MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Georgia junior safety Dominick Sanders, mulling an early jump to the NFL, said he will make a decision on his future after the Liberty Bowl.
Sanders said he did receive a grade from the NFL advisory board, but declined to talk about it, preferring to focus on “punishing TCU.”
But it is obviously a decision on Sanders’ mind, and one he discussed over the holidays with his family.
“The main thing was family. I just wanted to hear from my family,” Sanders said on Tuesday. “The main thing is my mom and my dad, I’m really close to my mom and my dad, and I had to tell them that this is going to be my decision, and I have to live with it. But right now I’m just happy to have this little off break with (my teammates), and I told them I’d get back to them about it after the game.”
Last week, head coach Kirby Smart acknowledged that both Sanders and junior defensive back Aaron Davis (who has graduated) are mulling whether to return. Sanders declined to address his future when asked about it in November.
Georgia outside linebackers Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy have already announced their return for their senior seasons. Sanders said he supported it, but his decision is his own.
“Those are my guys, Davin and Lorenzo, it’s good that the team will have them back,” Sanders said. “And the main thing is those guys made up their mind early. I congratulated them when they did. I told them: I support your decision. We’re young guys and we’ve got to make decisions on our own right now. It came about with me, and I told them we’re just going to focus on this bowl game. And I have to get back to that after the game.”
Bellamy, who is close to Sanders, said he wasn’t putting any pressure on his friend and teammate.
“I’ve been knowing him since he was young. Of course I want one year with him,” Bellamy said. “But I feel like that’s a personal decision. No one knows what factors into that decision, so you can never force anybody into a decision. I’m behind him every step of the way.”
On paper, Sanders didn’t have as strong a junior season as when he was first-team All-SEC in 2015. Sanders, who didn’t make any All-SEC teams this year, had less tackles (48 to 31), tackles-for-loss (5 to 1) and interceptions (6 to 3), while the pass defense also yielded more yards overall (ranking 18th nationally compared to first after last season.)
But Sanders remains a key member of the secondary, starting 37 games over the past three season. He ranks fourth all-time in Georgia history with 12 interceptions, with Jake Scott and Bacarri Rambo’s record of 16 well in reach if Sanders returns in 2017.
“I would love to have him on my team again for one more year,” Bellamy said. “And if Dom decides to leave then I’ll be rooting him on. From Georgia.”