Crowded Pro Day puts positive light on UGA

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NFL Pro Day at the University of Georgia

The most Georgia players selected in one draft was eight in 2002. There’s a very good chance the Bulldogs will top that mark this year. That was especially evident Thursday as 17 Bulldogs were put through the paces by NFL scouts Thursday morning during the annual UGA Pro Day.

“I’d be shocked if we didn’t have more than that,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said of the 2002 record. “I’m hoping it at least gets into double-digits.”

As one might expect, there was more than a little interest generated by this year’s proceedings. Ninety-three NFL personnel representing all 32 NFL teams were on hand. Credentials were issued for 95 media members, including a television crew from ESPN that broadcast the event online via ESPN3.

“A day like today is so big for the players, but it was big for Georgia as well,” said Richt, who had a dinner for all the budding pros Wednesday night. “I’m sure the Bulldog Nation enjoyed it, and there are highlights of it being shot out all over the country, all over the world. So it’s a big deal.”

Pro days are conducted across the country this time of year, but few schools could offer the depth of talent that Georgia put on display Thursday. Two-time All-American outside linebacker Jarvis Jones has been projected as a top-10 pick, and linebacker Alec Ogletree and defensive lineman John Jenkins have drawn first-round grades. In all, as many as nine Bulldogs could be off the board in the first three rounds.

“Today was a great moment for this university,” Jones said. “It’s a blessing to see all those guys come out there and get a chance to get to the next level. I’m excited for them. I’m excited for myself.”

Georgia has had 84 players drafted in the past 16 years, an average of 5.3 per year. Most years the Bulldogs rank among the top 10 teams in players drafted.

“A lot of it has to do with the type of talent base that’s being recruited here at Georgia,” Richt said. “Obviously you’ve got to have a certain amount of ability for the NFL to even think about drafting you. So I think we’ve done a good job in that regard, and then you’ve got to develop them once they get here.”

A Richt in action: The only non-Bulldog who worked out Thursday has a familiar last name — Jon Richt. Mark Richt's eldest son is a quarterback who recently graduated from Mars Hill College, where he finished his career as the school's all-time leader in completions (567), attempts (1,109), yards (8,169) and touchdown passes (69).

Richt went through all the drills with the other draft hopefuls, but his main reason for being involved was to throw to Georgia wide receiver Tavarres King because NCAA rules prevent current UGA quarterback Aaron Murray from doing so.

“I thought he did extremely well,” Richt said of his son. “I’m happy for him.”

Mason glad to be home: Hutson Mason was one of several Georgia players who went on mission trips over spring break. However, he was the only one who came home sick.

Mason, the Bulldogs’ No. 2 quarterback, said he contracted dengue fever from a mosquito bite while on the week-long trip to the Dominican Republic. Mason said he fell ill on the last day of the trip. He lost “six to seven pounds” after returning and practiced for the first time Thursday.

“I’m coming back from a Third World country, and the one thing I’m looking forward to most is a big meal,” he said of the malaria-like illness. “I haven’t been able to eat one yet.”

Gurley feeling good: Richt and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo have remarked that they thought Todd Gurley looked slimmer this spring. He's not.

The tailback said he’s actually up to 234 pounds. “I feel good,” he said. “I think it’s just from all the running we’ve been doing and lifting and mat drills and then just stretching. I just feel so much better. The best I’ve ever felt.”

Etc.: Murray said he has lost about eight pounds and is down to 207. He hopes to play at around 205 next season and be a more effective runner. … Tailback Keith Marshall said he was "full go" for the first time Thursday. He missed the first week of spring practice with a hamstring injury, then eased back into action Tuesday. … The Bulldogs will hold their first full scrimmage of the spring Saturday morning at Sanford Stadium. It is closed to the media and the public. Richt said the scrimmage would be "as close to a game as we can get."