ATHENS — Former Buford High standout Mikey Henderson made this "Senior Day" really special.
Georgia’s receiver-kick returner proposed to his girlfriend on the field at Sanford Stadium during a ceremony honoring Henderson and the other seniors Saturday, just before the kickoff of the season’s final home game against Kentucky.
Christina Daskalakis, who has been dating Henderson for about 18 months, was clearly caught off guard by the proposal.
"The first words out of her mouth were, ‘What are you doing?"’ Henderson said after the Bulldogs’ 24-13 victory. "I was like, ‘Don’t worry about it."’
Then, he popped the question. She said yes.
Henderson said he wanted to do something special for his girlfriend-now-fiancee, who graduated from Georgia in May.
"She bleeds red and black just as much as I do," he said. "If she could be in my body and out there playing, she would. She loves Georgia as much as anyone else."
Henderson was inspired by Boise State running back Ian Johnson, who proposed to his cheerleader girlfriend after last season’s Fiesta Bowl. The Georgia player figured senior day would be his best chance, since his girlfriend would be on the field with Henderson’s family.
"This was my senior day. I wanted it to be our senior day," he said. "I wanted this to be just as much her moment as it was my moment."
Coach Mark Richt was standing next to Henderson when he proposed.
"That was a neat moment," Richt said. "Mikey’s had some good moments this year. He’s milked everything he can out of that 152-pound body."
Henderson had some time to plan his wedding on the sideline. He didn’t return after leaving the game late in the first half with a left leg contusion, though it was more a precautionary move. He expects to play in next week’s regular-season finale against Georgia Tech.
Scott Haverkamp, who started Georgia’s first three games at right guard, didn’t even make it to the end of the season.
Richt said Haverkamp has quit the team and will likely transfer to Kansas State to finish out his degree.
"Scott decided that he doesn’t want to play football anymore," Richt said.
Haverkamp, who transferred to Georgia from Butler Community College, began this season as a starter on the young offensive line. But true freshman Clint Boling claimed the job before the Alabama game.
With little chance of getting back in the lineup, the 6-foot-4, 310-pound Haverkamp decided to call it a career.
For a guy who spent most of his career as a backup, Marcus Howard sure went out with a bang in his final home game.
Howard, who didn’t earn a starting job until his senior season, had two sacks for a total of 31 yards. His biggest play came in the fourth quarter, when he dumped Andre Woodson for an 18-yard loss that forced Kentucky to try a 51-yard field. It missed.
"What a hard worker," Richt said. "He’s a pain in the butt to block, especially when you know it’s going to be a pass."
The Bulldogs took a real leap of faith when they put a 220-pounder on the defensive line. Howard made it pay off, leading the Bulldogs with 71/2 sacks.
"He’s not the prototype for that position," Richt said. "But he’s playing well. I think the NFL is going to be interested in him. He’s fast, and he’s really strong for a guy his size."
Howard has clearly relished his one and only season as a starter, and he thanks defensive line coach Jon Fabris for giving him a chance.
"I just wanted to go out and play good for this football team and try not to let him down," Howard said. "I didn’t want to be the weakest link on the defense."
No worries there.
Freshman Rennie Curran wasn’t everywhere on Saturday. It just looked that way.
In his third career start, the freshman linebacker led Georgia with 13 tackles — 12 of them solo stops — and appears to be a star in the making.
"I’m just trying to get out there and make plays for this team, do whatever I can," Curran said. "We knew this was the last home game of the year. We wanted to dig deep."
Curran is only 5-foot-11, but the Bulldogs saw plenty of potential in the former Brookwood High School star.
"A lot of people said he was too short," Richt said. "But we looked at production. He had like 180 tackles a year. He was a tackling machine in high school."
Seventy in seven club
Richt became only the eighth coach in major college history to win 70 games in his first seven years. Richt’s career record improved to 70-19 with the win over the Wildcats.
"Wow," he said. "Those are absolutely Georgia victories, not my victories. I’m probably doing less now than I’ve ever done. I’m watching the assistant coaches do all the coaching. I’m just trying to keep the ship moving in the right direction."
Other active members of the "70-in-seven" club are Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops, who went 75-16, and Southern Cal’s Pete Carroll, who was 73-14.