ATHENS – When someone motioned to Davin Bellamy, telling him it was his turn to speak, the big linebacker went to the microphone and smiled.
“How’s everyone doing?” Bellamy said.
Someone said “fine,” but most were silent.
“Tough crowd,” Bellamy said.
That brought a laugh from media members, who on Thursday were still collecting themselves at the surprise announcement that four Georgia players, including Bellamy, were returning for their senior years.
Bellamy was not the biggest name – that would be Nick Chubb, followed closely by Sony Michel, and then Lorenzo Carter – but the outside linebacker from Chamblee may offer the biggest personality. And as a fourth-year junior who will turn 22 later this month, he was also someone likely to think long and hard about making the leap.
In fact, Bellamy said he was “wavering back and forth” for awhile.
“Once all the smoke cleared, you really have time to cut your phone off and focus on the decision you have to make,” Bellamy said. “You realize that the NFL is going to be there, but these are the times that you never forget.”
It may have been former teammates who pushed Bellamy into the decision to stay. Last month before the Louisiana-Lafayette game, Jordan Jenkins and Toby Johnson – now both in the NFL – came to the team hotel, and Bellamy discussed it with both.
“They were telling me there’s no rush,” Bellamy said. “Toby told me, ‘Bell, you can play in this league. You can go back to school.’ That’s kind of what it was.”
Bellamy’s draft position was also far from a sure thing. He did get a draft grade from the NFL advisory board, but said he would keep that private. Just going by his stats – four sacks, eight tackles-for-loss and 49 tackles this season – he was probably a mid-round pick at best. That would improve with a good senior year.
Bellamy pointed out Thursday that not playing in last year’s bowl game and some of spring practice – he was injured – may have set him back. This was his first year as a starter.
“It kind of took me a while to get it going. I think I did a lot of growing this season, especially toward the second half of the season. The first half of the season I was still a little rusty,” Bellamy said. “I just can’t wait to come back for another one with a long ride with these boys.”
And like the other three players, Bellamy also said his decision was impacted by how this season went, and how it ended.
“Seven-and-five is not how I want to finish,” Bellamy said. “That’s not Georgia football to me. I know, speaking for these other guys also, that’s one of the main reasons we wanted to come back. You can’t leave with a bad taste in your mouth like that.”