Bulldogs in depth

Bulldogs in depth

August 28th, 2011 by David Paschall in Sports - College

Orson Charles

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

OFFENSIVE TWO-DEEP

* returning starter (player started more than half the games of 2010)

Quarterback

Aaron Murray *So., 6-1, 211

Hutson Mason So., 6-3, 196

Fullback

Bruce Figgins Sr., 6-4, 272

Zander Ogletree So., 5-10, 224

Tailback

Richard Samuel Jr., 6-2, 243

Isaiah Crowell Fr., 5-11, 215

Spilt end

Marlon Brown Jr., 6-5, 222

Michael Bennett Fr., 6-3, 208

Flanker

Tavarres King Jr., 6-1, 192

Malcolm Mitchell Fr., 6-1, 187

Tight end

Orson Charles *Jr., 6-3, 241

Aron White Sr., 6-4, 239

Left Tackle

Cordy Glenn *Sr., 6-5, 348

Watts Dantzler Fr., 6-7, 310

Left Guard

Kenarious Gates So., 6-5, 328

Kolton Houston Fr., 6-5, 291

Center

Ben Jones *Sr., 6-3, 316

David Andrews Fr., 6-2, 280

Right guard

Chris Burnette So., 6-2, 313

Dallas Lee So., 6-4, 300

Right tackle

Justin Anderson Sr., 6-5, 342

Austin Long So., 6-5, 304

Kicker

Blair Walsh Sr., 5-10, 192

Brandon Bogotay Sr., 6-3, 207

Punter

Drew Butler Sr., 6-2, 214

Adam Erickson Fr., 5-10, 168

QUARTERBACK

Aaron Murray heads into his sophomore season as the preseason All-SEC quarterback based on his 3,049 yards and 24 touchdowns last season and the departures of Cam Newton, Ryan Mallett and Greg McElroy, who were drafted into the NFL in April.

Murray will be backed by sophomore Hutson Mason and freshman Christian LeMay. Though LeMay arrived as the more heralded prospect and went through spring practice after enrolling early, Mason has been able to remain No. 2 after being needed last year when Zach Mettenberger was dismissed from the program and Logan Gray switched to receiver.

Mason and Matthew Stafford are the only two quarterbacks in the Mark Richt era who did not redshirt as freshmen.

RUNNING BACK

It did not take long in preseason camp for redshirt junior Richard Samuel and freshman Isaiah Crowell to pull away from a pack that includes junior Carlton Thomas, redshirt freshman Ken Malcome and sophomore Brandon Harton. Samuel and Crowell will give the Bulldogs a combination of power and speed, but there are unknowns with each.

How will Samuel, who two months ago was an inside linebacker, fare at the position where Washaun Ealey and Caleb King bypassed him in 2009? And how will Crowell, rated by ESPN as the nation's top tailback in the 2011 signing class, handle the hype?

Bulldogs coaches have expressed their comfort in Samuel because of his two seasons (2008-09) at the position, but Bulldogs fans are clamoring to see Crowell with the hope he will become the program's next great one.

RECEIVER

The Bulldogs have to replace two of the top 12 receivers taken in April's NFL draft. A.J. Green was the team's top talent for each of the past two seasons, while Kris Durham flourished in his senior year and parlayed that performance into a fourth-round pick by the Seattle Seahawks.

Next in line among Georgia's receivers a year ago was Tavarres King, who had 27 catches for 504 yards and three touchdowns. King is the leader of this year's bunch. Junior Marlon Brown has not lived up to his high-school clippings through two seasons, and Malcolm Mitchell is a freshman whose raw talent may ignite some possibilities on the perimeter.

Any mention of Georgia's receivers has to contain tight ends Orson Charles and Aron White. The tandem combined for 35 catches last season, and Charles emerged from spring practice as the offensive MVP for the 15 workouts, so expect him to be a favorite target for Murray.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Ben Jones is considered one of the best centers in the country, and left tackle Cordy Glenn is being viewed in the same manner even though most of his career has been spent at guard. Those two give the Bulldogs a chance to be at least respectable up front, and Chris Burnette and Kenarious Gates could provide a quality guard tandem.

Right tackle Justin Anderson, a former offensive-line starter who was moved to defense last year but had his season scratched by turf toe, is a big key.

The biggest concern up front is a notable lack of quality depth. Watts Dantzler, Kolton Houston, David Andrews, Dallas Lee and Austin Long comprise the projected second-team line, and Lee's games last year against Louisiana-Lafayette, Vanderbilt and Idaho State - all three victories by 43 or more points - constitute all the playing experience for the reserve quintet.

