Georgia Bulldogs wide receiver Riley Ridley (8) celebrates after a touchdown.
Photo: Alyssa Pointer
Photo: Alyssa Pointer

Georgia receivers Riley Ridley, Mecole Hardman jumping to the NFL

Georgia junior receivers Riley Ridley and Mecole Hardman have declared for the 2019 NFL Draft.

Ridley and Hardman join Georgia tailback Elijah Holyfield and tight end Isaac Nauta in leaving early for the NFL

Underclassmen have until Jan. 14 to declare for the upcoming NFL Draft, which takes place April 25-27 in Nashville. The NFL combine is Feb. 26 through March 4 in Indianapolis. 

Riley, from Coconut Creek, Fla., led the Bulldogs with 44 catches for 570 yards and nine touchdowns this season. 

The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder had five catches in the Sugar Bowl for a team-high 61 yards in Georgia’s 28-21 loss to Texas on Jan. 1. 

Ridley came on the national radar with his 6-catch, 82-yard performance in last season’s College Football Playoff championship game against Alabama in Atlanta. 

Riley’s season-high receiving yardage in 2018 came against Missouri when he had 87 yards on five catches.

Hardman, from Bowman, Ga., opened this season on fire. 

Hardman scored at least one touchdown in each of the first four games of the season, including a two-touchdown performance against Middle Tennessee that included a punt return for a touchdown.

 The speedy 5-foot-11, 183-pounder is ne of the fastest players on Georgia’s football team. 

Texas kept the ball away from Hardman in the Sugar Bowl, as he had just one catch for 3 yards and one kick return for 28 yards in the 28-21 loss to the Longhorns on Jan. 1. 

Hardman finished this season with 34 catches for 532 yards and seven touchdowns — but he had only 10 catches for 174 yards over the final seven games of the 2018 campaign. 

If Hardman had enough punt returns to qualify this season, his 20.06 average on 16 returns would have ranked second in the nation to New Mexico’s Marcus Hayes (21.2). 

Hardman also had 14 kick returns for 353 yards, an average of 25.21 yards.

Tight end Luke Ford also annouced he is leaving the program, transferring to Illinois. 

Ford announced the decision on his Twitter feed on Friday afternoon. The freshman had previously said his grandparents’ health was the reason he put his name into the Transfer Portal in December.

Ford came to Georgia as the nation’s No. 3 tight end in the 2018 recruiting class out of Carterville, Illinois. He appeared in 9 games this season and recorded just 1 catch for 4 yards.