UGA players who may be leaving for the 2019 season
Isaac Nauta stood at his locker in the last minute of media availability and smiled.
He knew what question was coming. It was one that he had been peppered with for the last 20 minutes.
“Have you made a decision on declaring for the NFL draft?”
Nauta: “I’ll decide in the next couple of days and allow myself to decompress a little bit.”
Nauta, who recorded one reception for three yards, could’ve been packing up his Georgia locker for the last time. He is one of many who could, too, both as a junior declaring and as a transfer candidate.
The decision for draft-eligible juniors is inevitable, as Nauta joins Mecole Hardman, Riley Ridley, J.R. Reed, Elijah Holyfield and others in a group to face that decision.
A decision for players across the country must be made by Jan. 14.
Reed: “I have not made a decision yet. I have to sit down and talk with my family.”
Holyfield: “No decision yet. I’ll sit down with my parents, coach (Kirby) Smart and survey my options.”
Ridley, brother of Atlanta Falcons’ rookie Calvin Ridley, said he hasn’t spoken to his family either. He received a draft grade, he said, but chose not to look at it as his focus was preparation for Texas.
Then, he was asked directly: “Was this your last game at Georgia?”
“Nah, it’s not,” Ridley said, then pausing and changing his course. “I’ll probably take a look at my grade and everything before making my decision.”
Last season, due to Georgia’s run to the National Championship, decisions were made up to the day of the deadline to declare.
The sudden surge of transfer possibilities, however, is where it becomes unusual for Georgia. Maybe it’s something that comes with landing a No. 1 recruiting class in 2018, but there are a number of players who could depart from the program.
Justin Fields, who didn’t play in the Sugar Bowl after coaches said the game plan at quarterback would remain the same, was not available in the open locker room period.
Other candidates include Nate McBride (who confirmed he was exploring, but is not in the transfer portal), Luke Ford (who is in the portal) and James Cook (who was on a scooter with a walking boot, but was later deemed unavailable to The Telegraph by a team representative).
Ford, who took a leave of absence from the team until Dec. 26 to remain with family in Carterville, Illinois, is considering a departure due to his ill grandfather. He indicated it’s a 50-50 decision between Georgia and Illinois.
“I could for sure see myself staying, I’ve talked to the coaches,” Ford said after Tuesday night’s game.
Georgia also has a candidate on the graduate transfer front: Brian Herrien. Herrien had a 17-yard touchdown against Texas after not seeing much playing time throughout the season.
Herrien signed as a member of the 2016 class.
“I’m comfortable wherever I’m at,” Herrien said. “I know what my abilities are and the talent I have. Wherever I go, I know I’m good.”