of closure should he decide it’s time to move on to the professional ranks.
“I had a pretty good game,” he said, “so leaving on a good note would be good.”