Houston to the NFL

ATHENS - OLB Justin Houston will play in the NFL next year, according to a Georgia spokesman.

Houston was the last Bulldog to declare his intention one way or another for the NFL Draft.

"I want to thank the University of Georgia and the coaches for giving me the chance to come to Georgia," Houston said in a statement. "Without Coach Mark Richt, I would not be where I am today. He has helped me grow from a boy to a grown man during my four years. It was a very hard decision to make but in the end, I had to do what's best for my family and me. Thanks to all of the fans who were behind us the whole time I was in Athens."

Brandon Byokin, Trinton Studrivant and Cordy Glenn all announced they were coming back earlier this month. A.J. Green declared for the NFL Draft a few days ago and is expected to be a top pick in April.

Houston had been quiet about the decision - even with teammates and coaches. Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said after the Liberty Bowl that he wasn't sure what Houston would do.

"I really don't know right now," Grantham said. "Even if I did I wouldn't tell you."

Players have said off the record they were not certain of his decision - one player said Houston has struggled with over the last month.

"It's crazy. I keep putting it off," Houston told the Macon Telegraph's Seth Emerson before the bowl game of his decision.

Houston is expected to go on the first day of the NFL Draft, but is more likely a second-round pick than a first. Still, his time in Grantham's 3-4 defense helped him progress up most mock drafts.

Houston is projected to be the highest Georgia defender drafted since Tim Jennings went 62nd overall in the 2006 NFL Draft.

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