Brandon Boykin

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

DEFENSIVE TWO-DEEP

* returning starter (player started more than half the games of 2010)

Defensive end

Abry Jones Jr., 6-3, 309

Garrison Smith So., 6-3, 294

Nose tackle

Kwame Geathers So., 6-6, 350

Jonathan Jenkins Jr., 6-4, 345

Defensive end

DeAngelo Tyson *Sr., 6-2, 306

Derrick Lott So., 6-4, 303

Outside linebacker

Jarvis Jones So., 6-3, 241

Chase Vasser So., 6-3, 227

Inside linebacker

Christian Robinson *Jr., 6-2, 226

Michael Gilliard Jr., 6-2, 220

Inside linebacker

Alec Ogletree So., 6-3, 226

Amarlo Herrera Fr., 6-1, 224

Outside linebacker

Cornelius Washington *So., 6-4, 260

Ray Drew Fr., 6-5, 243

Cornerback

Sanders Commings *Jr., 6-2, 217

Jordan Love So., 6-0, 190

Strong safety

Shawn Williams Jr., 6-1, 220

Marc Deas Fr., 6-1, 197

Free safety

Bacarri Rambo *Jr., 6-0, 218

Corey Moore Fr., 6-1, 195

Cornerback

Brandon Boykin *Sr., 5-10, 183

Branden Smith Jr., 5-11, 176

Kick returner

Brandon Boykin Sr., 5-10, 183

Branden Smith Jr., 5-11, 176

Punt returner

Brandon Boykin Sr., 5-10, 183

Branden Smith Jr., 5-11, 176

DEFENSIVE LINE

A weakness last season should be a strength this year due to a switch, an addition and an emergence.

DeAngelo Tyson was not a true noseguard a year ago and was shifted out to end before spring practice. He now will play opposite Abry Jones, which should give the Bulldogs a solid end tandem.

The addition occurred this summer with the arrival of mammoth Jonathan Jenkins from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. Jenkins was thought to be the starter when he signed in February, but the emergence of Kwame Geathers, the defensive MVP of spring practice, has prevented Jenkins from taking the top spot.

Coaches are hoping Jenkins can be effective enough to allow Geathers to play at both nose and end, which shows that the Bulldogs have many more favorable options in this area compared to last season.

LINEBACKERS

Shifting sophomore Alec Ogletree from safety to inside linebacker this spring apparently has paid dividends, as Richt singled out Ogletree earlier this month for making the most plays on defense. Fellow inside linebacker Christian Robinson is the quarterback of the defense, though he has yet to showcase a dominating style of play to supplement his leadership qualities.

The top reserves inside are junior Michael Gilliard and freshman Amarlo Herrera.

Jarvis Jones is eager to get his Georgia career going after starting out at Southern Cal in 2009, sitting out last season and having some eligibility issues dismissed earlier this month by the NCAA. Jones is expected to start opposite fellow sophomore Cornelius Washington, who missed some time with a hamstring strain earlier this month and is backed up by touted freshman Ray Drew.

SECONDARY

This is another area with more options from a year ago, with Branden Smith's development and Sanders Commings' versatility.

Commings and Brandon Boykin entered camp as the starting cornerbacks, but Smith, the star of the G-Day game, is now considered so much more than a nickel back. There is the potential of Boykin and Smith becoming the starters, which would shift Commings to safety.

Jordan Love also may provide quality corner depth.

Coaches worked Commings more and more at safety as camp progressed, as he joined the company of Bacarri Rambo and Shawn Williams. Richt has spent time this month praising Williams, so the Bulldogs could have as many as six or seven defensive backs who will log significant minutes.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Georgia has the finest collection of specialists in the country, arguably for the third straight year.

Senior kicker Blair Walsh has made 40 of 45 field-goal attempts the past two seasons and set the school record with 119 consecutive extra points. Senior punter Drew Butler led the nation in 2009 with a 48.1-yard average, and he was disappointed that he averaged "only" 44.5 yards last season.

Butler won the Ray Guy Award two years ago, when Walsh was among three finalists for the Lou Groza Award.

The return game is headed by Brandon Boykin, the only player in SEC history to have three 100-yard kickoff returns. Aiding him in the return game will be Branden Smith, who averaged 14.3 yards on 10 punt returns in 2010.