Georgia TE Charles to enter NFL draft
ATLANTA (AP) -- Saying he's accomplished all he wanted in his college career, Georgia tight end Orson Charles is headed to the NFL.
Charles announced Wednesday he'll give up his final season of eligibility with the Bulldogs, a decision he said wasn't all that difficult after he prayed on it and met with a host of advisors, including former NFL coach Tony Dungy.
"You know how you have a gut feeling when you pick a college?" Charles said during a conference call with the media. "I really couldn't go wrong either way."
The 6-foot-3, 241-pound Charles, who had 94 receptions for 1,370 yards and 10 touchdowns with the Bulldogs, has yet to hire an agent but said there's no chance of returning for his senior year. He finished with the most yards in school history for a tight end and tied Leonard Pope's mark for most touchdowns at that position.
"I felt like I was ready," Charles said. "There's definitely a lot of things I can work on as far as blocking, catching and running routes. But I feel like I can accomplish all that."
Charles made 45 catches this past season, tied for second on a Georgia team that went 10-4 and reached the Southeastern Conference championship game. He worked the last two seasons with quarterback Aaron Murray, his teammate at Plant High School in Tampa, Fla.
"To play with my high school quarterback was a blessing," Charles said. "How many people can say they did that?"
Murray, according to Charles, didn't make any attempt to lobby his friend to come back for another season, merely telling him to do whatever was the best decision for his future. After Charles made the announcement, the quarterback tweeted, "Congrats to my boy ... Can't wait to see my boy ball out in the NFL."
Charles wouldn't reveal where he ranked in the draft projections provided by the NFL scouting combine. Several Web sites project him as a second- or third-round pick with good potential because of his receiving skills.
"What (the NFL) gave me, I felt really confident about," Charles said. "That's another reason why I made this decision."
Charles is the first Georgia underclassman to enter the draft. Defensive star Jarvis Jones, who led the SEC with 13.5 sacks, would seem another leading candidate for the NFL but said repeatedly late in the season that he intended to return for another season with the Bulldogs. He has two years of eligibility remaining after transferring from USC.
Junior safety Baccari Rambo could also depart after a breakout season with eight interceptions.
The Bulldogs know they'll have to replace their top two tight ends. Second-stringer Aron White, who had only nine catches but four of them for touchdowns, is a senior.
Charles said Georgia should still be in good shape with Arthur Lynch moving up the depth chart and some likely additions on signing day. The Bulldogs are in the running for a couple of tight ends.
Before announcing his decision, Charles talked with Lynch.
"He's fired up," Charles said. "He's ready. I'm pretty sure he'll do a very good job of doing whatever the coaches ask him to do."