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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Spring practice position battles

Or maybe skirmishes is a better way of putting it. The recruiting haul for the Georgia football program last month takes a bit of the suspense out of spring football practice, which begins Thursday.

Some starting spots may be decided, but a lot will be in a holding pattern. For instance, John Jenkins should be the starting nose tackle unless he shows up in May looking like he’s been hanging out with Charlie Sheen.

If I were guessing, and I am because it's my right as an American, I would pencil in the following starting spots:

QB Aaron Murray, WR Tavarres King, TE Orson Charles and Aron White, LT Trinton Sturdivant, C Ben Jones, RT Cordy Glenn, DE DeAngelo Tyson, NT John Jenkins, OLB Jarvis Jones, ILB Christian Robinson, CB Brandon Boykin, S Bacarri Rambo, K Blair Walsh, P Drew Butler. Alec Ogletree is also a heavy favorite at ILB, unless he has trouble adjusting to the position.

That leaves the following competitions:

Washaun Ealey vs. Caleb King vs. Ken Malcome vs. Carlton Thomas: That’s the order I would put them in entering practice … but there’s a guy still attending high school in Columbus I’d put ahead of all of them. Still, Richt left the door open for one of the returning tailbacks to “hold off the young pup." (I assume he meant Isaiah Crowell, not the actual puppy Crowell held up at his signing ceremony.)

So with Ealey reinstated, King academically eligible, and Malcome not able to redshirt, all of these guys will be given a chance to show that all the eggs don’t have to be put in the Crowell basket. (Sorry for the cliche', but sometimes it's the best way of putting it.)

Christian LeMay vs. Hutson Mason: The team has the luxury of three scholarship quarterbacks this spring, so ideally the team will be able to redshirt LeMay or Mason. It’s not clear the “winner” of this position battle will actually play next fall; but with Logan Gray gone, the spring and preseason camp will be spent deciding which is more ready to play if something happens to Murray.

Bruce Figgins vs. Zander Ogletree: The fullback position is wide open, and Richt seemed excited by the idea of Figgins, the converted tight end, in the backfield. But can he carry the ball? Ogletree has experience, but only one year of it, and doesn’t bring Figgins’ size. The Bulldogs also have Cameron Allen, Dustin Royston and Matt Sweat.

Marlon Brown vs. the pack: I wouldn’t regard receiver as a fierce position fight, considering anybody in the two-deep will see snaps. But with Tavarres King the favorite for one starting spot, the coaches seem to want Brown to be the No. 2 if he can show dependability. If not, Israel Troupe, Rantavious Wooten, Michael Bennett and early enrollee Chris Conley are around. And then Malcolm Mitchell comes this summer.

A bunch of people at guard:
The tackle and center positions are basically set, and Kenarious Gates is the leading candidate to start at one of the guard spots. So that leaves a slew of guys who will try to prove they belong: Brent Benedict (6-5, 301, R-Fr.), Chris Burnette (6-2, 300, R-Soph.), A.J. Harmon (6-5, 320, Jr.), Kolton Houston (6-5, 291, R-Fr.), Dallas Lee (6-4, 300, R-Soph.) and Austin Long (6-5, 302, R-Soph.) and Justin Anderson (6-5, 326, R-Sr.) New offensive line coach Will Friend will have plenty of choices.

Kwame Geathers vs. himself at nose tackle: DeAngelo Tyson has moved to end and Anderson back to offense, so who’s left? Mike Thornton, who redshirted as a freshman, will get a look. But it’s clear that Geathers will have every chance to show he deserves snaps in the fall, or at least be the top backup to Jenkins.

A bunch of people at edge rusher: I feel more comfortable calling it that rather than slotting specific people at OLB and DE, at least as far as the uncertain starters. (Jarvis Jones seems set at OLB and Tyson at one DE spot.) Cornelius Washington seems a favorite at OLB, but he has to have a good spring because Ray Drew will be arriving in the summer. Abry Jones and Derrick Lott will compete at DE, but Garrison Smith could be a factor too, as could Washington if he slides down to the line. And Dexter Morant and T.J. Stripling, who won’t participate in spring practice, will get a chance if healthy by the preseason.

Alec Ogletree vs. the field at ILB: I think Ogletree has the job if he shows he can handle the transition. But Mike Gilliard and Richard Samuel would like to make a case.

Sanders Commings vs. Branden Smith and others: Commings is the heavy favorite by virtue of his size and having started nine times last year. Still, this is more of a playing time battle, what with all the nickel and dime coverages the Bulldogs will employ. Jordan Love, Derek Owens and Blake Sailors will be factors. And everyone needs to play well, because a slew of top recruits (Damian Swann, Nick Marshall, etc.) arrive soon.

Jakar Hamilton vs. Shaun Williams and Marc Deas: Ogletree’s shift to linebacker gives a second life to all these guys. But continuing the theme, they need to show that incoming freshmen Corey Moore and Chris Sanders won’t be needed.


stevo said...

Seth- what do you think of Commings moving to safety? He has the body type to add a few pounds and with his speed, could add a dimension to the position. It just seems with Marshal and Mitchell coming in, that there will be much more talent in the corner position than safety.

Anonymous said...

any word on if the offense is considering using Jenkins as a "4th and inches" back to ram through defenses once he gets here?

Anonymous said...

Stevo, Mitchell will be playing WR...Maybe you meant Swann?