Ellerbee nearly wound up in Knoxville

ATHENS – Jamar Bryant never played a down of football for Georgia, but his run-in with the program still is paying dividends for the Bulldogs, particularly this week.

Dannell Ellerbe was a classmate and close friend of Bryant at Richmond County High School in Hamlet, N.C., and Ellerbe would be playing for Tennessee on Saturday if the Volunteers had offered Bryant a scholarship, he said this week.

"I was really set on going there," Ellerbe said, "but me and (Bryant) decided to come here as a package deal. Tennessee was just recruiting me."

Georgia fans would hate to think where the No. 12 Bulldogs' defense would be without Ellerbe, the team's leading tackler (35). He is second on the team with five tackles-for-loss.

"Tennessee was recruiting me before Georgia," he said. "I liked the coaches, and I liked the facilities."

Ellerbe and Bryant signed with the Bulldogs in 2004, but Bryant failed to qualify academically and went to Hargrave Military Academy. Bryant ended up at East Carolina, where he is a sophomore wide receiver who has caught 11 passes for 108 yards this season.

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