UGA notes: More UGA underclassmen considering NFL

TAMPA — Add two more names to the list of Georgia underclassmen contemplating an early jump to the NFL.

Junior nose guard John Jenkins and junior cornerback Branden Smith confirmed Wednesday they had applied for an NFL draft evaluation and are giving serious consideration to turning pro.

“Yes, I’m considering it,” said Jenkins, a first-year junior college transfer who started six games this season. “I did the NFL evaluation. I don’t know what’s going on from that point. I haven’t gotten my evaluation back. Right now I’m just focusing on the game.”

Smith, who also returns kicks and plays some offense, said he is not thinking about the NFL at the moment.

“I’m just worried about this game right now,” Smith said. “I’m going to wait until after the season to be worried about the NFL.”

NFL rules require that a college player be three years removed from high school graduation before they can be considered for the draft. Smith and Jenkins join a small group of underclassmen considering making that leap, including All-American tight end Orson Charles, All-American safety Bacarri Rambo and outside linebacker Cornelius Washington.

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Aaron Murray also sent in paperwork, but said he mainly wanted to hear what NFL scouts had to say about him.

Consensus All-American outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, perhaps the Bulldogs’ most marketable pro prospect, said he is not considering the NFL option. He said he’s excited about returning and trying to help Georgia make a run at a national championship in 2012.

If all the Bulldogs’ underclassmen return they would have 17 starters back for next season and likely open with a top 10 preseason national ranking. Winning an SEC Championship and possibly playing for a national title is a factor for most of these underclassmen considering the NFL.

“That’s the main reason I’m really thinking about coming back right now,” Smith said. “That’s what my mindset is right now. But anything is possible.”

Crowell says he’s fine

Freshman Isaiah Crowell practiced Wednesday and said he’ll be ready to go for Monday’s Outback Bowl against Michigan State. The Bulldogs’ beleaguered tailback said he has recovered from the brief illness that sidelined him for Georgia’s first practice in Tampa on Tuesday.

“I had a virus,” he said before the Bulldogs’ morning workout. “I’m going to be all right. I’m going to be good.”

Meanwhile, the Bulldogs’ leading rusher said the left ankle injury that kept him out of the last two regular-season games and severely limited him in the SEC Championship game has completely healed.

Crowell, who was named SEC Freshman of the Year after rushing for 847 yards and five touchdowns, downplayed coach Mark Richt’s declaration that the tailback position was “an open competition” for the bowl game.

“I don’t really know what he means by competition,” Crowell said Wednesday. “We’ve been doing this all season.”

The Bulldogs have five healthy tailbacks ready for Michigan State. Redshirt freshman Ken Malcome currently is listed No. 1, followed by Crowell, Richard Samuel, Carlton Thomas and Brandon Harton.

Reaction to schedule

Georgia players were essentially oblivious to the 2012 schedule changes as a result of conference expansion. The Bulldogs will open league play on the road against new conference member Missouri on Sept. 8 and will play South Carolina on Oct. 6, not Sept. 8, as originally scheduled.

“I really don’t pay attention to any of it,” Jones said. “We just watch film, look at the personnel and line up and play. We can’t help who we play. We don’t make the schedule. So we just go out there any chance we get and try to make the best of it.”

Said fellow linebacker Alec Ogletree: I didn’t know anything about it. I’m still trying to focus on this year and getting this last game over with. I’ll worry about next year when it’s time to.”