Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Back on Dec. 22, Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green took to Twitter to angrily deny a report that he had already elected to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL Draft . You can't blame him, with his Bulldogs in the process of preparing for a bowl game that could -- and eventually would -- doom them to a losing season at the time.
But no one save a handful of glass-entirely-full Bulldog fans expected that to mean anything but a delay of the inevitable, and now the inevitable is official : Green will be turning pro a year early.
He leaves Athens on the shortlist of the greatest receivers in Georgia history, with 166 receptions for 2,619 yards and 23 touchdowns in only three injury- and suspension-shortened seasons. Green and fellow class-of-2008 blue-chipper Julio Jones -- Green the acrobatic, elegant yin to Jones' beastly, uber-athletic yang -- both entered college football with outsized expectations. Both more than lived up to them as "A.J. or Julio?" debates sprang up across the SEC during their three years. And now both will see their names called in the first round of the same draft.
But if Green is remembered as having personally delivered on his immense potential, he'll also be remembered for playing on teams that didn't deliver on theirs. As we wrote when the first reports of Green's declaration surfaced, his three years in red-and-black coincide with the three most disappointing seasons of the Mark Richt era in Athens: the 2008 fall from preseason No. 1, the 2009 7-5 underachievement, and now the 2010 crash-and-burn all the way below .500. No one who's watched Green would blame him for those failings, but it won't change the feeling that Richt and the Bulldogs could have accomplished more with arguably the most purely talented college receiver since Larry Fitzgerald at their disposal.