NEW ORLEANS — Immediately after Georgia lost to Michigan State in the 2012 Outback Bowl, linebacker Alec Ogletree announced that he was turning pro after that, his junior season. There were no such announcements following the Bulldogs’ 28-21 loss to Texas on Tuesday night in the Sugar Bowl.
Isaac Nauta, Riley Ridley and Elijah Holyfield all brushed off the question in the postgame locker room at Superdome. But not in a rude way. To a man, they were still dealing with the hurt of humiliating defeat on a national stage.
“Over the next couple of days, I’ll figure it out,” said junior tight end Isaac Nauta, his eyes red with disappointment. “It’s emotional. You put a lot of time and effort and emotion into it and, you know, you look around the room at all the guys and the seniors and it’s not easy losing like that.”
“I don’t know what it was but they were doing all the right stuff. They were sending some exotic blitzes and shutting us down. But a lot of credit to them for that.”
Nauta had only one catch for three yards in Tuesday’s game. Fellow junior Charlie Woerner let the tight ends with two catches for 27 yards.
Ridley, Georgia’s leading receiver this season, was also the leading pass-catcher in the Sugar Bowl. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound wideout from Coconut Creek, Fla., had five catches for 61 yards.
Ridley also was downtrodden as he sat in front of his locker with a pair of support staffers sitting next to him, one on either side.
“Believe it or not, I’ll just be trying to get over this loss,” said Ridley, asked what he’ll do between now and the Jan. 14 NFL underclassman declaration deadline. “That’s what I’ll be doing the next 14 days.”
Ridley paced the Bulldogs with 44 catches for 570 yards and 9 TDs this season. He now has 1,026 yards and 13 touchdowns in his career.
With an 11-yard gain on the first play of the second half, Holyfield became the 15th Georgia player to have a 1,000-yard rushing season. The junior from Atlanta finished the game with 62 yards and the season with 1,018 total. He joins sophomore D’Andre Swift, who finished the season with 1,049 yards. It marks the second straight year that Georgia has had a pair of 1,000-yard rushers after Nick Chubb (1,345 yards) & Sony Michel (1,227 yards) did it a year ago.
Holyfield only laughed and winked when a reporter asked him if he’d see him during Georgia’s spring practices. Otherwise, he declined to answer the pro question beyond saying he’ll address it in the “next couple days.”
Likewise, receiver Mecole Hardman and safety J.R. Reed said they’d need some time to think about it.
“I have a couple of weeks, got the whole family thing and a week off to heal up,” said Reed, whose father. Jake, played 12 seasons in the NFL. “I need to get over the game, watch it a little bit and analyze where things went bad and what I messed up on and can work on and move forward.”