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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Dawgs of the Decade: The Tight Ends

Through a decade of success, there have been plenty of players who have made their mark in a Georgia uniform, and for the next two weeks, The Telegraph will be giving you the chance to vote on your picks for the Bulldogs’ All-Decade team for the 2000s. We’ll go position-by-position, and you’ll pick the winners by going to www.macon.com/decade to vote.

Our fourth ballot is for Georgia’s top tight end of the decade, and the nominees are:

(Note: Years as Georgia’s starting tight end in parentheses)

Randy McMichael (1999-2001). An All-SEC selection in 2001, McMichael’s early career was plagued by injuries but ended with two strong seasons in the 2000s. In 2000, he caught 32 passes for 475 yards, second in the SEC among tight ends, and wrapped up his season with a stellar 12-catch, 156-yard game against Georgia Tech – one of the best single-game performances by a tight end this decade for the Dawgs and the third-most receptions by any Georgia player in a single game in history. In 2001, he added 24 catches for 281 yards, including a 6-catch, 108-yard day against Tennessee in the first signature victory of the Mark Richt era. He went on to be a fourth-round draft pick by the Miami Dolphins and now plays with the St. Louis Rams.

Ben Watson (2002-2003). After transferring from Duke, Watson was more than ready to continue the tradition of strong tight ends at Georgia. Backing up McMichael in 2001, he picked up 187 yards and a TD. A year later, he was the main man and lived up to his top billing with 31 catches, 341 yards and three touchdowns en route to an SEC title. His numbers took a small step back his senior season in 2003 – 23 catches, 234 yards and 1 TD – but he earned a second-team All-SEC nod and was selected in the first round of the NFL draft by the New England Patriots, where he went on to win a Super Bowl. He finished his career at Georgia with 65 receptions for 852 yards and six touchdowns.

Leonard Pope (2004-2005). Before the hybrid tight end became the norm among high-flying offenses, it was Pope’s 6-foot-5 frame and exceptional athleticism that made him one of the most feared receivers in the SEC. Pope took home first-team All-SEC honors both of his years as a starter. His sophomore season, Pope picked up where Watson left off with 25 catches and 482 yards and six touchdowns including an impressive two-TD performance in a win over Florida. As a junior in 2005, Pope finished 11th in the SEC in receiving yards, hauling in 39 passes for 541 yards – the high mark among Georgia receivers – and helping the Bulldogs to an SEC title. He finished his career at Georgia with 65 catches and 1,044 yards and was taken in the third round by the Arizona Cardinals after his junior year.

So, who gets your vote? Go to www.macon.com/decade to cast your ballot or vote in our previous categories, and be sure to pick up a copy of the December 27th issue of The Telegraph to find out the winners.


And don't forget to leave your comments here on the blog. Tell us about why you made your selection and your favorite memories of those players, and your comments could appear in our final results issue of The Telegraph.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

leonard pope is closer to 6'8". FYI.

rbubp said...

Yes, and he was not actually very athletic. Stiff as a board, though his hand were good enough. He was huge.

Jason said...

Pope was waaay under utilized :(