On a side note that linebacker Odell Thornton sorta impressed me in their bowl game. ************************** Davis is first UGA junior set to turn pro By STEVE WYCHE The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Published on: 01/04/05 Georgia All-American junior free safety Thomas Davis will bypass his senior season for the NFL, his high school football coach said Tuesday. "He called me . . . and said, 'Coach, I'm gone,' " said Jim McFather, who coached Davis at Randolph-Clay High in Shellman. EMAIL THIS PRINT THIS MOST POPULAR Davis, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday, signed with Atlanta-based agent Todd France. Davis is believed to have notified team officials of his decision, but coach Mark Richt and members of his staff were not available Tuesday. McFather said Davis' decision was all but sealed when he suffered a knee injury against Florida that prevented him from playing against Kentucky the following week. That, combined with his desire to provide for his child and his mother, made the appeal of the NFL and its financial rewards too hard to bypass. "That knee injury could have been more serious," McFather said. "He thought about that." The departure of the 6-foot-1, 225-pound, teeth-rattling safety comes as no surprise since he elevated himself into a near-certain first-round pick this season, based on reports from draft analysts. Though Davis refused to publicly declare his intent during the season, he gradually backed off his mandate that he would have to be a top-15 pick and that being the first safety drafted and a projected first-rounder would be ideal cause for him to leave. Davis told McFather he was going to the NFL the day after returning home from the Outback Bowl. "We talked about him going pro last year about this time but he said the best he'd been told he would be was a second-round pick," McFather said. "He said, 'I'll stay another year because we've got a shot at winning a national championship.' " Though safety is not considered a premium position in the NFL, Davis' combination of size, speed, physical style and potential to return to his natural position of outside linebacker, has reportedly heightened his appeal. Davis led Georgia in tackles the past two seasons — 212 — and was named first team all-SEC both times and an All-American this season. His aggressive nature left him vulnerable in pass coverage but his play-making ability tended to balance out his shortcomings. Defensive backs coach Willie Martinez said last week that if Davis were to leave, junior strong safety Greg Blue would move over to free safety and Tra Battle would enter spring drills as the likely No. 1 strong safety. Freshman Kelin Johnson made favorable impressions as this season progressed and he is expected to compete for snaps at both safety spots. Davis might not be the last All-SEC Bulldog junior to leave. Middle linebacker Odell Thurman and offensive guard Max Jean-Gilles both are weighing their options. Neither has revealed his plans. In other developments, senior quarterback David Greene, who won his NCAA-record 42nd career game at the Outback Bowl, has signed with Atlanta-based agent Pat Dye Jr. Dye also in the running to sign all-SEC senior wide receiver Reggie Brown.