ATLANTA — One week after two Georgia teammates were lured to the NFL draft by the probability of being first-round picks, cornerback Asher Allen said Tuesday he’s leaving school early despite having a less-certain draft outlook.
Allen said he finally made what he called a "family decision" to pass up his senior season at Georgia. Thursday is the last day underclassmen can declare for the draft.
The 5-foot-10, 198-pound Allen had no interceptions as a junior after having three in 2007. He finished fourth on the team with 53 tackles.
Junior quarterback Matthew Stafford and redshirt sophomore running back Knowshon Moreno announced last week they were entering the draft. Both are considered first-round picks.
Allen wouldn’t provide details of what he was told by the NFL advisory committee about where he was projected in the draft, but he said he hopes to be selected in the first two rounds.
Allen said he made the decision "for my family and for myself."
"It was probably the hardest decision I’ve had to make in my life," he said in a telephone interview from his family’s home in Tucker, Ga.
"My father, my mother and my brother are a big part of my life. ... Anybody who knows me knows I love Georgia. I bleed red and black. To forego my last year in school, obviously my family had to be a big part of it."
With teams often directing their passing attack to the other side of the field, Allen became a run-stopper in his junior season. He had a team-high nine solo tackles and a sack in Georgia’s 24-12 Capital One Bowl win over Michigan State.
Allen said it was a sometimes frustrating departure from 2007, his first season as a starter when he had three interceptions.
"Obviously last year was really my first year and teams were really coming at me," he said. "I had a great chance and I proved myself. This year a lot of teams were not doing that.
"It was frustrating at times. Stats-wise you might have two tackles and that’s it, but you’re helping out the team and eliminating a receiver or protecting a side. Once you turn the film on you completely understand what’s going on."
Allen said he can use the NFL draft combine to win over any doubters among NFL scouts and general managers.
"Obviously a lot of stuff is what you do when you’re at the combine and when you’re out talking with the coaches and things like that," Allen said.
Allen made his announcement after what he described as a very difficult process of reaching his decision.
"For three weeks I’ve been walking around my house, not sleeping, nothing but family meetings and everything," he said. "We’ve been talking forever."
Allen said the possibility of improving his draft status as a senior was offset by the fear an injury could hurt his NFL hopes.
Allen said he consulted with Georgia coach Mark Richt, defensive coordinator Willie Martinez and other assistant coaches.
"Asher Allen has been a great part of our football team as well as our overall athletic program over the past three years," Richt said. "We will certainly miss him, however we wish him the very best in the NFL draft and with his professional football aspirations."