Max Jean-Gilles sticks around for final season

ATHENS - The NFL didn't tell Max Jean-Gilles what he wanted to hear, so he said Friday what every Georgia fan had hoped to hear:

"I'm coming back to Georgia. It's a done deal. I'm a Bulldog."

As late as Wednesday, the junior guard was leaning toward leaving early to enter the NFL Draft, he said. However, when he got word back from the NFL's underclassman advisory committee on his status, it said he could slip to as late as the third round.

"They projected me going to third round, and that wasn't what I wanted," he said. "I'm going to come back and finish my business, (and) hopefully go for the Outland Trophy and the SEC Championship."

Max Jean-Gilles called Coach Mark Richt on Friday to tell him the news. It was the first piece of good news Richt had heard concerning his team in a week that saw safety Thomas Davis and linebacker Odell Thurman decide to turn pro.

"He loved it," Jean-Gilles said.

Jean-Gilles recorded 26 "dominator" blocks this season and was named first-team All-SEC by the league's coaches. His return means the Bulldogs essentially will have four returning starters at guard entering next season. He and Nick Jones started every game this year, and Josh Brock and Bartley Miller, the starters from 2003, are expected to come back after missing 2004 due to injury.

"I've always loved the Georgia fans and the whole Georgia nation," Jean-Gilles said. "I just felt coming back will be better for me and the whole team."

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