ATHENS – Saturday’s game against Georgia Tech may – or may not – have been the last at Sanford Stadium for four of the Bulldogs’ key underclassmen leaders.
Tailbacks Nick Chubb and Sony Michel and outside linebackers Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy will all give the NFL a hard look between now and the underclassman declaration date in mid-January. As one might imagine, none of them were too keen on talking about it in the immediate aftermath of Saturday’s devastating 28-27 loss to Georgia Tech. But they were all asked about it.
“My next step is to focus on the next game,” said Michel, who led the Bulldogs with 170 yards rushing Saturday. “We have to see which bowl game we’re going to end up in and kind of get the guys prepared and ready to play the next game.”
Michel’s answer was typical of the other three as well. But it’s not truthful to say that all they will be thinking about between now and the bowl game is their next opponent. In reality, that’s exactly the time they will be needing to gather as much information as they possibility can about how they’re viewed by the NFL.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart was not asked about it Saturday. But he said last week the Bulldogs would be doing all they can to assist the eligible underclassmen with their decisions. The NFL will provide official evaluations for any underclassmen who request them.
There were numerous scouts in the press box watching Saturday’s game between Tech and Georgia. The Bulldogs have only 19 seniors moving on after this season. Of those, only linemen Tyler Catalina and Greg Pyke are expected to get an extensive look. Scouts themselves are unable to comment on underclassmen.
But Chubb and Michel, who combined 258 yards rushing Saturday, are expected to get a hard look. And Bellamy and Carter both have NFL bodies at a position of great demand.
Here’s a quick look:
Nick Chubb, 5-11, 228, Jr.: Coming off a major left knee reconstruction in October of 2015, Chubb nonetheless has been able to come back and lead the Bulldogs in rushing with 988 yards and 7 TDs. He moved past Garrison Hearst and third on Georgia’s all-time rushing list with 3,282 yards and remains just four yards from passing Todd Gurley and taking over at second place.
- Chubb’s thoughts: “I’m not really thinking about that at all. Obviously, I’m going to take it day-by-day.”
Sony Michel, 5-11, 222, Jr.: Michel’s 170 yards rushing was his career-best for a single game. He now has 2,324 yards for his career, which is 10th in school history.
- On whether it was his last game at Sanford: “Any game at Sanford Stadium you lose. It’s our home; it’s our territory. So it hurts when we lose at home.”
Davin Bellamy, 6-5, 240, Jr.: Bellamy was credited with a half-sack Saturday and was second on the team with 8 tackles. That gives him 4 sacks and 49 tackles on the season and seven sacks and 99 tackles for his career.
- Bellamy’s thoughts: “Talking about that would be selfish. I’ve still got a job to do and I’m not thinking about it right now.”
Lorenzo Carter, 6-6, 242, Jr.: Carter also had eight tackles Saturday and added one 2-yard tackle for loss. That gives him 29 tackles this season and he’s tied with Bellamy for the team lead with 4 sacks.
- Carter’s thoughts: “We’re a young team and we’re going to keep grinding and working. I’m just excited to see where we go. … (It might be) a little bit (of motivation) to stay. I want to see them grow. We’ve grown a lot as a team, whether everybody can see it a lot. We’ve grown a lot and we’re a family and this loss is not going to separate us.”