If you follow University of Georgia football recruiting, you're probably already aware that the 'Dawgs secured a commitment yesterday from Manning, South Carolina defensive end Dexter Morant. You also probably already knew about the commitment of Walton defensive end Brandon Burrows. And if you've been reading the TMI recruiting series here at Dawgsports, you already knew too much about defensive end commitment Jalen Fields and linebacker/defensive end B.J. Butler.
And you may also have known that Georgia may not be done. The coaches are still recruiting Jackson LB/DE Neiron Ball, Southwest Dekalb defensive end T.J. Stripling, and Carver-Columbus defensive end Corey Crawford. While it's unlikely that the coaches will sign all three of those guys, simple arithmetic tells us (because we're not Auburn grads, because arithmetic never tells them anything) that there simply aren't five roster spots available for defensive ends at this time. What gives?
The answer is a confluence of circumstances that looks to be coming down the pipe, which should conspire to shake out the logjam at defensive end. One piece of the puzzle is injury. Most of our young defensive ends have had injury issues (Jeremy Longo, Neland Ball and Cornelius Washington for example), and the law of averages tends to dictate that at least one may be headed for a medical hardship. Also, Burrows is coming off a torn ACL which could theoretically keep him from competing as a true freshman.
Another issue is position changes. Demarcus Dobbs has been one slice of pie away from moving to defensive tackle for a while. The same can be said for Brandon Wood. There's a reasonable chance that either one or both could move inside on at least a part time basis in 2010 to add experience there after the loss of Owens, Atkins and Weston. It's also not out of the realm of possibility that Morant ends up as a defensive tackle. Rivals currently lists him at 6'7 and 240 pounds. Based on his appearance at the Mark Richt camp earlier this summer I think that weight is a little generous (more on that during his stint under the TMI spotlight) and would guess something more like 215-225 pounds. But it's not unheard of for a kid to put on 60 pounds between age 17 and age 19, especially if he's hitting the weights and the training table religiously.
And while I project B.J. Butler as a defensive end, there's no gurantee he won't end up at linebacker, or perhaps in a hybrid strongside linebacker/defensive end role. From Coach Richt's comments at last month's Pigskin Preview, it seems Daryl Gamble will be doing something like that this season, and if it works out Butler could slot in behind him. The same could be said for either Neiron Ball or T.J. Stripling should either matriculate in Athens.
Finally, there's no gurantee that all of the guys we've gotten verbal commitments from at this point qualify for 2010. While Coach Richt and crew have done an excellent job over the past couple of years of signing guys who will ultimately make the grade, there are no guarantees.
Say this for the University of Georgia football staff: they are taking a proactive approach to curing what ailed the team in 2008. It's no secret that injuries and performance issues on the defensive side of the ball contributed to some losses, and made a few wins closer affairs than they should have been. Perhaps as a result, 10 of the 'Dawgs 15 public commitments to date should play on the defensive side of the ball. Given the anemic state of last season's pass rush, we should all be glad that reinforcements are on the way in droves.
Until later . . .