I know, baseball is getting started, basketball is moving inexorably toward its mortal conclusion and you've still got to get over to Waldenbooks to reserve your copy of the March issue of New York Magazine. But all that stuff can wait. Right now, it's only 13 days until Coach Mark Richt leads his Georgia Bulldogs out onto the field for the start of spring practice. And while most of the spring story lines are at least superficially familiar, we here at Dawgsports have never covered anything in a manner which is merely "superficial". No, we believe in giving you more information than Britton Colquitt can shake a bottle at. It is for this reason that we bring you The 'Dawgs of Spring, a look at some of the players to watch when the University of Georgia's 2008 football season kicks off.
The first 'Dawg of Spring is Jeremy Lomax. When last we saw J-Lo, he and Marcus Howard were thrashing Colt Brennan in a manner not seen in the Hawaiian islands since Kalakaua signed the Bayonet Constitution. Howard of course found his raison d'etre in last season's Sugar Bowl, much like fellow undersized but beloved 'Dawg Tra Battle found his in the 2006 Auburn game.
Lomax has yet to experience such a signature moment during his Bulldog career. He came to Athens in 2004 as a weakside defensive end out of Lovejoy High School who needed to grow into his 6'4 frame. That continued through a redshirt season in 2004. In 2005 he played in four games before succumbing to a season ending ankle injury against Mississippi State. In 2006 he saw action in nine games, highlighted by a sack and 3 tackles against UAB. Finally, toward the end of 2007, Lomax began to shine as a pass rusher, recording sacks against Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Auburn and Georgia Tech. In the end he had 4 and 1/2 sacks and 16 tackles, not bad given limited playing time behind Howard.
Lomax will be competing with redshirt freshman Neland Ball for the starting rush end spot (potentially along with Michael Lemon or Justin Houston), and opposite Rod Battle, who probably has the buck end spot locked up absent a push from Jarius Wynn. Jeremy didn't come to Athens as a 5-star, can't miss guy. But he has turned into a solid contributor who could emerge during the course of his senior season. This year will be the last chance for Lomax to show that he can be a durable, every down defender in the SEC. Our chances of an SEC Championship would definitely be enhanced if he shows he can be counted on, especially against the run.
If that's the case, it will continue Coach Fabris's long running streak of getting excellent play out of guys who should be merely marginal. From Will Thompson to David Pollock, Quentin Moses to Marcus Howard, few coaches have been better at achieving optimal results than Coach Fab. In addition to helping the 'Dawgs as a senior, this could also be an audition for Lomax to show that his 6'4, 245 pound frame can work in a 3-4 NFL scheme, or as a passrushing DE in the pro game.
I'll be back tomorrow with more on the players to keep an eye on this spring. Until then . . .