Georgia football opt-outs make it official, post farewell graphics

Georgia fans will miss Eric Stokes (27) and Monty Rice (32), who have made their bowl opt-outs official.

ATHENS — Former Georgia football team captains Monty Rice, Ben Cleveland and Eric Stokes have made it official, they are forgoing the Peach Bowl experience to focus on preparing for the 2021 NFL Draft.

Georgia defensive back DJ Daniel also made it official as he announced he would be opting out on Wednesday.

Smart indicated at the time it was the nature of the beast.

“The NFL environment we have, if we continue to recruit at a high level, which we’ve done, this is probably going to be an annual deal where guys decide that I’m not going to play in the game based on certain reasons or whatever they choose,” Smart said last year. “And that’s the choice they have. I respect that.”

Smart, understandably, explained this year that he wanted the focus to be on the players who are participating in the game, and he is proud of them for doing so.

Outside linebacker Azeez Ojuarli, projected as a first-round 2021 NFL Draft pick by some, has elected to play in the Peach Bowl after several reports that he was opting out.

Senior Richard LeCounte continues to practice in an effort to overcome the injuries he sustained in a Halloween Night dirt bike crash on Macon Highway, and senior defensive end Malik Herring is playing in the Peach Bowl even with a Senior Bowl invite in hand.

Rice, Cleveland, McKitty, LeCounte, Herring, Daniel, and defensive back Mark Webb all have been invited to the Jan. 30 game in Mobile, Ala., which features a week of practices scouted heavily by all of the NFL coaching staffs and general managers.

It’s a record number of Georgia players at the Senior Bowl as things stand, more evidence of the talent Smart is recruiting and developing for the NFL level.

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