Georgia linebackers, from left, Jarvis Jones, Cornelius Washington and Alec Ogletree, capped off great years with an SEC East title and trip to the championship game. The trio led the Bulldogs’ stingy defense a year ago and now head to the NFL to pursue their dreams. Jones and Ogletree should be first-round picks, and Washington should go in Rounds 2 or 3.
Bulldogs lose top LB recruit to South Carolina
ATHENS — One of UGA’s top in-state targets at linebacker is off the board.
To almost nobody’s surprise, Cedar Grove High School’s Bryson Allen-Williams committed to South Carolina over Alabama, UGA and UCLA this week.
South Carolina was the longtime frontrunner for Allen-Williams after the Gamecocks offered him an early scholarship before his junior season (last August). UGA was long shot because the Bulldogs waited to offer more six months later (February).
“I had always said when I wake up that morning, and when I’m comfortable with my decision, I’m going to pull the trigger,” Allen-Williams told PalmettoSports.com. “I wasn’t planning on committing but coach (Steve) Spurrier was the first coach to call me this morning. He basically told me he wanted me to jump on board.”
ATHENS — It doesn't happen often at any college program. Former Georgia standouts Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree will be two of the first linebackers selected in the NFL Draft, which is set for April 25-27.
Their football playing ability is undisputed after they helped to lead the Bulldogs to the SEC Championship game last season.
But both have some issues that may affect their draft status.
Jones' medical condition — spinal stenosis — has been thoroughly examined by team doctors. He must also perform much better in private workouts than he did at Georgia's Pro Day workout.
“He was productive,” ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said. “He just didn't run well. Some don't. Look at Terrell Suggs.”
Suggs, who plays for Baltimore, ran the 40-yard dash in 4.84 seconds coming out of Arizona State in 2003. He's a perennial Pro Bowler and was the league's Defensive Player of the Year in 2011.
Jones officially ran the 40 in 4.92 seconds. That's slow motion in the NFL.
“He goes in that Top 15 to 17,” Kiper said. “He could go to New Orleans at 15, Pittsburgh at 17 or maybe even as early as the Jets at nine.”
Jones has dealt with his spinal condition, though he once considered giving up football.
“I knew my situation coming in (to the pre-draft period),” Jones said. “Everybody else knew my situation. What was most important for me was getting cleared medically.”
He said he's not worried about those Pro Day numbers.
“At the end of the day, everybody knows what I do. I'm a football player,” Jones said.
A two-time All-American, Jones registered 28 sacks during the past two seasons with the Bulldogs. After transferring from USC after his freshman year, he played in a 3-4 alignment at Georgia.
“I'm a complete linebacker,” Jones said. “I played in the 4-3 at USC early on in my freshman year. Played it a little bit, but really didn't understand the game like I do now.
“I feel that I can go out there and play a 4-3 right now or a 3-4. I'll do whatever they ask me to do. I'm a very coachable guy. I understand the game. (There are still) parts of the game that I have to learn.”
Jones has had meetings or workouts with Kansas City, Philadelphia and Detroit.
Ogletree started 21 of 30 games, missing the first four of 2012 on a drug suspension. Before the combine, he was also arrested for a DUI on Feb. 9 in Arizona, where he was training.
He had private workouts with 10 teams, including the Falcons. Others include New England, Baltimore, Cincinnati, New Orleans, Chicago, Miami, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Buffalo.
Ogletree wanted to make sure he was forthright with teams about his past issues, which also included stealing another student's motor scooter helmet.
“Being a good person and just letting them get to know me and see who I really am and not what they just hear about me,” Ogletree said of his approach with potential teams.
Ogletree, who started his UGA career as a safety, can play all three positions in the 4-3 and both inside positions in the 3-4 defense.
“I've only been playing linebacker two years,” Ogletree said. “It was a great transition for me at Georgia. We were in a 3-4 and while playing my freshman year as a safety, I was basically able to learn the defense.”
In addition to Jones and Ogletree, former Georgia standout Cornelius Washington is also an intriguing linebacker prospect. He was one of the stars of the combine, which sent his stock rising.
Washington could be selected in the second or third round, according to Pro Football Weekly.
In addition to the Georgia trio, Oregon's Dion Jordan, Kansas State's Arthur Brown and Notre Dame's Manti Te'o are in the group of top linebackers.
Te'o, the victim of a now-infamous Internet hoax, has been heavily scrutinized by scouts.
“If he can handle that distraction and still be able to perform on the football field, I really don't think it makes that much of a difference,” Carolina coach Ron Rivera said. “Whatever happened is a set of circumstances that only he really knows what it was all about.”
The Panthers, who hold the No. 14 pick, planned to do their own investigation.
"The bottom line is, is he a good person and can he play football?” Rivera said. “That's probably the most important thing that he'll have to answer. I don't think it's going to hurt his draft stock.”