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Friday, May 21, 2010

Five Dawgs Who Could Surprise

Yesterday Georgia announced it had placed five players on Phil Steele's All-America teams and 14 on his All-SEC teams. That's a pretty impressive tally, putting the Bulldogs on par with reigning national champ Alabama.

But while having 14 players make Steele's All-SEC teams, here's my question: Could there be more by season's end?

With that said, here are five players who didn't make Steele's preseason list who I think could turn into All-SEC caliber performers by year's end.

5. Branden Smith. If things fall right, Smith could find his name on the All-SEC teams twice at year's end. He's in line to earn a significant amount of time at corner -- and possibly the starting job -- and as a five-star recruit with blazing speed, there's no reason to think he won't develop into a legit playmaker. He could also end up returning punts this season and, if he avoids the fumbling problems he had last year, could turn in a Brandon Boykin-esque performance.

4. Akeem Dent. Last year was a lost one for Dent, but he made some nice strides in 2008 and appears to be fully healthy for 2010. He's the veteran leader of the linebacking corps, and he'll be counted on heavily in Todd Grantham's 3-4 defense. If he can turn in the type of senior season he's capable of having, that would be huge news for both Dent's future prospects in the NFL and for Georgia's defense as a whole.

3. Tavarres King. Perhaps Kris Durham should be here instead. Or maybe Marlon Brown or Rantavious Wooten. But someone is going to be the beneficiary of all the attention A.J. Green gets, which means there will be plenty of opportunities for another WR to step up and turn in a strong season.

2. Abry Jones. Any kid that impresses Rodney Garner within a few weeks of arriving on campus as a true freshman has to have something going for him. Jones is strong and fast and could be a force as a pass rusher in the 3-4. How well he holds up against the run as part of the new-look D line will likely be what defines his sophomore campaign, but the potential is definitely there.

1. Cornelius Washington. Justin Houston's inclusion on Steele's first-team All-SEC list was well deserved, but Washington -- the other starting OLB -- is going to be given a chance to shine this year, too. For one, his skill set makes him a perfect fit at OLB, whereas he was a bit out of place in the more traditional DE in a 4-3. Secondly, Houston had such a strong 2009 season that he'll have to command more attention from the opposition, which could help free things up for Washington. The sophomore showed flashes last season, had an excellent G-Day performance, and I'll be shocked if he doesn't become a consistent threat as a pass rusher in 2010.

I should probably also include Caleb King on this list, but I'm guessing Phil Steele essentially flipped a coin on Georgia's running backs and went with Washaun Ealey as his rep. Odds are only one of the two will make an All-SEC team, but the chances are strong for either one. And, if by chance both prove to be All-SEC worthy by year's end, there's probably a good chance Georgia will be playing for an SEC title, too.

So… who do you think might also step up and surprise?


SECC in '10...Please said...

Good list. I think Durham and Vance Cuff could have big years. Two guys in their final go around.

Ubiquitous GA Alum said...

Although they won't make any post season lists, Kiante Tripp & Arthur Lynch will impress. Tripp will provide quality minutes and likely found himself in the regular rotation on D-line. Lynch only makes about 5 catches for the season but at least 3 of them will be for TDs. He'll also level some poor LB at the goal line as Washun skips in for a score.

Anonymous said...

Unless one of them starts getting the vast majority of the snaps early in the season, I doubt either King or Ealey will rack up enough yards and TD's to merit all-SEC consideration. The said, their combined stats should be very good by year end.

jferg said...

I'd take Washaun over King too. He's just....better.

I'd suggest Nick Williams will make the list. He is poised for a breakout year and his hard-hitting will get the attention of many opposing WRs and RBs (and coaches and announcer, you get the drift).

And possibly another TE. We could definitely have the two TE's on steele's 2-deep--especially if we run the two-TE sets that we all hope will be run...Aron White is good, Bruce Figgins could be a beast again, and Artie could surprise. Should be fun.

Anonymous said...

Branden is a very exciting player and could well be a breakout player. If he is to realize his potential he will have to get a better grip on the ball. Turnovers while running flatout is all that will stop him from a big time career in both college and the pros. He should hold that ball like it is dollar bills because fumbles will cost him a lot of them. Neither UGA nor the pros can risk fumbles on kickoffs no better how good the runner is. Focus Branden!