"They were all chanting my name," Stafford said. "Stafford! Stafford! I was going, ‘Shhh.'"
Once he took his first snap, it all calmed down, he said. On his first drive, Georgia scored. On his second, he threw a 13-yard touchdown pass.
"Then the whirlwind started," Stafford said.
The SEC titles and national championships haven't been delivered, but the whirlwind might be coming to an end for Stafford and teammate Knowshon Moreno this Saturday when Georgia plays its final home game of the season. Both players could return next year, but both are projected as first-round picks if they were to leave school early and enter the NFL draft. While neither player has announced a firm decision, they have each taken a different approach to what could be their last hurrah in front of the home crowd.
"I wouldn't say it's a strange feeling," said Moreno, a third-year sophomore who became just the second player in team history with consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons this year. "It's going to be like I'm out there just playing any other game. You never know what's going to happen throughout the whole season, so I just play it out how it goes."
Moreno said he hadn't actually thought about the possibility of playing his final game at Sanford Stadium on Saturday until reporters mentioned it to him. Stafford, on the other hand, had given his potential farewell some thought.
"I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet, but if it is the last time, we'll hopefully leave it on top," he said. "It could be a lot more to come, but I'm not sure yet."
That decision isn't likely to come until after Georgia's bowl game, but head coach Mark Richt said he will talk with all his draft-eligible underclassmen during the coming weeks to ensure they are prepared to make an informed decision about their futures.
The case to leave, however, won't be a difficult one to make for either Moreno or Stafford.
Todd McShay is the director of college football scouting for ESPN's Scouts, Inc., and he said both players will be among the first taken at their positions in April's NFL draft should they decide to leave school early.
In Moreno's case, McShay said, heading to the NFL after just two years of action at the college level makes sense due to the heavy pounding running backs take throughout their careers. The window for big paydays at the professional level is far shorter for tailbacks than almost any other position, while the transition to the NFL tends to be easier than at most positions.
"If they think they're ready to make the jump, and they're convinced they're going to go in the first couple rounds from good sources (they should go)," McShay said. "I'm sure Knowshon will put him name in and get good feedback from the NFL advisory committee."
McShay said Moreno will almost certainly be a first-round selection in the draft and could be the top running back taken, depending on whether several other underclassmen choose to leave school.
"He's plenty tall enough, he's probably going to run in the 4.5 range, and his instincts, his competitiveness, everything you look for in terms of a running style, I think he has," McShay said. "I think he's going to be a very good back in the NFL."
While Moreno's transition to the NFL appears simpler, Stafford's stock among scouts could make him the top overall pick in the draft.
The junior from Texas has a strong arm that NFL general managers cherish, but McShay said Stafford still makes too many bad throws to be a lock for success at the next level.
The history of quarterbacks who have left school early for first-round status in the NFL draft is a dubious one. Ryan Leaf, Heath Shuler, Alex Smith and, most recently, JaMarcus Russell all jumped to the NFL after their junior seasons and struggled mightily.
"I think he has a lot more to learn on the college level, and the numbers are staggering in terms of guys that make it and are effective in the league who came back for their senior season," McShay said. "But how do you tell a guy to turn down tens of millions of dollars as a top-10 pick?"
That's the decision Stafford will have to deal with in the coming weeks, but his focus now remains squarely on Georgia Tech.
The Bulldogs have won seven straight games over their in-state rivals, and Stafford said the best way to appreciate what could be his final game at Georgia would be to go out a winner.
"I've got to concentrate on trying to win a ballgame, and that's the biggest thing for me right now. I'll take the rest of the decisions as they come."
Wide receiver Kris Durham is one of Stafford's closest friends on the team, but he said he hasn't spoken to either of his teammates about their potential draft status.
While he would certainly love to have Stafford and Moreno back at Sanford Stadium again next year, Durham said, the lure of the NFL is an awfully strong one.
"It's kind of a win-win for them," Durham said. "I mean, that's their childhood dream to go pro, but if they stay, it's another year in college. It's their decision, and whatever they decide, I'm happy for them."
Defensive tackle Jeff Owens has missed nearly the entire season and has applied for a medical redshirt that would allow him to return for a second senior season next year. Like Stafford and Moreno, however, he hasn't made any final decisions about his future. So when the Bulldogs' seniors are honored before the game Saturday, Owens said he plans to walk out onto the field with the rest of his recruiting class just in case he doesn't have the chance to celebrate senior day again next season.
Stafford and Moreno don't have that luxury, but the moment of reflection isn't much of a concern, Moreno said.
For the past two years, he has simply tried to live in the moment and appreciate every cheer he's earned from the crowd at Sanford Stadium, and that is exactly how he plans to celebrate what might be his final curtain call.
"This season has flown by so fast," Moreno said. "You've really just got to cherish each moment while you're here. I love the people here, love the game, and I'm just enjoying the season while it's here."