UGA notebook: Houston, others face stay-or-go decisions

MEMPHIS -- Justin Houston knows he has a big decision to make, but insists he can't bring himself to think about it.

"It's crazy," he said Wednesday. "I keep putting it off, but I really need to start thinking about it because time is flying by. And the time to make my decision is coming soon."

The decision facing Georgia's junior outside linebacker, the SEC leader in sacks, is whether to enter the 2011 NFL draft or return to school for his senior season.

The NFL's deadline for eligible underclassmen to declare for the draft is Jan. 15, but Georgia players are expected to announce their decisions by the start of spring-semester classes Jan. 10.

Houston said he'll focus on the stay-or-go choice after the Bulldogs finish their season against Central Florida in the Liberty Bowl on Friday. He has asked the NFL's underclassmen advisory board for a projection of the round in which he likely would be drafted.

Georgia's draft-eligible underclassmen also include: wide receiver A.J. Green, offensive linemen Cordy Glenn and Trinton Sturdivant, cornerback Brandon Boykin, punter Drew Butler and placekicker Blair Walsh. All of those players asked the NFL for a projection of their draft stock -- except Green, who doesn't need anybody to tell him he'll be a first-round pick. The others expect responses from the NFL board by next week.

Green is widely expected to turn pro because he's a likely top-10 pick, although he continues to insist he hasn't decided.

Coach Mark Richt said none of Georgia's underclassmen who are considering the draft have informed him of a decision.

"Even if they knew in their heart what they were doing, I don't think they'll say anything until after the bowl game," Richt said. "And from what I understand, I don't know if anybody's going to be ready that moment. ...  There might be a couple who know they're staying, but the guys that are thinking about going ... they're going to want a little time to reflect with their families after the bowl."

Ticket sales lag

Georgia has sold slightly less than 5,000 tickets for the Liberty Bowl, about half of the school's 10,000-seat allotment. Another 1,000 or so will be used for players, staff and guests.

The SEC covers the cost of up to 3,000 unsold tickets from a member school's bowl allotment, leaving Georgia on the hook for about 1,000 unneeded tickets at $50 apiece.

"It just kind of is what it is," UGA athletic director Greg McGarity said. "Yeah, you wish you could sell more."

He thinks sales were hurt by the late date on which Georgia became bowl-eligible. The Bulldogs weren't assured of a bowl until a Nov. 27 victory over Georgia Tech evened their record at 6-6. Clinching bowl eligibility so late delayed promoting ticket sales, McGarity noted.

"The goal is that you're in this situation infrequently," he said.

The Miller caravan

Bruce Miller, a former Woodstock High School player who is Central Florida's star defensive end, will have a large cheering section at the Liberty Bowl.

"My family is bringing a crew of 45 people," said Miller, who grew up as an avid UGA fan. "They're going to caravan all the way up together."

While many of them might be UGA fans in other circumstances, "they better be in the black and gold, I know that," Miller said with a laugh.


Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said redshirt freshman defensive end Derrick Lott has impressed in bowl practices and could get increased playing time Friday. Richt plans to meet Thursday with the position coaches to discuss other young players who might merit more playing time. ... The Bulldogs held their final practice of the season on a damp Wednesday afternoon. ... Central Florida defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable, asked how the Knights plan to defend Green: "We're going to try to sneak a 12th guy on the field."