Everyone Back for National Title Run

ATHENS – Three of Georgia's underclassmen – fullback Brannan Southerland, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and defensive tackle Jeff Owens – asked the NFL to advise them on their potential status in this year's draft.

The deadline for underclassmen to make a final decision is Tuesday, and none of those three are expected to leave, head coach Mark Richt said. The Bulldogs already have had their first official meeting of the 2008 season, Richt said.

The first order of business in that meeting is to change the seating chart in the team meeting room. Every class moves up, with the seniors taking their traditional spot at the front of the room. Southerland, Ellerbe and Owens, along with the rest of their teammates looked very comfortable there, Richt said.

"I think they enjoyed sitting in the front," he said. "It wasn't that long ago when they were sitting in the back of the room. It kind of is a realization that they're in that leadership role now."

Left unsaid by Richt, but not by many others, is: Why would anyone want to leave at this point? Georgia returns 17 starters from the team that just won seven straight to finish 11-2.

Already, the Bulldogs are the hot team of 2008. ESPN.com and The Mercury News of San Jose, Calif., already have proclaimed Georgia the preseason No. 1, although both outlets admitted their definition of the preseason was so broad as to be a bit ridiculous.

Las Vegas, often as good a prognosticator as any, is on the Bulldogs' bandwagon to some degree. Internet gambling site Bodog has Georgia facing just 6-to-1 odds to win the next BCS crown. Southern Cal is the national favorite at 3-to-1, with Florida and Ohio State joining the Bulldogs in the next group.

(The other SEC schools to make the list were Alabama at 50-to-1, Arkansas at 100-to-1, Auburn at 25-to-1, Kentucky at 80-to-1, LSU at 10-to-1, South Carolina at 50-to-1 and Tennessee at 30-to-1.)

Their position in the lead pack is no surprise to the Bulldogs. "We've got a young guys coming back who have a lot of experience," freshman linebacker Rennie Curran said.

Even the coaches are not shying away from the expectations, a sure sign of what they believe the 2008 team could accomplish.

"The ultimate goal is to win them all," offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. "That's going to be our goal. I think our guys are going to have the confidence. We'll probably be ranked pretty high next year, but it all come down to how we come together as a team, how hard we work in the offseason, and if we're going to commit ourselves to being ready. If we show up in February and think what we did this year is going to help us win a national championship, we have another think coming."

Georgia should be proud to have put itself in this position, Bobo said.

"You want to be at a program that has high expectations, a program that thinks you should be considered to win the SEC championship every year," he said. "You're not going to do it every single year, but we've done a pretty good job of staying in the race every single year, putting ourselves in this position."

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