ATHENS, Ga. - After weeks of speculation that they would leave for the NFL Draft, UGA star running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel announced Thursday they will return to Athens for their senior seasons.
That wasn't the only great news for Bulldog fans as junior linebackers Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy also announced they will return in 2017.
Head Coach Kirby Smart met with reporters along with the four, and expressed his appreciation to their families and to the student-athletes for the first class manner in which they reached their decision.
"All four of them have decided to stay, to come back," Smart said
"I'm excited about the future of the Georgia Bulldog program, this means a lot to me and for our program that they all made this decision," Smart told reporters.
All four players thanked their families, their parents along with God and the support staff of the University of Georgia when they commented on their decision.
Chubb said this season didn't turn out the way he wanted, and the brotherhood on the team is something he wants to be a part of for another year and didn't want to pass up his senior year.
"I'm beyond excited about coming back; we want to build it up to where it should be," Chubb added.
Less than a year after suffering a season-ending knee injury, Chubb exploded in Georgia's opener, rushing 32 times for 222 yards in a win against North Carolina.
But his production lessened as the season continued. He finished the 2016 regular season with 207 carries for 988 years, a 4.8 yards per carry average well below the average in his first two season.
Michel, who broke the 1000 yard mark in 2015 after Chubb's injury, had to overcome a non-football injury at the beginning of the season. He finished with 753 yards on 137 carries, averaging 5.5 yards per carry.
Michel said he was excited to come back as the Bulldogs are a young team, and he's looking forward to his senior year.
As recently as a week ago both Chubb and Michel were viewed as all but gone in regards to the 2017 season with Bellamy and Carter still weighing their options. Now, instead of the Bulldogs possibly losing four early entrants into the draft, they will lose none and return 13 seniors in the two-deep depth chart on offense and defense.
Carter and Bellamy were both starters for the Bulldogs in 2016 where they are tied for the team lead in sacks with four apiece. Bellamy leads the team in tackles for a loss with eight while Carter has five.
During his three years of action at UGA Bellamy has tallied seven sacks, 15.5 tackles for a loss, 13 quarterback hurries and a pair of forced fumbles to go with 99 total tackles. Carter has 97 total tackles in his UGA career with 8.5 sacks, 12 tackles for a loss, 19 quarterback hurries, and two forced fumbles in his career.
Carter said he sees big things happing for the Bulldogs going forward, and he wants to be a part of it.
Bellamy said being at UGA is a blessing, and he started thinking about coming back after how his last game at Sanford Stadium turned out. He wants to come back and be a leader and help the young defense.
The Georgia Bulldogs had their second bowl workout Thursday as they get set for the upcoming AutoZone Liberty Bowl. They conducted a two-hour practice at the Club Sports Complex on Milledge Avenue.
Afterwards, Smart also announced that three Bulldog reserves would not participate in the bowl as they are looking to transfer. They are sophomore defensive backs Juwuan Briscoe and Rico McGraw plus sophomore wide receiver Shaquery Wilson.