ATHENS -- Chris Conley, Georgia’s leading receiver this season, has been playing through a shoulder injury all season. It hasn’t been bad enough to keep him out of games, but he has received treatment on it after lots of practices and every game.
But Conley said he didn’t consider getting surgery this month and skipping the Belk Bowl. It’s a possibility after Dec. 30; Conley said he and his parents and head athletic trainer Ron Courson are still thinking over the next step.
“If I could, I’d like to stay away from (surgery),” Conley said. “It’s really just going to come down to being smart as I practice this bowl season and realizing that my allegiances still lie here, at Georgia, and until that last game is over, they do. So I have to do everything in my power to help this team win and stay safe while doing it.”
Teammate Leonard Floyd elected to have shoulder surgery this week, which will put him out for the bowl and possibly out of spring practice. The outside linebacker was contemplating turning pro but elected against it and decided to get a head start on rehab by missing the bowl.
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Conley, a senior, is in a different position because he’s hoping to be drafted in May. He said the recovery time after shoulder surgery would be about five months, which would likely knock him out of most pre-draft workouts. So he’s hoping to avoid surgery altogether or put it off.
“At least delay it, until I have a little more of an idea of where I’m gonna be and what I’m going to be doing,” Conley said.
HOUSTON’S BACKUP PLAN
Offensive lineman Kolton Houston, granted a sixth year of eligibility last week by the NCAA, wasn’t going to try the NFL next year if he didn’t get the extra year.
“I was gonna try the corporate world,” Houston said. “Football’s been good to me, and I didn’t think I was ready to take that next step into the next league, so I was ready to go into the corporate world. And I’m glad I can come back here and play football for one more year.”
But Houston, who has started 18 games the past two seasons, said he may try the NFL after the 2015 season.
“If I get a little better, and it’s there, and it’s a valid option, I definitely will,” Houston said. “So we’ll see how it goes.”
Meanwhile, offensive tackle John Theus confirmed the announcement made five nights before by head coach Mark Richt. Theus (among others) is returning for his senior year.
“I made that decision a long time ago,” Theus said. “Coach Richt asked if he could make the announcement, and I didn’t think it was much of an announcement, but I told him he could do it.”
MITCHELL ON GRANTHAM
It has been hard to get Georgia defensive players to say anything much about playing against Todd Grantham, their former defensive coordinator now at Louisville. But receiver Malcolm Mitchell -- who briefly played defense for Grantham -- brought it up himself Thursday, when talking about the motivation for the Belk Bowl.
“It’s a chance for us to beat Coach Grantham,” Mitchell said. “I know when he was here I teased him in practice, so it’ll be interesting to play against him.”
What did he tease him about?
“Just making plays on his defense,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell played cornerback the first four games of the 2012 season, when attrition and suspensions made it a necessity. He moved back to receiver after that, much to the annoyance of Grantham, who felt Mitchell was a potential first-round pick as a cornerback.