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Though all the attention has been focused on Todd Grantham's new 3-4 front, the secondary has been the biggest symbol of the Georgia defense's precipitous decline over the last few years, going from second in the SEC and fifth nationally in pass defense in 2006 to ninth and 51st, respectively, in '09. Statistically, last year was a big improvement for the Dawgs' secondary under new DBs coach Scott Lakatos -- they finished 17th in the nation, allowing only 181 yards per game -- but a lot of that had to do with a generally lackluster class of quarterbacks in the SEC. A series of coverage breakdowns on third down means that this unit still has some work to do.
PROJECTED DEPTH CHART
1. Bacarri Rambo (6'0", 210), RJr.
2. Jakar Hamilton (6'2", 203), Sr.
3. Corey Moore (6'1", 195), Fr.
1. Alec Ogletree (6'3", 224), Soph.
2. Shawn Williams (6'1", 213), Jr.
3. Chris Sanders (6'1", 176), Fr.
CORNERBACK (STRONG SIDE)
1. Brandon Boykin (5'10", 180), Sr.
2. Branden Smith (5'11", 175), Jr.
3. Damian Swann (6'0", 175), Fr.
CORNERBACK (WEAK SIDE)
1. Sanders Commings (6'2", 210), RJr.
2. Jordan Love (6'0", 185), RSoph.
3. Derek Owens (5'9", 166), Soph.
Who's coming back. Time for some good news: All four starters in the secondary -- safeties Bacarri Rambo and Alec Ogletree and corners Brandon Boykin and Sanders Commings -- are back for 2010. Not only that, but their backups (Jakar Hamilton, Shawn Williams, Branden Smith and Jordan Love, respectively) are returning as well. This is as experienced a two-deep as the Dawgs have had in quite a while.
Who's not. Of the DBs on Georgia's 2010 roster who saw regular playing time on defense (as opposed to being a special-teams role player), only cornerback Vance Cuff will be moving on. Rising senior safety Nick Williams is expected to transfer due to the crowd at his position.
Who's new. Georgia's blockbuster 2011 recruiting class included no fewer than seven DBs, and while one of them (blue-chipper Malcolm Mitchell) is being talked about as a potential WR sleeper, several of the others have a shot at working their way into backup roles over the summer. The ones most frequently mentioned are Corey Moore and Chris Sanders, both of whom could help shore up a so-so depth situation at safety; Nick Marshall, a converted quarterback, could figure into that mix as well. Cornerback Damian Swann will need some time to bulk up a bit when he arrives in Athens, but he was rated the No. 5 prospect in the state by Rivals and was pursued by big-name programs from Florida to Oklahoma to USC, so don't be surprised if you start hearing his name over the summer, too.
Outlook. The Dawgs' pass defense made a big statistical improvement in 2010, and every single player on the two-deep returns. That's about as good a situation as Scott Lakatos could ask for, and yet there are still some big questions that need to be answered. Among them: Can the Dawgs lock down against a good quarterback (and if so, can they do it without incurring a hailstorm of pass-interference penalties)? It's all well and good to handle QBs such as Matt Simms and Larry Smith, but if the Ryan Malletts, Mike Hartlines and Cam Newtons of the world are still carpet-bombing you -- just for comparison's sake, those three combined for 881 yards and a 9-2 TD-INT ratio on 60-for-91 passing against the Dawgs last year -- it's clear there's work left to be done.
Complicating matters is the fact that the player who should be the leader of this unit, junior safety Bacarri Rambo, took a puzzling step back last year after a breakout performance in 2009. It's looking like he may be moved over to strong safety while Alec Ogletree, a blue-chip true freshman who quickly worked his way into a starting role last year, takes the free spot. Rambo probably doesn't have to worry about surrendering his starting status at this point -- his backup, Jakar Hamilton, lived up to his "Hitman" nickname in the opener against Louisiana-Lafayette and effectively disappeared after that -- but it does mean that new recruit Corey Moore, whose speed and athleticism may put him in the "too valuable to redshirt" category, will be afforded plenty of opportunities to state his case for playing time.
Things look a little more settled at the cornerback spot, where Sanders Commings was impressive in his first year as a starter. Backups Jordan Love and Derek Owens saw enough playing time last year that Dawg fans should feel fairly confident about this position's continued progress, but depending on how his summer goes, Damian Swann could be another one of those freshmen who's just too good to leave on the bench. As for the rest of the 2011 recruiting class, Devin Bowman and Quintavious Harrow are likely redshirt candidates at the moment; an intriguing question mark is Nick Marshall, a two-way player who may be tapped for a special-teams role early on but with more opportunities coming available as he beings to prove himself on the field.
Georgia's defensive line struggled in 2010 but looks fairly well-stocked with reinforcements heading into 2011. The linebacking corps finds itself in the opposite situation: They actually had a pretty decent year in 2010, gradually getting comfortable with their new role as the engine behind the defense's QB pressure, but loses a wealth of talent and experience. Other than the RBs, no single corps of players on Georgia's roster is as likely to see contributions from the '11 recruiting class as the linebackers are.
