Georgia has lost one All-American to the NFL, but is holding on to another for the 2012 season.
Junior tight end Orson Charles said Wednesday he is entering the NFL draft, but safety Bacarri Rambo said through the school that he will return for his senior season.
The Bulldogs also will get back safety and leading tackler Shawn Williams, who said he will return for his senior season.
Charles said his decision was relatively easy.
“To tell you the truth, it wasn’t really difficult at all,” Charles said. “The one reason why I felt like entering the draft was I felt like I met the majority of all my goals I came here with. I feel like I’ve grown spiritually….I just felt ready to enter the draft.”
Charles said last week that he was told by an NFL underclassman advisory committee that he received a projection that he could go as high as the second round in the draft.
Rambo said before the Outback Bowl that his grade came in as high as the third round.
Williams considered turning pro to help his family financially and to live his NFL dream, but said he wants to play another season for defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.
“I’ll be back to be an All-American,” said Williams, who led Georgia with 72 tackles and was second on the team with four interceptions. “I’m coming back.”
Williams said he heard about an Internet report on Wednesday that linked Grantham to the Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator opening, but Grantham released a statement through the school that was he’s “on track to finalizing details on a contract extension,” with Georgia as athletic director Greg McGarity has said.
Grantham mentioned in his statement “juniors that have communicated to me their desire to come back to Georgia,” as a reason he wanted to address rumors.
Williams said those juniors that are planning to return include outside linebacker Cornelius Washington and cornerback Branden Smith.
“Everybody will be back,” he said.
Charles, a 6-foot-3, 241-pound Tampa,Fla., product, had 94 catches for 1,370 yards and 10 touchdowns with the Bulldogs. That’s the most receiving yards ever for a Bulldogs tight end and tied for most career touchdowns.
NFLDraftScout.com projects he will go in the third round. It has him as the third tight end behind junior Dwayne Allen of Clemson and senior Coby Fleener of Stanford.
Rambo led the SEC with eight interceptions and had 55 tackles this past season.
He was a first-team All-American by the Associated Press.
Charles was a first-team All-SEC pick who was named All-American by the American Football Coaches Association.
Charles said he talked almost daily while making his decision with former NFL coach Tony Dungy, whose son was a high school teammate of Charles in Tampa.
He also sought guidance from his mother, Naseline Charles, a nursing administrative assistant/coordinator, his pastor and former Georgia atight ends Ben Watson and Randy McMichael, among other NFL players.
Quarterback Aaron Murray, his teammate in high school and in college, told him he was happy with him for his decision.
“The No. 1 thing he said is ‘Just don’t forget about me,” Charles said. “’Send me a shirt or something.’”
Charles said he has not signed with an agent yet, but he plans to select one in the coming days. The deadline for juniors to declare for the draft is Sunday.
Charles had 45 catches for 574 yards and five touchdowns this past season when he was also named a finalist for the Mackey Award for nation’s top tight end. He had one catch for two yards in the Outback Bowl loss to Michigan State, but said he wanted to wait to didn’t want to make “an emotional decision,” after that showing.
He saidGeorgiacoaches prepared him to be ready for the next level.
“Just watching Sunday games every day, I put myself in that situation and I felt like I was ready,” Charles said. “There’s definitely a lot of things I need to work on as far as blocking and catching.”
The Bulldogs already lost senior Aron White, who shares the career touchdown record for tight ends with Charles and Leonard Pope.
The departure of Charles and White leaves the Bulldogs with rising redshirt junior Arthur Lynch and redshirt freshman Jay Rome to compete for the starting job at tight end this spring. Georgia also has a commitment at the position from Ty Smith from Colquitt County.
Lynch has two career catches, none this past season.
“They have a lot of people that can fill the hole,” Charles said. “We’re called Tight End U for a reason.”
Charles spoke with Lynch briefly Tuesday night after making his decision.
“He’s fired up,” Charles said. “He’s ready.”
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