Published Thursday, January 03, 2013

Newnan's Ogletrees go separate ways after Alec makes decision to turn pro


A post on Twitter during Tuesday's Capital One Bowl Game may have summed up Alec Ogletree's natural ability to swallow up offensive opponents on the football field.

It read - 'Alec Ogletree doesn't tackle ... He body slams.'

The 6-foot-3, 232-pound Newnan junior, who led the University of Georgia in tackles - capped off by 13 in the Bulldogs' 45-31 bowl game victory over Nebraska - probably would make one heck of a professional wrestler after turning at least one opposing running backs on his helmets this season.

But there's no doubt that pro football beckons first for the former Cougar All-State sensation.

Ogletree, who played alongside slightly older twin brother Zander for three years in Athens after both earned scholarship offers from head coach Mark Richt at Newnan High, didn't waste any time revealing a decision to enter this year's NFL Draft as an underclassmen following Tuesday's game.

It ended with Alec's ground-shaking sack of Nebraska quarterback Travis Martinez on what became his final college snap.

After discussing it with family members including parents Al and Alysson during the month prior to the game, his mind was made up to forgo his senior year of eligibility at Georgia.

'This is my last game,' Alec told Athens' sports writer Marc Weiszer of his college career. 'It's a tough decision, but I felt like it was the right one for me to do based on just where I may go and the amount of risk it is to come back. I talked to my parents and let God lead me in the right way.'

Alec said he knew Georgia's bowl game would be his last before the Bulldogs kicked off against Nebraska Saturday.

'I knew after talking over the (holiday) break and talking to everybody I needed to talk to get the right decision,' Ogletree said.

The brothers have played on nearly every team together since they were 6-years-old, both playing for Smokey Road Middle before starring as two-way players at Newnan High. Both were key contributors to state semifinal appearances as seniors in both football and basketball.

Zander will now head into his senior season after playing in eight games at fullback, two as a starter, while also posting his first collegiate touchdowns during the 2012 season.

'I feel like it's just better things in life that are happening right now,' Zander told Weiszer. 'It's just a blessing to have one of us, especially out of our family and our hometown, just to be playing in the National Football League. I feel like that's a blessing. Being in our family, we've just got to support him. I've still got to get my degree and do everything I've got to do to become a professional and everything, too.'

Alec finished the year with a team-high 111 tackles despite missing the first four games of the season due to a violation of team rules. He played all three seasons at Georgia, eventually working his way into the lineup at safety and cornerback as a true freshman.

Alec's 12 tackles for loss were second behind teammate Jarvis Jones. He recovered two fumbles, including one in Tuesday's bowl game.

The following spring, Alec was moved to middle linebacker. He started the 2011 season opener against Boise State in the Georgia Dome, but suffered a broken foot that kept him out the next seven games. In his eight games, he recorded 52 tackles and three forced fumbles before ending the year with a then career-high 13 tackles in the Outback Bowl against Michigan State.

He eclipsed that effort twice in 2012, making 14 tackles in a win over Tennessee and then posting 15 - including 10 solo hits - in a victory over Georgia Tech.

Alec also posted his first career interception as a junior and contributed a safety and a touchdown, the latter off a blocked field-goal attempt against Alabama in the SEC Championship Game.

While he did not send in paperwork to get a projection of his draft status, ESPN insiders Todd McShay and Mel Kiper each had Alec ranked in their top 20 overall prospects. McShay ranks him as the No. 2 available inside linebacker behind only Heisman Trophy finalist Manti Te'o of Notre Dame.

In his initial rating, Kiper wrote, 'He could be a top-10 pick, and I think teams could move him all over.'

Ogletree would be the first Coweta County player drafted in the first round since Keith Brooking in 1999. The last Newnan High player picked that high was Michael Cheever during the second round of the 1996 NFL Draft.

In addition to his 13 tackles, Alec had three for loss, forced and recovered a fumble and made a sack on his final play as a Bulldog.

'It was very important for us to come out today and get the win and send the seniors out the right way,' said Ogletree. 'With this being my last game, I wanted to go out with a win, too.'

Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham had high praise for his departing middle linebacker.

'I love the guy. He's done everything we've asked him to do. I'd do anything in the world for him because he's really laid it on the line for us.'

Meanwhile, Newnan High's number of Georgia football athletes will remain at two with the enrollment of recent graduate Tray Matthews, who will officially sign with the Bulldogs on Feb. 6. Along with Zander, Georgia's roster includes former Coweta standouts Eddie McQuillen (Trinity Christian) and Cole Trolinger (East Coweta).

Matthews is currently in San Antonio preparing for Saturday's nationally televised U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

Northgate senior DeAndre 'Moose' Johnson, who has verbally committed to the Bulldogs, will join Matthews on this year's signing class for head coach Mark Richt.

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