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Offensively, Georgia returns almost everyone, for what could be the most potent attack Athens has ever seen, while defensively there are holes to fill, but a lot of young talent to do the filling. So, let's take a look at what our Dawgs might* look like next fall. (*With the better part of a year between now, and when fall camp begins next August, you can almost be guaranteed several names mentioned above will not be in Athens next year.)
Editors note: This has nothing to do with the results of last Saturday, and had been preplanned several weeks ago to fill the void of normal Friday afternoon coverage of an opposing team on a bye week. And since it is also filling in for your regular Too Much Information, so this will be long, and quite verbose, so be prepared for as much as I can cram in here on next season's potential.
We included everyone who had eligibility remaining or was currently committed, this includes the almost sure to be NFL bound LB duo of juniors Alec Ogletree and Jarvis Jones. By this current count, we have room for one more player (cue chuckdawg saying we need more offensive lineman), but I'd expect at least a handful more recruits to be brought in as some players move on early to the NFL, or decide to get more playing time elsewhere, or ride dirty in a school zone. Still, even with some defections, this is a team that looks absolutely loaded with talent across the board, will have improved depth, and should be extremely powerful offensively. Position by position breakdown below-
QB- Aaron Murray (Sr), Hutson Mason (Jr), Christian Lemay (So), Faton Bauta (rsFR), Brice Ramsey (Fr)
There are also several walk ons competing at QB, but tthose 5 are our main group. It's a strong group, with what should be a 4th year starter in Murray, quality backups should Murray go down in Mason and Lemay, and a redshirting "next" in Ramsey. With the depth chart what it is, we wouldn't be surprised to see Bauta shift to LB, FB, or TE, or for either Mason or Lemay to go somewhere playing time is easier to obtain. Regardless, we look to be just fine at quarterback, and Murray is going to have a lot of weapons to work with as a senior.
TB- Todd Gurley (So), Keith Marshall (So), Boo Malcome (Jr)
You can add walk-ons senior Brandon Harton and junior Kyle Karempelis to the mix, although we'd all rather see them get their carries in late, blowout situations only. We've got a couple targets in recruiting so that at least one more will be added to the mix. While Marshall and Gurley, particularly Gurley with his power and speed combination, have been beyond impressive, and Malcome is a solid rusher in his own right, this is a bit slim on bodies should injuries occur. That is what makes adding at least one more strong option in the upcoming recruiting class so important, but if healthy, we have plenty of talent carrying the rock.
FB- Merritt Hall (So), Xander Olgetree (Sr), Quayvon Hicks (So)
Not much to say here, as 3 should be fine. Hall returns as a starter, where he'll fight Hicks and Ogletree for action. Ogletree has mostly been a special teamer, but has shown to be more than capable when lined up behind the QB, while Hicks has superior physical tools to Hall. It'll be hard to unseat the walk-on out of Atlanta though, so this spot should be set for a couple more years.
WR- Michael Bennett (Jr), Malcolm Mitchell (Jr), Chris Conley (Jr), Rantavious Wooten (Sr), Rhett McGowan (Sr), Blake Tibbs (So), Justin Scott-Wesley (So), Rico Johnson (Fr), Tramel Terry (Fr), Reggie Davis (Fr), Uriah Lemay (Fr)
The potential depth issue at RB is negated somewhat by the sheer size of the group at WR. There is a lot of talent in those 11 names. Bennett should be back if everything goes well, and Mitchell can be more focused on offense with an improved depth chart at CB going in to next season. Wooten and Conley have produced as well, as has the walk-on McGowan. Expect the youngsters to fill in behind and look to make plays with their speed, with Tramel Terry in particular being capable of making a big impact in his first year. But with an expanded group on the perimeter, we just might see a bit of Richt's old FSU offense spreading the field with lots of 3, 4, and sometimes even 5 wideout sets with lots of rotating and attacking down field.
TE- Arthur Lynch (Sr), Jay Rome (So), Ty Flornoy-Smith (So), Jordan Davis (Fr)
With the big senior Lynch returning, as well as his ultra athletic understudy Jay Rome (who for some reason wants to play hoops again this winter), things should be even better here. Flournoy-Smith will be further along in his development and ability to contribute, and Davis adds one more big, athletic body to the mix either redshirting or seeing the field if he proves worth it (more on Davis from MaconDawg can be found here). But expect a lions share of the action to be split between Lynch and Rome. We'd feel better if Rome spent the winter working on football instead of roundball, but Lynch has shown the blocking and soft hands to do an excellent job so this position should be a strength next year.
