Posted by Jerry Hinnen
[UPDATE: Green has told his Twitter followers that this report is "100% false." It's unclear whether that means he has not decided to declare for the draft or that he is definitely returning to Georgia.]
It's not surprising -- in fact, it's the complete opposite of surprising -- but it appears Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green will be declaring for the 2011 NFL Draft. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution , citing a report from a local Atlanta television station, is reporting that Green has made his decision and that he is "100 percent" committed to turning pro after his junior season.
While the timing of the report could be better where the Bulldogs' focus for a tricky-looking Liberty Bowl date against UCF is concerned, Green's decision has been expected virtually from the moment he arrived in Athens and put 963 receiving yards on more than 17 yards a completion as a true freshman. Over his three-year career, no one in the country hauled in highlight-worthy receptions more often than Green, and it will be a shock if Green goes any lower than the first six or seven selections in the draft.
So while Georgia can't claim to have not seen this coming, it won't keep them from being disappointed. Even for all of Green's immense talent, his three years in red-and-black coincide with the three most disappointing seasons of the Mark Richt era in Athens. The 2008 Bulldogs were ranked No. 1 preseason and lost three games, including a 49-10 humiliation against Florida; the 2009 team limped into the bowl season at 7-5 after an upset loss to Kentucky; and the 2010 Dawgs dropped all the way to .500 after even Green's return from suspension couldn't save them from falling to hopeless Colorado.
Green will be fondly remembered by Bulldog fans for his jaw-dropping talent, incredible catches, and even his blocked field goal to save a game against Arizona State in 2009. But assuming the Liberty is in fact his last performance for Georgia -- and there's no reaso nto think it won't be -- he'll also be remembered with the tinge of disappointment that the Bulldogs couldn't accomplish more with him around.