McMichael, Grant leaving Georgia for NFL draft

As expected, tight end <b>Randy McMichael</b> will join defensive end <b>Charles Grant</b> as Georgia juniors leaving school early to enter the NFL draft.

McMichael (6-4, 228) lacks ideal size for NFL tight ends but is an excellent receiver and was a first-team All-Southeastern Conference pick by The Associated Press and the SEC coaches.

A former standout at Peach County High School, McMichael caught 24 passes for 281 yards in the 2001 season, ending his career with 90 receptions, including five for touchdowns.

McMichael is rated by Mel Kiper, Jr., as the fifth-best tight end among juniors. He said he was advised he might be selected in the second round of April's NFL draft. He could easily drop to the middle rounds, however, as Kiper noted McMichael may be seen as more of an H-back than a pure tight end.

McMichael, who has a 4-year-old daughter, told The Atlanta Constitution his decision to leave Georgia now was based upon a fear that an injury could drop him lower in the draft after his senior season.

Meanwhile, Grant leaves after leading Georgia with six quarterback sacks and 12 tackles for losses. One of the state's most highly recruited players out of Miller County High School, Grant (6-4, 267) may be seen as a player able to make an immediate impact on an NFL squad.

Grant recorded 15 sacks in his career and showed the ability to step up in big games. In this season's game against Auburn, he recorded four sacks and 13 total stops.

Kiper rates Grant as the fourth-best defensive linemen among juniors.

Defensive ends — especially those with a demonstrated talent for rushing the quarterback — often rise on draft day.

Grant and McMichael will join safety Jermaine Phillips, running back Verron Haynes, cornerback Tim Wansley and linebackers Will Witherspoon and Adrian Hollingshed as Georgia's most highly regarded prospects in the draft.

Last year, Georgia had two players — defensive tackles Marcus Stroud and Richard Seymour — taken in the first round and six players drafted in the first four rounds. Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Kendrell Bell, a second-round pick, is a top candidate for NFL Rookie of the Year honors.

Charles Odum can be reached at CEOdum@aol.com.


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