OT- Kenarious Gates (Sr), John Theus (So), Watts Dantzler (Jr), Xzavier Ward (So), Zach Debell (So), Aulden Bynum (Fr),
Kolton Houston? (Jr)
I'll channell my inner chuck, and say this is just not enough. He'd be right too, because we could use 1 or 2 more, and probably add at least one, if not two more highly thought of recruits to join Bynum in the 2013 class. Bynum almost certainly redshirts, as Gates and Theus return to start. Dantzler adds depth and should be ready to start if he can demand a job as a junior. Ward and Debell have been long, needing weight type projects who've yet to make much of an impact. While it'd be great to see one or both of the lanky lineman make an impact, it's possible one decides to move on for playing time. Still, returning every OL, we've got to finally have a solid unit in the trenches, don't we?
OG- Dallas Lee (Sr), Chris Burnette (Sr), Mark Beard (Jr), Austin Long (Sr), Hunter Long (So), Greg Pyke (rsFR), Brandon Kublanow (Fr)
Again, returning both starters, so we should be strong here. Beard provides quality depth, and if healthy, the Long brothers should do the same. Pyke is a big beast that is redshirting, while Kublanow is a similar beast that can hopefully be redshirted with the amount of experience coming back.
C- David Andrews (Jr), Josh Cardiello (Fr)
Return all 5 OL starters, plus Murray, Marshall and Gurley, plus our TEs, plus that bevy of speed and playmaking at WR? Next year could easily be one setting a LOT of records on offense. It's a little thin just looking at those two names, but Andrews has stepped in to the big bare feet Ben Jones left behind quite nicely, and we'll have two more years of him making the snaps. Cardiello looks like a strong backup, although like Kublanow and Bynum, we hope depth allows for a redshirt to get bigger, stronger, faster, smarter before taking on the big boys in the SEC trenches. Helping add depth here, Lee, Burnette, and Hunter Long, could also slide over from G to C if Andrews suffered an injury, so the thin depth isn't really that thin.
K/P/SN- Marshall Morgan (So), Collin Barber (So), Nathan Theus (So)
Morgan has been scary on extra points, but he's shown plenty of leg. Once he gets consistent and the freshman jitters out of the way, we should be blessed with one of the best kickers in the country going forward. Same goes for Barber, who has should be able to get more hang time and longer punts as he gets stronger, more mature physically, and used to SEC action. Theus was signed as a potential NFL caliber snapper. Ty Frix has made him an unused backup these last two years, but we're not expecting any problems here either. So this area should also be a strength, if we can get our coverage units to stop being sieves.
Nose- Kwame Geathers (Sr), Mike Thornton (Jr), Johnathan Taylor (rsFR), Moose Johnson (Fr)
Should Geathers decide to go pro, this could be a problem area. His play this year hasn't really warranted it, but the family history shows a strong understanding that you only have some many snaps in your body, and may as well get paid for them when you can. But if he returns, we've got our plug in the middle. He's huge, experienced, and able to control the inside. Thornton is a little used backup that can help across the DL. Taylor was a huge signee last February who's getting the benefit of a redshirt thanks to Kwame and John Jenkins. He may be more than capable of stepping in as the starter here, but without access to practice, we just don't know. The incoming signees are all bigger, potential nose types, so it's hard to say just which ones stay in the middle and who has the athleticism to play farther away from the center. Moose Johnson has a perfect nose tackle name though, so we are expecting big things from him in the future after a likely redshirt season (see more on him from Macon here).
DT- Garrison Smith (Sr), Ray Drew (Jr), Dexter Morant (Jr), Chris Mayes (So/Jr?), Sterling Bailey (So), John Atkins (Fr), James Deloach (So).
Smith and Drew look to be the likely starters to step up replacing Cornelius Washington and Abry Jones. Both have plenty of experience to go with the size and athleticism to do well in this spot. We're not sure if Mayes is redshirting this season at JUCO, as was rumored to be the possible plan preserving 3 years to play in Athens, but he has excellent physical tools, was strong in JUCO last year, and is hopefully enrolling early to be better prepared to play. Because we are going to need him. (Macon has more on Mayes here) He, like fellow incoming DL John Atkins (who is getting eligible at Hargrave Military Academy) could also end up at the nose, but with the depth outside I'm pencilling them in at DT. Sterling Bailey has been set back by injuries, and we move Deloach down from OLB because already listed at 270, he should outgrow the spot ala Drew and Bailey before him. Dexter Morant has struggled to get time at OLB, and with his size, he might also be a candidate to stick his hand in the ground and add much needed depth here. Adding one more in the signing class wouldn't be a bad idea, if we have room.
