0

Stafford, Moreno enter NFL draft
UGA duo are projected to be first round picks

ATHENS - With Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno headed to the NFL, Georgia probably won't have to worry about another preseason No. 1 ranking in 2009.

Stafford, a junior who set a school record with 25 touchdown passes this season, and Moreno, only the second Georgia player to rush for more than 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons, said Wednesday they are leaving school to enter the NFL draft.

Neither decision was a surprise. Each is a projected first-round pick.

After the two announced their decisions, Georgia coach Mark Richt offered advice for NFL executives: 'Trade up for them, if you're smart.'

'I think whichever NFL teams get them will be very excited and very blessed by it,' Richt said. 'They'll not only be good players but they'll be good in their locker rooms and good in their communities. They're gonna do well.'

Stafford returned to campus from his family's home in Dallas for Wednesday's announcement. Moreno made the trip from Belford, N.J.

Todd McShay, director of college football scouting for Scouts Inc., said Stafford (6-3, 230) may be the top pick in the draft.

'Matthew Stafford drives NFL scouts crazy because he's got it all,' McShay said. 'He has it all. Prototypical size, a rifle arm.'

McShay said Stafford and Oklahoma's Sam Bradford could be the two top quarterbacks in the draft, assuming Bradford also declares early. The Sooners play Florida for the BCS national championship tonight.

One of the two quarterbacks could end up in Detroit, which has the No. 1 pick, and playing for the first 0-16 team in league history doesn't seem to bother Stafford.

'That's fine with me,' Stafford said. 'I'd love to play anywhere that wants me to play and try to make them a winner.'

Stafford said he was advised by the NFL draft board that he'd be a first-round pick, but he said he wasn't advised how high in the round he could expect to be taken.

Moreno, a third-year sophomore, didn't have the benefit of advice from the NFL draft board.

'I didn't get my papers in on time,' Moreno said with a smile, causing Richt to laugh, shake his head and briefly cover his eyes.

Moreno said he consulted only with his college coaches and family.

'I prayed a little bit also about my decision,' he said.

Stafford and Moreno formed one of the most productive backfield tandems in school history.

The two stars led Georgia to 12 wins and a No. 2 finish in the final poll last season, and they helped make the Bulldogs the preseason No. 1 pick this season.

Georgia finished a disappointing 10-3, but Stafford and Moreno had big years.

Moreno had 1,400 yards rushing with 16 touchdowns this season to join Herschel Walker as the only players in school history with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. Stafford, protected by a young offensive line, passed for 3,459 yards and set a school record with 3,499 yards of total offense.