ATHENS -- Georgia is losing a third member of its defense to the NFL draft, and it will have a big impact on next seasons team.
Nose tackle Kwame Geathers has decided to bypass his senior season, a decision he relayed to Georgia coaches Wednesday.
I felt like I was ready to go, Geathers told Dawgs247.com. I think I did everything at Georgia that I wanted to do. I felt like it was time to get a jump on the next step in my career.
The news was not unexpected, as Geathers family has a history of leaving early. His older brothers Robert and Clifton left Georgia and South Carolina, respectively, a year early. Robert Geathers is a starting defensive end for the Cincinnati Bengals.
That means Georgia will return just four starters from its defense: defensive end Garrison Smith, outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins, inside linebacker Amarlo Herrera and cornerback Damian Swann.
Juniors Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree also have declared for the draft, but their decisions were expected. Jones is considered one of the top players in the country, and Ogletree is a likely first-round pick.
Geathers, on the other hand, told Dawgs247.com he received a draft grade of third to sixth round from the NFL draft advisory committee.
But Geathers, listed at 6-foot-6 and 350 pounds, is a fourth-year junior who last month joked that he already had broke the trend among his family members by sticking around for four years.
Geathers finished the season with 40 tackles, including five for loss, and one sack. He started most of the season at nose tackle, with John Jenkins moving to defensive end in the teams base alignment.
Now with Geathers going pro and John Jenkins eligibility up, Georgia has to find a new nose tackle. Mike Thornton, who will be a redshirt junior, and John Taylor, who will be a redshirt freshman, are the top players on the current roster. Chris Mayes, who has enrolled early, is also a candidate. The team is also making a strong run at Dooly County prospect Montravius Adams and junior college prospect Toby Johnson.
Chris Wilson, formerly the defensive coordinator at Mississippi State, officially has been hired as the new defensive line coach for the Georgia football team.
Wilsons imminent hiring was widely reported during the weekend, but the school had to wait for the coaching opening to be posted a certain amount of time. His replacement at Mississippi State was announced earlier Wednesday: David Turner, who was also a finalist for the job Wilson got at Georgia.
Wilsons title is defensive line coach. Rodney Garner, who left for Auburn on Dec. 20, carried the title of assistant head coach in addition to defensive line coach.
Chris is a tremendous teacher, outstanding recruiter, mentor and brings a wealth of knowledge in coaching the defensive line to our program, Georgia head coach Mark Richt said in a statement. He has an extensive background not only as a position coach but also as a coordinator and is a very solid fit with what we do on defense. Just as important, Chris is a great role model as a father and husband. He and his wife, Tina, are awesome people and along with their children, Colby and Caleb, will be outstanding additions to our football family.
Our family is excited to have the opportunity of coaching at one of the top institutions in college football, Wilson said in a statement. Im looking forward to being part of the Georgia program and putting all our energy and effort into winning games and championships which I know is the goal of all those in the Georgia football family.