OLB- Jarvis Jones (Sr), Chase Vasser (Sr), TJ Stripling (Sr), Rueben Faloughi (Sr), Josh Dawson (So), Jordan Jenkins (So), Leonard Floyd (Fr), Naim Mustafaa (Fr), Shaun McGee (Fr)
While Jarvis certainly is ready to move on to the NFL, the man came back with a purpose (winning championships), and with this season looking like that might not happen, you never know if he wants to continue his pursuit. But we shouldn't expect it. Chase Vasser returns, and he could possibly slide to an inside spot if Jones did return, opening space for the impressive Jordan Jenkins. If Jones doesn't return, Jenkins has looked more than capable of stepping in and producing there. TJ Stripling has struggled with injury in his time in Athens, so not much can be expected from him. Josh Dawson has shown flashes in limited action, so he could join the battle for a starting spot with Jenkins. Leonard Floyd is reportedly tearing things up at Hargrave, so he might be another competitor for Jarvis Jones' job should the All American move on to greener fields. Naim Mustafaa and Shaun McGee join Floyd in this signing class. Both are savvy players who could benefit from a redshirt, but should be capable of contributing right away if need be. MaconDawg went over what he expects from McGee here. Grantham also cross trains his players, so like Vasser may help inside, some of the inside guys could help outside if that gets the best players on the field.
ILB- Alec Ogletree (Sr), Amarlo Herrera (Jr), Brandon Burrows (Jr), Kosta Valvas (Jr), Ramik Wilson (Jr), Josh Harvey-Clemons (So), Tim Kimbrough (Fr), Johnny O'Neal (Fr), Ryne Rankin (Fr), Reggie Carter (Fr)
Like Jones above, we have little belief Ogletree will still be in the locker room after the season, as he has more than enough NFL ability. But you never know, so there he is. If he is back, I'd expect him to allow for Josh Harvey-Clemons or Ramik Wilson to play OLB (or JHC to stay at S). Herrera has made several plays, and is a near lock for one of the two ILB spots. Assuming Ogletree is gone, we slide Josh Harvey-Clemons closer to the ball, as that seemed to be the plan. He could stay at S though, or play an OLB spot if that's where he fits best. Ramik Wilson has made plays in a backup role, and will likely be a front runner with JHC for the starting spot beside Herrera. Burrows has yet to get healthy enough to contribute, and may end up having to take a medical hardship, while walk-on Valvas has given solid work on special teams and in a back up role. As you can see, the staff made adding ILBs a priority in this signing class, and all 4 are well regarded play makers who could step in immediately as backups next year. Kimbrough, out of Indianapolis, and Dublin, Ga native O'Neal will get most of the hype as 4 star players on both scout and rivals who are physically ready to contribute right away.
CB- Damien Swann (Jr), Shelden Dawson (So), Devin Bowman (So), Steven Nelson (Jr/So?), Shaq Wiggins (Fr), JJ Green (Fr), Reggie Wilkerson (Fr)
Swann is improving every week as he takes a starting job over, and should be our top cover man next fall. Who starts opposite him, or in the nickel role, remains to be seen, and may not be on campus yet. Dawson and Bowman are providing depth right now, but neither has shown enough to make them certain starters. Nelson, who had to go to JUCO after Northside Warner Robins and committed this summer, may be redshirting to save an extra year of eligibility and also be enrolling early ala the DL Mayes. He could step in and start next year in Sanders Commings bigger, more physical CB role, but is visiting other schools right now and may not be truly "committed". Shaq Wiggins has been one of the bell cows for this class, and could be ready to step in to immediate playing time as well. Camden County's JJ Green and Florida product Reggie Wilkerson are also committed to join the Dawgs next year, and should help provide depth at CB if not redshirt.
S- Marc Deas (Jr), Corey Moore (Jr), Connor Norman (Jr), Shaq Fluker (Jr), Tray Matthews (Fr), Quincy Mauger (Fr), Paris Bostick (Fr)
We lose both starting safeties, so replacements were a priority in this signing class. Marc Deas has looked solid in special teams work, but not gotten much action on defense. Moore was expected to take over as the 3rd S behind Shaun Williams and Bacarri Rambo, but has not stepped up this year, leaving the walk-on Norman to fill in as a starter while Rambo and Commings were suspended. As said above, Josh Harvey-Clemons may be more needed at one of the S spots than he is at LB, so he might work in to the battle for a starting spot here. Right now, we'd pencil in (lightly) Moore to start at one spot. That leaves one open for a newcomer. Fluker, originally out of Meridan High School in Mississippi before heading to JUCO in his home state, is expected to enroll early, which should make him a lead candidate for that other starting spot. Newnan's Tray Matthews, who also plans on enrolling early to take part in spring practice, could be his primary competition for that spot, that is if they both don't beat out Moore, Deas, and Norman to be our starting pair. Mauger, out of Kell High School, and Bostick from Tampa's Plant High School (where Murray and Orson Charles also graduated from), should join the mix in fall and provide depth and special teams help. With the depth chart what it is, I doubt any of the 4 incoming signees redshirt.
Overview: So that's our preliminary look at your 2013 Dawgs. As said above, there will be multiple names mentioned that don't make it to August in Athens, but as it currently sits, that's a pretty good squad. A little thin defensively, especially on the DL, and for a unit that may return just 2 starters, there will be a lot of uncertainty on that side of the ball, but the youth stepping in to those voids are extremely talented and capable. And offensively, that juggernaut looks very potent if things pan out for the best, and potentially one of the best ever in Athens, if not the SEC or nationally.