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Elijah Holyfield declares for the 2019 NFL Draft as the fourth Bulldog to forgo senior season

UGA players who may be leaving for the 2019 season

After the Sugar Bowl, the buzz is who may be leaving Georgia
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After the Sugar Bowl, the buzz is who may be leaving Georgia

Georgia running back Elijah Holyfield is the latest Bulldog to declare for the NFL Draft.

Holyfield, who received his first full workload in 2018 splitting carries with sophomore D’Andre Swift, recorded over 1,000 yards on the season and eclipsed the mark against Texas on Tuesday. He and Swift both ran for over 1,000 yards in a season where Georgia had more success in the run game.

Mecole Hardman, Riley Ridley and Isaac Nauta were the others to publicly share their intentions Friday.

“I would like to take this time to officially declare for the NFL Draft,” Holyfield said in a graphic released on Twitter. “I go forward, while always reflecting on my time in Athens, knowing I will work tirelessly to make Dawg Nation proud. No matter where my playing career may lead me, I will always be a GA boy.”

As the hours pass, Georgia players are leaving the program like doorbusters on a day-after Thanksgiving sale. Maybe it’s just the usual Friday news dump, but this is to massive proportions.

Smart has been vocal on draft-eligible players and their decisions to leave school a year early. Last season, he thought it only made sense if the player graded “in the first-or-second round.” For the most part, that was the case for the Bulldogs as Roquan Smith was selected eighth by the Chicago Bears in 2018 and there weren’t many other players to leave early.

A year later, however, there is quite the falling out for Georgia after an 11-3 season and a 28-21 loss to Texas in the Sugar Bowl. Holyfield marked the fourth Georgia player to leave the program for the draft early (two also transferred, so that marks six departures for the Bulldogs in a 24-hour period) and other players still have decisions to make — place-kicker Rodrigo Blankenship and safety J.R. Reed.

Smart, despite losing a plethora of key contributors, gave support in a statement released moments after Holyfield’s decision.

“We wish the best to Mecole Hardman, Elijah Holyfield, Isaac Nauta and Riley Ridley as they pursue their careers at the next level,” Smart said. “All four of these juniors contributed significantly to our success during the last two seasons and we look forward to them making the best out of their shot at the NFL. As with all our players, we also will encourage them to complete their degrees to get prepared for the next chapter of their lives.”

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