ATLANTA — Saying he’s accomplished all he wanted in his college career, Georgia tight end Orson Charles is headed to the NFL.
Charles said Wednesday he’ll give up his final season of eligibility with the Bulldogs, a decision he said wasn’t all that difficult after he prayed on it and met with a host of advisors, including former NFL coach Tony Dungy.
“You know how you have a gut feeling when you pick a college?” Charles said during a conference call with the media. “I really couldn’t go wrong either way.”
But the Bulldogs announced some good news later in the day: Former Seminole County star Bacarri Rambo will be returning for his senior season.
UGA’s Grantham close to contract extension
ATHENS — Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham says he is “on track” to an agreement for a contract extension.
Grantham issued a statement on Wednesday in response to speculation he could be a candidate to become the Atlanta Falcons’ defensive coordinator or have interest in another job. The Falcons are looking to replace another former Georgia defensive coordinator, Brian VanGorder, who was hired by Auburn this week.
Grantham, a former Dallas Cowboys assistant, has one year remaining on his three-year contract with Georgia. He says he has talked with coach Mark Richt and athletic director Greg McGarity and is close to “finalizing details” on a contract extension.
He says he wants to reassure recruits and returning players of his desire to remain at Georgia “for a very long time.”
Rambo, who had a breakout season at safety with eight interceptions, also considered entering the draft. But the school said late Wednesday that he’ll be back for his senior season.
Rambo, a 6-0, 218-pound native of Donalsonville, finished the 2011 season with 55 tackles for the SEC Eastern Division champions.
The AP First Team All-American started 13 games and had 157 interception return yards, which ranks third all-time in Georgia history.
During his three seasons with the Bulldogs, Rambo is tied for third in the school record books with 13 interceptions and has recorded 162 career tackles.
He helped anchor a defense that finished third in the SEC this season in total defense (268 yards/game), pass defense (165.1) and rushing defense (103.4).
The 6-foot-3, 241-pound Charles, who had 94 receptions for 1,370 yards and 10 touchdowns with the Bulldogs, has yet to hire an agent but said there’s no chance of returning for his senior year. He finished with the most yards in school history for a tight end and tied Leonard Pope’s mark for most touchdowns at that position.
“I felt like I was ready,” Charles said. “There’s definitely a lot of things I can work on as far as blocking, catching and running routes. But I feel like I can accomplish all that.”
Charles made 45 catches this past season, tied for second on a Georgia team that went 10-4 and reached the Southeastern Conference championship game.
He worked the last two seasons with quarterback Aaron Murray, his teammate at Plant High School in Tampa, Fla.
“To play with my high school quarterback was a blessing,” Charles said. “How many people can say they did that?”
Murray, according to Charles, didn’t make any attempt to lobby his friend to come back for another season, merely telling him to do whatever was the best decision for his future. After Charles made the announcement, the quarterback tweeted, “Congrats to my boy ... Can’t wait to see my boy ball out in the NFL.”
Charles wouldn’t reveal where he ranked in the draft projections provided by the NFL scouting combine. Several Web sites project him as a second- or third-round pick with good potential because of his receiving skills.
“What (the NFL) gave me, I felt really confident about,” Charles said. “That’s another reason why I made this decision.”
Charles is the first Georgia underclassman to enter the draft. Defensive star Jarvis Jones, who led the SEC with 13.5 sacks, would seem another leading candidate for the NFL but said repeatedly late in the season that he intended to return for another season with the Bulldogs. He has two years of eligibility remaining after transferring from USC.
The Bulldogs know they’ll have to replace their top two tight ends. Second-stringer Aron White, who had only nine catches but four of them for touchdowns, is a senior.
Charles said Georgia should still be in good shape with Arthur Lynch moving up the depth chart and some likely additions on signing day. The Bulldogs are in the running for a couple of tight ends.
Before announcing his decision, Charles talked with Lynch.
“He’s fired up,” Charles said. “He’s ready. I’m pretty sure he’ll do a very good job of doing whatever the coaches ask him to do.”