<
>

Alec Ogletree to enter NFL draft

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Unlike teammates Jarvis Jones and Aaron Murray, Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree didn't need any extra time to make his decision about his football future.

Immediately after the Bulldogs beat Nebraska, 45-31, in Tuesday's Capital One Bowl, Ogletree announced he will enter the 2013 NFL draft.

"It was tough for me to make the decision to actually come out, but over the break, I met with my family and met with some of the coaches and just talked to the people I needed to talk to to make the decision," the junior linebacker said. "I felt like it was the right decision for me to do."

ESPN draft analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay both rate Ogletree as a top-20 NFL prospect. In recently rating Ogletree as the top junior inside linebacker in the nation, Kiper wrote, "He could be a top-10 pick, and I think teams could move him all over."

It is his versatility as a linebacker who can tackle and play pass coverage that Ogletree believes will help him transition to the NFL. Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham -- who also held that position in the NFL -- agrees.

"A guy like him is going to be valued, because in that league, you've got to help your corners outside with the kind of wideouts that people have," Grantham said. "So if you help your corners outside, somebody's got to play one-on-one. You can't double everybody. And a guy like him can play some tight underneath coverage and take away the (Tony) Gonzalez, the (Kellen) Winslows -- those premier-type tight ends on the possession routes inside.

"He's got the ability to run things down and hit. He's physical. He's going to get bigger. He's a young player. He's a true junior, so the arrow is up on him and I think he's a real dynamic player."

After totaling a team-high 13 tackles, three tackles for a loss, a sack and forcing a fumble that he also recovered against Nebraska, Ogletree finished the season with 111 tackles and 11.5 tackles for a loss in just 10 games. He had double-digit tackles in eight games this season after missing the first four games for failing a drug test.

Grantham sees a bright professional future for Ogletree, who played safety as a freshman before shifting to linebacker last season.

"I think he's a special player there and that's one of the reasons we wanted to put him there, and I think his future's really bright because he's a young player at that position," Grantham said. "I wish him nothing but the best and know that he's a guy that can continue to improve and be a pretty dynamic player."

Ogletree never played a full season in his three years at Georgia. He missed the aforementioned four games this season while suspended, six games in 2011 after breaking his foot in the opener against Boise State, and he was suspended for the 2010 season opener.

Ogletree said the absences made his college career seem incomplete in some ways, but he still felt comfortable with what he will take away from his Georgia experience.

"I feel like I had a good career here although I feel like I didn't have the career that I wanted personally," Ogletree said. "But at the same time, the time that I had here on the field, it's wonderful. I met a lot of people here and made a lot of great friends for the rest of my life, so I feel real good about it."

Murray, who was named Capital One Bowl MVP after passing for 427 yards and five touchdowns, and Jones, who set new Georgia single-season records for sacks (14.5) and tackles for a loss (24.5), have not announced whether they plan to return for their senior seasons.

The deadline for underclassmen to apply for early entry to the NFL draft is Jan. 15.