When Georgia football players heard a guest speaker address them Tuesday about Saturday’s game against Georgia Tech, the seniors were asked to rise.
A.J. Green’s teammates turned to the star junior receiver and told him he should join them.
"They were like, ‘A.J., why are you not standing up?’ " Green said. "They were like, ‘This is your last (home) game.’ "
Green says he hasn’t decided whether he is leaving after this season to enter the NFL draft, but his teammates aren’t alone in expecting Saturday’s game against Georgia Tech to be the last time between the hedges for a player projected as top-five NFL prospect.
Dora Green, A.J.’s mother, said she’s not thinking yet about whether it will be her son’s final game in Sanford Stadium, but the thought has crossed A.J.’s mind.
"There’s a possibility this could be my last game," he said.
In the last couple of weeks, Green has been asked often about his NFL plans.
"I’d love to come back," he said last week. "There are so many things we have to deal with if you come back, getting hurt and stuff like that. You have to put all that in perspective. You have to do what’s best for you."
Georgia has had at least two underclassmen enter the draft in three of the last four years, including linebacker Rennie Curran and safety Reshad Jones last January.
Green and outside linebacker Justin Houston are considered Georgia’s top draft prospects for 2011.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. lists the 6-foot-4, 212-pound Green as his No. 2 overall prospect.
"That’s always a dream," Green said of the NFL. "My dream is also to get a degree and play in the NFL at the same time."
Green, who leads Georgia with 41 catches for 674 yards and nine touchdowns despite serving a four-game NCAA suspension for selling his Independence Bowl jersey for $1,000, said he’s on track to graduate in December 2011.
"That’s going to be big," he said. ‘I want to get that because my family is really big on that, especially my mom. She really wants me to get that. Whatever she wants, hey, I’ve got to do what she wants to to make her happy. If she tells me to stay, I’m going to stay."
Asked if she wanted her son to stay to finish his degree, Dora Green said "we really haven’t discussed it yet."
She added: "We all will say what we have to say and whatever he decides, we are here to support him either way."
Green ranks second on the Bulldogs’ in career touchdown receptions with 23 and is third in receiving yards with 2,445. He doesn’t plan to ask for an evaluation from an NFL advisory committee.
"They can see what I can do on the field," he said.
While Green is widely projected to be an early first-round draft choice, Houston’s draft position isn’t as concrete.
The 6-3, 265-pound redshirt junior leads the Southeastern Conference with 10 sacks and is second with 17 1/2 tackles.
Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, an NFL coach for 11 seasons, said Houston has a future in the league. He plans to sit down with Houston as soon as next week to talk about his decision.
"He’s a good player," Grantham said. "He can obviously play outside linebacker in the National Football League. … I think what’s helped him when you look at guys for the 3-4 linebackers, it’s always, ‘Can he drop (in coverage)? How can he play in space?"
He added: "If you watch on tape, they can see him doing everything they need to see him do."
Houston is no longer listed on Kiper’s top 25 overall prospects and is not among the top five defensive line prospects of Todd McShay of Scouts Inc.
"I’ll make that decision at the last minute," Houston said Tuesday. "We’ve got Georgia Tech this week and that’s what I’m worried about now. After that, hopefully I’ll be worried about a bowl game."
Coach Mark Richt said he doesn’t assume highly-rated juniors will leave.
"We always try to go through the process of educating ourselves and them as to the pros and cons of that decision and try to get up with their families and talk a little bit about it and try to come to a decision that is in the best interest of their player," Richt said.
Among underclassmen, Kiper lists Houston as the No. 2 outside linebacker, Cordy Glenn as the top guard prospect and center Ben Jones as the No. 4 center. Brandon Boykin is rated as No. 11 overall cornerback by Scouts Inc.
Boykin said he doesn’t want to think about the NFL until the season is "completely over."
Glenn wouldn’t say if he’ll consider the draft because he’s focused on Georgia Tech.
Kiper has Kicker Blair Walsh as the No. 1 kicker and Drew Butler the No. 2 punter among underclassmen, but specialists are typically not taken in early rounds.
Playmakers on offense are.
Green isn’t rushing what he called the "big decision," that could be impacted by a possible NFL lockout.
"I’m just going to wait until after this game and possibly the bowl game," Green said.