SEC losses another star, as Georgia’s Houston opts for NFL draft

Chris Low of ESPN.com reports that Georgia All-SEC outside linebacker Justin Houston has decided to declare early for the NFL draft. Houston finished second in the SEC this season with 10 sacks, which gave him 17.5 sacks over the past two seasons.

Houston is the latest SEC underclassmen to turn pro over the past month. Teammate A.J. Green announced last week that he was skipping his senior season to enter the NFL draft, which means the Bulldogs will lose four linebackers and their star receiver this offseason. (Darryl Gamble and Akeem Dent were seniors, while Marcus Dowtin is transferring to another school.)

Late last week, quarterback Cam Newton and defensive tackle Nick Fairley of Auburn decided to forego their senior seasons and enter the draft. Kentucky will also be without Randall Cobb next season, while Alabama will lose running back Mark Ingram, receiver Julio Jones and defensive end Marcell Dareus to the NFL.

Fairley could have company in the top 5 if scouts view fellow SEC player Ryan Mallett (Arkansas) as a top selection. At 6-6 and 238 pounds, Mallett certainly has the size and arm strength to develop into a starting quarterback at the next level, but some have questioned his inability to close out big games and lead his team in crunch time.

LSU’s Patrick Peterson and Stevan Ridley are two more names that the SEC will lose this offseason, but the conference is always producing new talent. It will repopulate.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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