ATHENS – Kwame Geathers smiled before the question was even asked. The Georgia junior defensive tackle knew the subject of turning pro early was going to come up. It comes with the family.
All told, there have been eight Geathers’ family members who have played college football. Some have gone pro early, some have completed their eligibility. But both of Kwame’s brothers turned pro early even though they weren’t sure to be picked high:
Robert Geathers was a fourth-round pick in 2004 after passing on his senior year at Georgia. Clinton Geathers was a sixth-round pick in 2010 after forgoing his senior year at South Carolina.
So now here comes Kwame, who was asked Friday if he would buck the family trend.
“I feel like I already broke the trend – I’ve been here for four years,” Geathers said, laughing.
That’s true: Geathers is a fourth-year junior who was eligible to go pro after last year. But he didn’t even submit his paperwork to the NFL, one of the few Georgia draft-eligible defensive players who ruled it out early. Jarvis Jones was the other one.
This year, both are more seriously considering it. Jones, coming off a second straight consensus All-American year, is likely to go, saying Friday a decision could be imminent.
“Hopefully soon,” Jones said. “If not this weekend, then sometime next week, or maybe after the bowl game.”
Geathers is likely to take more time. This year he will send his name in to the draft advisory board. Earlier this week ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper said Geathers currently projects as a second or third-round pick.
Geathers was asked if that projection would be good enough to spur him to go pro.
“Somewhat. But I’m one of those guys that doesn’t listen to that kind of stuff. Because it could go either way,” he said. “You’ve got the (NFL) combine. You’ve got a lot of time left that you’ve gotta prove yourself.”
Geathers didn’t have eye-popping stats the past two years: He started seven games since 2011, and this year recorded 37 tackles, five for a loss, and just one sack.
But at 6-foot-6 and 355 pounds he is the kind of space-eating nose guard that NFL teams salivate over. He also has the family lineage. Geathers was asked if any brothers or cousins had imparted advice from their own experiences on leaving school early.
“I feel like all of them feel like they made the right decision,” he said. “I think some of them (feel): ‘If I had stayed another year it probably would’ve benefitted me too.’ But I feel like in their heart they’re happy with the decision they made.”
If Geathers returns, he will enter the season as Georgia’s unquestioned starter at nose tackle. The past two years he’s shared that with John Jenkins, who is a senior.
“It impacts a lot. I feel like if I come back, I’ll be more in a leadership role on the defensive line,” Geathers said. “Me and Garrison (Smith), and we’ve got a bunch of young guys that can play too, that I feel will have a great career here.”