Every season around this time we start thinking about all the football players whose Bulldog careers are coming to a close. But let's also take a moment to think about those whose day in the sun is only just arriving.
Someone, usually me, says it every January. "I just don't think we have anybody to replace ______." But the fact is that even all-conference players are far more replaceable in the long term that we like to admit. Bowl practice is a good time for the coaches to figure out who will step into which shoes in 2013. Some serial prognosticators are already tabbing Georgia for another top ten season, but that won't happen without somebody stepping in for the guys who are stepping out.
The Bulldog defense will lose as many as 9 starters and several contributors, including Jarvis Jones, Bacarri Rambo, Alec Ogletree, Abry Jones, Cornelius Washington, Mike Gilliard, Christian Robinson, Shawn Williams, and John Jenkins. I hate to break it to Bulldog fans, but there's never been a recruiting class in the history of college football that could replace that much talent in one swipe. If the Bulldog defense is to be even passable, it will take breakout efforts from guys already on campus.
Luckily there are candidates. Corey Moore has begun to see time at safety. Ray Drew seemed to advance when forced to step in for the injured Jones at defensive end. Ramik Wilson has looked good in spots but struggled to get many snaps in a loaded linebacking corps. Damian Swann and Sheldon Dawson each improved as the 2012 campaign wore on, and may be ready to step into the limelight in 2013. Maybe a redshirted freshman like Jonathan Taylor will get an opportunity and make the most of it.
So my question for you Dawg Sports readers on this cold, rainy Christmas Eve is this: who do you think will be a breakout performer for Mark Richt in 2013, and why? Here's wishing you a very merry holiday season.