Wednesday, January 10
Carter declares for NFL draft eligibility

ATLANTA -- Quincy Carter's junior season was the worst of his college career. That didn't stop the quarterback from giving up his final year at Georgia to enter the NFL draft.

Carter, who completed less than half of his passes in an injury plagued season, announced Tuesday he's turning pro. He made the decision after meeting with new coach Mark Richt.

"It was a difficult decision to make," Carter said in a statement released by the school. "There are so many factors to weigh and you cannot predict what the future will hold either by staying or going."

He declined any additional comment about his decision, such as how high he expects to be drafted. His mother, Sherry Carter-Embree, said when reached at her Atlanta-area home that Carter planned to hold a news conference in a few days.

Richt said "time will tell" if Carter made the right choice.

"He's definitely a talented football player," the coach said. "It sounds like he's going to be a draft pick and get his opportunity."

Carter apparently had some concern about whether he would be the starting quarterback under Richt.

"He asked if he would be the starter and I said he would start number one when we started work," Richt said. "The big question, I think in his mind, was how quickly could it all come together for him to really have the success that he was looking for."

Carter considered leaving Georgia after his sophomore season, but he returned with hopes of leading the Bulldogs to their first Southeastern Conference championship since 1982.

Instead, he missed five games with shoulder and thumb injuries while Georgia struggled to an 8-4 mark that led to the firing of coach Jim Donnan, a strong Carter supporter.

When he was on the field, Carter completed only 49.7 percent of his passes (91-of-183) for 1,250 yards, with six touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Richt, who is still assembling his Georgia staff, had hoped to persuade Carter to stay for another year.

"I would've liked to work with Quincy," Richt said. "He's a talented young man and, from what I understand, a hard worker. He's gone now, so we've got to move on."

Carter may have been better off leaving Georgia a year ago, when he was coming off a strong sophomore season.

He was named to the All-SEC second team after completing almost 58 percent of his attempts for 2,713 yards -- setting a school record for a sophomore -- and 17 touchdowns. He also had a streak of 170 consecutive passes without an interception, third-longest in SEC history.

"He's a talented player," offensive lineman Jon Stinchcomb said. "Talented players want to go to the next level."

Carter initially signed with Georgia Tech after starring at Southwest DeKalb High School, only to give up football for two years while he pursued a career in baseball with the Chicago Cubs organization.

He struggled as a hitter and never advanced past the Class A level, prompting his return to football in 1998.

Georgia Tech already had an established quarterback in Joe Hamilton, so Carter decided to play for the Bulldogs, who needed someone to replace Mike Bobo. The move prompted bitter feelings between the state rivals.

Carter earned the starting job right away, passing for 2,484 yards and 12 touchdowns as a 21-year-old freshman. He guided the Bulldogs to a 9-3 record, including a come-from-behind victory over Virginia in the Peach Bowl.

Georgia went 8-4 in both of Carter's next two seasons, well below expectations. He was criticized for failing to play well against the school's biggest rivals, going 0-3 against Florida, 0-2 against Georgia Tech and 1-2 against Tennessee.

This past season, Carter's streak of 30 consecutive starts ended because of a bruised rotator cuff. He returned to play in a loss to Florida, only to sprain a ligament in the thumb of his throwing hand.

Carter missed Georgia's final three regular-season games as well as an Oahu Bowl victory over Virginia. Former walk-on Cory Phillips took over as the starter and will probably go into spring as the leading contender for the job.

Georgia also has freshman David Green, a highly regarded prospect who was redshirted this season. Donnan considered him the quarterback of the future.

"Anytime a player leaves, it opens up an opportunity for someone else to step up," Richt said. "I haven't had a chance to study every player. We'll line them up, we'll start practicing, and we'll see how it ends up at the end of spring."

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