As a constructive means of dealing with the emotional torment that has plagued me since the Dawgs’ loss in the SEC Championship Game, I figured I’d provide a personal prognosis of what I expect the 2013 squad to look like. Please feel free to provide your thoughts in the comments.
Ray Drew, Junior, #47
Drew has performed admirably in helping plug the hole left by the injury to Abry Jones this season. I expect him to continue his development in 2013 and emerge as the Pollack-esque player we all thought he’d be when he signed with Georgia in 2011. He doesn’t wear #47 for nothing, folks.
Garrison Smith, Senior, #56
Like Drew, Smith has really stepped up in the absence of Abry Jones. The only thing keeping Smith from getting a serious look from the NFL at the moment is his lack of playing time earlier on in the season. His draft stock will improve exponentially when he dominates SEC offensive lines for the entirety of his senior season.
Jonathan Taylor, Redshirt Freshman, #94
ESPN’s draft guru Mel Kiper thinks that Kwame Geathers will be a solid second- or third-round pick if he forgoes his senior season at Georgia. I think that might be enough for the big man to do exactly that. Fortunately for the Dawgs, Jonathan Taylor is a physical specimen who has gained the confidence of Coach Grantham and should be ready to start.
Jordan Jenkins, Sophomore, #59
Let's face it: Jarvis Jones is leaving early. Jenkins, a force in his true-freshman campaign, will fill Jones's gigantic shoes well. One of the crown jewels of the 2012 recruiting class, Jenkins learned from Jones this season and will carry the torch in 2013 as the OLB who gives opposing QBs nightmares. Here’s hoping Florida fans have Cocktail Party nightmares about this JJ for the next few years.
Chase Vasser, Senior, #33
Vasser played well opposite Jarvis Jones this season when he wasn’t suspended or injured. I think he will go into 2013 with something to prove and have an outstanding senior season. I also expect soon-to-be sophomore Josh Dawson to get some work at OLB in 2013. He spent the bulk of his time on special teams last season but impressed when given the shot at his future position.
Amarlo Herrera, Junior, #52
An animal with a motor and a whole-hearted endorsement from Shawn Williams, Herrera will be among the brightest stars on the Georgia defense next season. The only reason you didn’t hear his name more in 2012 was the play of Alec Ogletree, who will likely go in the first 10 picks in the draft.
Ramik Wilson, Junior, #51
Consistent playing time will serve Wilson well and I am confident that he will be an impact player for the Dawgs in 2013. He is a good tackler with a nose for the ball.
Damian Swann, Junior, #5
Swann will continue his development as one of Georgia’s best defensive backs and will emerge as the leader of this unit in 2013. He’s both a ball hawk and a tough tackler which are invaluable qualities for the position. Sophomore Sheldon Dawson will see some playing time in 2013, too.
Devin Bowman, Redshirt Sophomore, #37
Even though he looked shaky filling in for Sanders Commings in the Missouri game, Bowman seems to have gained some confidence with consistent play on special teams this season. I see him getting the nod based on experience.
Corey Moore, Junior, #39
I expected Moore to be a better-known name by this point, but playing behind Shawn Williams tends to keep a guy off the field. He’ll get his shot in 2013 and will perform well so long as Georgia fans don’t expect him to be Williams incarnate.
Josh Harvey-Clemons, Sophomore, #25
Although he was recruited as a linebacker, I expect Harvey-Clemons to get the nod at free safety as he spent the bulk of his freshman camp training at the position in the absence of Bacarri Rambo. Depth is still a bit of a concern at safety which is not necessarily an issue at linebacker. Thankfully for Coach Grantham, Harvey-Clemons has the athleticism to excel at either position.
David Andrews, Junior, #61
Who wasn’t impressed by the play of Andrews this season? With the departure of Ben Jones, I was terrified about the center position. Andrews impressed me more than words can express and he will continue to do so in his junior year.
Chris Burnette, Senior, #68
Like Andrews, Burnette really stepped it up in 2012. I expect more of the same from him in 2013: consistent, disciplined play.
Dallas Lee, Senior, #64
Same story for Lee. The offensive line exceeded expectations in 2012 and Lee was one of the main reasons why. Who can forget his punishing block on the Alabama nose guard in the SEC Championship Game?
Kenarious Gates, Senior, #72
I expect Gates to be the leader of this unit in 2013. Since he switched his commitment from Kentucky in 2010, he has done well in keeping defenders away from Aaron Murray, lightening the blow from the loss of Cordy Glenn.
John Theus, Sophomore, #71
Boy, did Theus have a rough transition to SEC football in his first few games! I gave him a pass because a lot was asked of this true freshman and he did anything but shy away from the challenge. Theus has settled in the role nicely and is already a top lineman for the Dawgs. The scary thing is he will only be a sophomore next season.
Aaron Murray, Redshirt Senior, #11
Something tells me Aaron Murray will come back to lead the offense one more time. Mel Kiper has the same notion. Murray exactly the kind of player who would point to the disappointment stemming from the 2012 SEC Championship Game as a means for shredding defenses in a stellar 2013 senior campaign. If Murray does decide to go pro after his junior year, redshirt junior Hutson Mason will be waiting in the wings for his shot at glory. A phenomenal running game and experienced offensive line will only help Mason’s cause. Either way, I’m really not too worried about this position.
Todd Gurley, Sophomore, #3
After years of searching, signing, suspending and dismissing, Gurley (and fellow true freshman Keith Marshall) provided the breath of fresh air Georgia so desperately needed in the 2012 backfield. Gurley is not only a phenomenal back, he’s a model citizen. If not for the emergence of Heisman-winner Johnny Football, we’d have ourselves another SEC Freshman of the Year. Gurley will rack up greater honors in his career at Georgia and his sophomore season will be the first step to achieving that goal.
Zander Ogletree, Senior, #46
Although Merritt Hall got most of the starts at fullback this season, I see Ogletree, suspended earlier in the season, getting back in the coaches’ good graces and winning the starting spot for 2013. I have nothing against Hall, but I couldn’t help but notice the coaches actually utilized the fullback position when Ogletree was in there. I think Coach Bobo will see this and put Tree Two to work next season. He can block, he can run and he can catch short passes. Remember the Florida game?
Christian Conley, Junior, #31
Conley has done nothing but answer the call in his time as a Dawg. With Tavarres King headed for the NFL after a stellar senior season, Conley will step up and become one of Mason’s go-to guys in 2013. I also expect to see more of Justin Scott-Wesley and Rantavious Wooten at flanker next season.
Michael Bennett, Redshirt Junior, #82
Bennett will be back from an ACL injury and should be on the warpath in 2013. I expect him not only to pick up where he left off as a clutch third-down pair of hands, but to get even stronger as the season goes on, perhaps even figuring into the Biletnikoff conversation by season’s end.
Arthur Lynch, Senior, #88
Although Lynch will face some serious competition from Jay Rome in camp for the starting spot, I suspect he’ll get the nod based on his edge in blocking ability. One thing Rome does have on Lynch, in my opinion, is better hands. I therefore suspect to see them platooning a good bit in 2013 with Rome being in the driver’s seat for 2014.
These are just the predictions of one Dawg fan based on what he’s seen and heard heading into what could be another great season (provided we get through that September gauntlet!) between the hedges. What do you think? Who else should we expect to earn/challenge for a starting spot for 2013?
Note: I failed to mention any incoming recruits as none of them are even on campus yet. Let's take a look at how they will fit into the picture after signing day.