ATHENS - One of Georgia's top defensive players will not be available for the Belk Bowl.
Outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, who led the team in sacks during the regular season, had shoulder surgery on Tuesday and will not play in the bowl.
Floyd recently decided to return for his junior season rather than turn pro. Head coach Mark Richt said the decision was made to get Floyd ready for next season.
"We want to give him the maximum amount of time to be prepared for his senior year," Richt said.
Floyd will actually be a junior next year, but it would be a surprise for him to use both of his final years of eligibility.
Freshman Lorenzo Carter and redshirt freshman Davin Bellamy will be candidates to move into Floyd's starting spot.
Richt announced last Saturday at the team's gala that Floyd and three other underclassmen had decided to return. That also included receiver Malcolm Mitchell, tackle John Theus and outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins - the latter of whom Richt said was "most likely" returning.
Speaking four days later, Richt said his understanding is the same.
“Obviously things can always change," Richt said, adding: "I wouldn’t have made that statement if I didn’t have permission to make that statement. Yeah, they're excited about coming back.”
Junior college recruit signs
Linebacker Chuks Amaechi, a sophomore at Arizona Western junior college, signed with UGA on Wednesday. He plans to enroll for the spring semester.
Junior college players are allowed to sign beginning this week, before national signing day on Feb. 4.
Four high school seniors have signed financial aid agreements with Georgia, indicating they plan to enroll early.
It could be a blue Christmas for the Bulldogs. They're reporting to Charlotte on Christmas Eve, then practicing the next day.
Richt wasn't crazy about doing it that way, but felt the schedule boxed him in: Georgia couldn't start practicing again until Wednesday because of finals, and the game is on Dec. 30.
“You hate to not be home for Christmas. You hate for our players not to be home for Christmas," Richt said. "But the date of the bowl I don’t think we could have had a choice. I don’t think we could have reported there the day after Christmas and be as prepared as we need to be.”
Required Star Wars question
Senor receiver Chris Conley, who made his own Star Wars-inspired short movie last summer, said he's watched the trailer for the new Star Wars movie four times. It's due out about a year from now.
“It was definitely J.J. Abrams-esque," Conley said of the trailer. "You could see his classic lens flairs, and his camera angles when they’re in the hangar, and the storm troopers are standing there. You could tell it’s J.J. Abrams. It looks good. So I think the film will be a little bit of a new take on Star Wars but it’ll have some things that are thrown in there for the nostalgic fans.”