Jones officially declares for NFL draft

semerson@macon.comJanuary 4, 2013 

ATHENS -- The short but spectacular Georgia career of Jarvis Jones has officially ended.

The linebacker from Columbus made official what was long assumed: He is turning pro.

Jones, predicted by many analysts to be a very high pick in this April’s NFL draft, announced Friday that he was bypassing his senior year.

Jones called it a “difficult decision,” although the team had been planning for his departure since before the season.

“I will always appreciate the chance Georgia gave me after my injury at Southern Cal,” Jones said in a statement released by UGA. “There is nothing like the Bulldog fans, and I will forever be proud to wear the ‘G.’ I think this decision comes at the right time for me and my family, and I look forward to seeing what the next level holds for me. Go Dogs!”

Jones was a two-time first-team All-American for Georgia, and he now holds the school record for sacks in a season. He set the record in the Capital One Bowl, passing David Pollack, who saw it happen in person while calling the game for ABC.

Jones finishes his Georgia career with 28 sacks, tied for third in school history -- despite playing only two seasons. He also had 44 tackles for loss of 235 yards, 155 total tackles, nine forced fumbles and an interception during his time as a Bulldogs player.

“He’s a top pass rusher,” ESPN analyst Mel Kiper said of Jones in December. “If the medical stuff checks out fine, he’s a top-five pick, maybe the No. 1 pick overall.”

Last week, Jones said that if he declared he wanted to be the overall No. 1 pick.

“I’m not gonna train to be in the top 10 or the top five. I’m gonna train to be the No. 1 draft pick,” Jones said.

Jones joins fellow linebacker Alec Ogletree in declaring for the draft soon after the end of the season. Ogletree declared for the draft after Tuesday’s win over Nebraska.

Georgia coaches have also been planning for his departure. Jones has been telegraphing the decision for months, saying he loved being at Georgia, but adding that he wants to provide for his family.

“I’ve got a family that I want to support, and a mother I just want to give reward to. My nieces and nephews. And the people back in Columbus that support me the most,” Jones said in early December. “It’s all about just experiencing new things and growing in life. And that’s how you’ve got to look at it. I’m sure if I stayed things would be great. If I leave, things will be great.”

The team is still awaiting the decision of quarterback Aaron Murray and nose tackle Kwame Geathers. Both players, like Jones, are fourth-year juniors.

Murray said during ESPN’s pregame show Thursday night that he received a draft grade of “second or third round” from the NFL draft advisory committee. Geathers was given a similar projection by Kiper in December.

The deadline to declare for the draft is Jan. 15.

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