No NFL talk from Jean-Gilles, Thurman and Daivs

ATHENS -- Georgia coach Mark Richt predicted Friday afternoon that none of his elite juniors was ready to announce any future plans, and he was right.

Safety Thomas Davis, linebacker Odell Thurman and offensive lineman Max Jean-Gilles all sidestepped the question of the NFL Draft following Friday evenings practice. While more than one Georgia insider believes all three will skip their final season and turn pro early, it seems any formal announcements will wait until after the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl.

"I'm not going to announce that anyone is staying or going," Richt said. "I don't know if any of them are certain of that yet. If they're not going to stay, I don't think theyd want to say that before our game."

Davis and Jean-Gilles have sent paperwork to the NFL committee that projects the status of underclassmen but haven't heard back. Thurman has yet to fill out the paperwork.

Davis, a consensus All-American, leads the Bulldogs with 73 tackles despite missing one game due to an ankle injury. He also has one interception and one sack.

"I'm definitely going to have to make a decision after the bowl game, and I'm not going to think about it right now," he said. "It's easy to stay focused on Wisconsin."

Thurman, an all-SEC selection, rallied after missing the first three games due to suspension and finished the regular season with 59 tackles, including 9.5 for a loss.

"I'm keeping it on the back of my mind," he said, adding he "probably" won't make a decision before the bowl game. "It's probably 50/50 right now."

Jean-Gilles, another first-team all-SEC player, had 26 dominator blocks this season from his guard position. He would have to be projected as a first-round pick to leave early, he said.

"I'm still waiting until after the season to decide anything, he said. Another junior who has been rumored to be thinking about an early jump, safety Greg Blue, said hes definitely coming back. Hes on track to graduate and receive a fourth year of eligibility, he said.

STILL AROUND: Although plenty of collegiate jobs were open and scores of rumors were floating around in the last two weeks, Richt never received a call from a school interested in interviewing defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder, Richt said.

He doesn't expect that to last many more years, though.

"If the defense keeps playing the way it has been playing, then people will always be interested in talking to Brian," Richt said. "I know he's very happy here, but there are opportunities in life you have to look at. I understand that."

VanGorder won the Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant coach last season.

"He's way too good at what he does to not get a shot," said defensive end David Pollack. "He should get a shot, and I don't blame him for taking it."

VanGorder said he got two calls from teams recently but neither was a serious situation.

"I'm at one of the great places in the country," he said. "I work for a great boss. I'm lucky and blessed just to be in the position Im in. It's not going to be easy to give that up."

HEAD-TO-HEAD: It's probably too early to say Barry Alvarez has Richt's number, but Wisconsin's head coach is undefeated against Richt.

Alvarez, who is in his 15th season as the Badgers' head coach and is also the school's athletic director, coached the North team to a 35-31 victory over the South team in January's Gridiron Classic, a postseason all-star game.

"We had a pretty good lead on them, but they came back and beat us, Richt said before admitting, "It wasn't a crushing blow."

The Outback Bowl will be the first meeting of any consequence between the two coaches.

"He's no-nonsense about football and the business of coaching, but he's very personable when youre not competing against him," Richt said. "He's done an unbelievable job at Wisconsin compared to what they used to be."

ACADEMIC CASUALTIES: Richt didnt rule out the possibility that Georgia could lose some players for the bowl game due to academic ineligibility. Friday was the school's last day of finals, and Richt said he expects to know about all his players' grades by Monday.

NO NEWCOMERS: The Bulldogs arent expecting their team to expand any during the bowl practices. Last season, A.J. Bryant and Blake Barnes graduated high school early and tailback Danny Ware got out of prep school in time to practice with the team leading up to the Capital One Bowl, but there probably won't be any similar circumstances this year, Richt said.

"I guess there's an outside chance of a couple of prep school kids," he said.

The Bulldogs have verbal commitments from two prep school players - wide receiver Jamar Bryant and defensive end Brandon Lang of Hargrave Military Academy.

TAKING A WALK: Seven current and former scholarship players will participate in today's graduation ceremonies in Athens. Wide receiver Reggie Brown, quarterback David Greene, fullback Jeremy Thomas and defensive end Will Thompson, along with former players Ronnie Powell, Kevin Breedlove and Jonathan Kilgo will be recognized at Stegeman Coliseum this morning.

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