ATHENS - Georgia is losing a third member of its defense to the NFL draft, and it will have a big impact on next season's team.
Nose tackle Kwame Geathers has decided to forego his senior season, the junior told Dawgs247.com on Wednesday. UGA later confirmed that Geathers had told the coaching staff he was leaving.
"I felt like I was ready to go," Geathers told Dawgs247.com. "I think I did everything at Georgia that I wanted to do. I felt like it was time to get a jump on the next step in my career."
The news was not unexpected, as Geathers' family has a history of leaving early: His older brothers Robert and Clifton both left Georgia and South Carolina, respectively, a year early. Robert Geathers is a starting defensive end for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Never miss a local story.
That means Georgia will return just four starters from its defense: Defensive end Garrison Smith, outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins, inside linebacker Amarlo Herrera, cornerback Damian Swann.
Juniors Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree have also declared for the draft, but their decisions were expected. Jones is considered one of the top players in the country, and Ogletree is a likely first-round pick.
Geathers, on the other hand, told Dawgs247.com he received a draft grade of third-to-sixth round from the NFL draft advisory committee. But Geathers, listed at 6-foot-6 and 350 pounds, is a fourth-year junior who last month joked that he had already "broke the trend" among his family members by sticking around for four years.
Georgia now has to find a new nose tackle. Mike Thornton, who will be a redshirt junior, and John Taylor, who will be a redshirt freshman, are the top players on the current roster. Chris Mayes, who has enrolled early, is also a candidate. The team is also making a strong run at Dooly County High School prospect Montravius Adams.