Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno will be announcing their plans for the 2009 football season, and all sources seem to indicate right now that they will be turning pro. I can’t say I blame them, but as a loyal Dawg fan, it still hurts. It’s not a huge surprise by any means, as both are the top ranked players at their position, with Stafford possibly being the number one pick overall. But with some key players returning from injury next year, it would have been nice to have those two in uniform to make one more run at a championship.
I’ve tried to put myself in their shoes and figure out what I would do in the same situation. And I have to say, I can see why it’s a tough decision. There are good reasons to choose either side.
As far as Stafford is concerned, if he’s a possible number one pick now, it’s kind of tough to improve his draft status in 2010. Some say that he doesn’t have the “big” game in his resume. While I kind of see their point, he has still led Georgia to some key victories (remember the ‘Bama game in ’07). And in his defense, their losses and narrow wins this year were more a result of shaky defense than poor offense. Sure they had some struggles, but for the most part they were putting up more than enough points to win each week. He also showed a lot in the Capital One Bowl last week. No, Michigan State isn’t Florida, but he showed a lot of resolve when he came back from a terrible first half to put up huge numbers.
In Moreno’s case, he’s proved all he has to at the college level. The guy is just a machine. He ran well over 1,000 yards in both of his seasons, and he’s a weekly highlight reel. He seemed to constantly turn what was a sure 5-yard loss play into a gain of some sort. His play energizes the team and annoys the heck out of the opposition.
On the one hand, I like to think I would stay if I were them. Does it get much better than playing for a huge program in a great college town with an awesome fan base? In a way, no. And the money would have been there next year too, as the NFL rookie payscale won’t be changing until 2011.
But they’re playing for their future, and all the circumstances seem to indicate that now is the best time for them to take that step. Their arguably the top picks at their positions and their healthy. Why not go now?
It’s disappointing to know we won’t be seeing them in the Georgia red anymore, but when Stafford hit Moreno for the final touchdown in last week’s bowl game, it almost seemed too picture perfect to mean anything other than that it was the last time we’d see that happen.
They represented the program well, and I wish them all the best. Go Dawgs!