This has been a fairly predictable fall camp so far, in both good and bad ways. The good? Matt Stafford looks like a vocal leader and is more in control of the offense. Thomas Brown continues his flea impersonation in returning from a torn ACL (rigid exoskeleton, ability to jump 400 times the length of his body and lift 300 times his own body weight, etc.). The bad? The defense is young. The offensive line is younger. Mistakes. Busted plays. Mayhem.
But that's not to say it has been a fall bereft of surprising performers. Munsonites be damned, I'm choosing to focus on the positive surprises. Now, some of these may not surprise you. You may have seen these guys from 12 miles down the track.
I'm also not listing performers whom I was not surprised by that others might have found shocking. For example, I'm not surprised that Reshad Jones is looking at significant playing time because he was jacking people up as early as the first few days of spring ball. I'm also not surprised that Rennie Curran is in line for playing time among the linebackers. We had a need for speedy, sure tacklers and he fit it to a tee. Trinton Sturdivant? Also not surprising because he was the starter coming out of spring drills.
Mind you, I'm only choosing the top surprises of the fall because it is way, way early to be naming the legends of the fall. To everything there is a season.
With no further ado, the top three surprising performers in my book (in no particular order) are:
1) Bruce Figgins. He'll be playing tight end and might even start. I thought we got a steal when we signed Figgins, and even said in one of the first TMI recruiting pieces that he would fight for playing time with Coleman Watson because of his physique and blocking ability. But I had no idea he'd play this early, or be this high up on the depth chart. Coleman Watson appears to be 3rd string, behind Duke Ward. I have nothing against Coleman, but after being selected an AJC Super 11 player coming out of high school, his college career has been quite underwhelming. I still wonder what would have happened had he been moved to offensive tackle, and have to believe that things may have worked out better for him (and the team) if that had happened.
2) Vance Cuff. Not to beat a dead horse here, but it's not every day a guy shows up the day before fall practice starts and works himself into the rotation at a position where the team has six guys with playing experience returning. This is partially a result of RaMarcus Brown not doing all the things he was supposed to do (though he did miss a family wedding to attend practice last week). But still, impressive.
3) Thomas Flowers. I thought long and hard about this one, and there were a lot of other possibilities. Clint Boling, Tony Wilson and Michael Moore among others. There are really a lot of guys who appear to have stepped to the forefront. But Flowers gets my vote because a) he seemed to have been forgotten about in the rush to corinate Prince Miller, Asher Allen and Reshad Jones the future of our cornerback corps, b) he's suffered suspensions and injuries that by all rights should have kept him squarely in the doghouse and off the field, and c) he's just not physically imposing or overhyped. You could easily forget that Thomas Flowers is on the team, were it not for the fact he'll be starting at corner for your Georgia Bulldogs on September 1st. I'm just hazarding a guess, but I think this has a lot to do with experience. And it might change over the course of the season as the guys behind him get more game time. But I said the same thing two years ago about Tra Battle, and I was oh so wrong.
So who has surprised you, DawgSports readers?