PROJECTED DEPTH CHART
INSIDE LINEBACKER (WEAK SIDE)
1. Jarvis Jones (6'3", 234), RSoph.
2. Richard Samuel (6'2", 234), Sr.
3. Michael Gilliard (6'2", 225), Jr.
INSIDE LINEBACKER (STRONG SIDE)
1. Christian Robinson (6'2", 217), RJr.
2. Amarlo Herrera (6'1", 224), Fr.
3. Kent Turene (6'3", 230), Fr.
Who's coming back. Christian Robinson and Cornelius Washington had both put hammerlocks on starting positions by the end of last season; they return along with a couple of Washington's backups, Reuben Faloughi and Chase Vasser. Converted running back Richard Samuel and Michael Gilliard are familiar faces at ILB, and both will be in the mix for playing time, if not the starting job. On the outside, T.J. Stripling returns as a sentimental favorite after an ugly knee injury suffered at Colorado ended his 2010 season prematurely.
Who's not. Five of the top six tacklers in the LB corps are gone, headlined by sack impresario Justin Houston, who surprised exactly no one by foregoing his senior season to take a shot at a likely first-round pick in the NFL Draft. Also departed are graduating seniors Akeem Dent, Darryl Gamble and Akeem Hebron, as well as junior Marcus Dowtin, who left the team under dicey circumstances in January.
Who's new. The headliner of the rookie class is certainly Ray Drew, an ordained reverend from Thomasville who put his preaching skills to work urging other recruits to join him on Georgia's "Dream Team" after committing in late January. The Dawgs, however, will be more interested in his tackling skills, particularly since he's been pegged as the heir apparent to Justin Houston. Fellow Dream Teamers Amarlo Herrera and Kent Turene also have a decent shot at playing time thanks to shaky depth on the inside. But don't forget about Jarvis Jones, a Columbus prospect the Dawgs missed out on in 2009, only to get him back when he announced he was transferring from USC. Jones sat out 2010 due to the NCAA's transfer rules, which gave him plenty of time to fully heal up from the neck injury that keyed his departure from the Trojans.
Outlook. Robinson and Washington performed well enough last year that they can expect to maintain their starting positions on the depth chart in 2011. Beyond that, not much is certain, and while there's tons of raw talent on this roster, there's precious little experience. At least at this point, Ray Drew and Jarvis Jones seem to have the inside line on the other two starting positions, though it's fair to say that this is based more on their lofty reputations as recruits than anything they've done on a college field -- Drew, of course, will be a true freshman, whereas Jones had a promising freshman season at USC but only got seven games under his belt before a neck sprain took him out of commission for the rest of the season. There is massive pressure on both players to perform, particularly Drew, who is angling to become the first freshman Mark Richt has ever started at linebacker -- and having to fill Justin Houston's shoes in the process.
Because of a shaky depth situation across the board, though, Drew might not be the only 2011 recruit to make a strong bid for playing time. Either Amarlo Herrera and Kent Turene, the former a four-star prospect, could earn the job of being Robinson's backup by the time the season starts. At the other inside spot, Richard Samuel has reportedly looked good in practice, but it's important to remember he's never played a down of actual game time at this position (he redshirted last year after being moved over from running back).
Of course, the end positions should see a fair bit of rotation, as defensive coordinator Todd Grantham loves to mix in 4-3 alignments with his standard 3-4 set; Drew, who played defensive end in high school, has already indicated he's excited about playing a potential hybrid LB/DE position for the Dawgs, and fellow '11 DE recruit Sterling Bailey may figure into this mix as well. One thing, though, is clear -- with the unit still adapting to its new roles in Grantham's defense, he and new inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti will need as many warm bodies as they can get.
The Georgia defensive line's first year in Todd Grantham's 3-4 alignment was the dictionary definition of "feast or famine." Against teams with poor rushing attacks, they locked down hard, but found themselves shredded by Florida's spread, Georgia Tech's triple-option and, of course, one-man wrecking crews such as Marcus Lattimore and Cam Newton. Last year, of course, Grantham didn't have quite the personnel mix he needed to make it all come together like clockwork; Dawg fans will be watching closely this spring to see if that's changed.
PROJECTED DEPTH CHART
1. Johnathon Jenkins (6'4", 340), Jr.
2. Kwame Geathers (6'6", 325), RSoph.
3. Justin Anderson (6'5", 326), Sr.
Who's coming back. DeAngelo Tyson is probably the most experienced returning player on the entire line, but he'll be making a blessed return to defensive end after a sophomore season spent trying to provide a warm (and large) body at nose tackle. His understudies at nose, Kwame Geathers and Justin Anderson, will remain at that position; his counterpart at the opposite end, Abry Jones, is also a returning starter. Behind them, Derrick Lott, Garrison Smith and Jeremy Longo all saw very limited action in 2010.
Who's new. You know that mountain-sized nose tackle that Grantham's defensive system so desperately needed? Well, it looks like they've found him in Johnathon Jenkins, a Connecticut native who arrives at Georgia by way of Mississippi Gulf Coast Junior College. By virtue of his size and agility, Jenkins probably had the starting nose tackle position locked up the minute he declared for the Dawgs. Georgia only signed two other linemen in the 2011 recruiting class, but one of them, four-star prospect Sterling Bailey, has the speed and athleticism to work his way onto the depth chart as a true freshman. The other, tackle Chris Mayes, has the size to eventually work his way into the rotation but looks to be a bit of a longer-term project.
Outlook. There doesn't figure to be a lot of drama on the defensive line depth chart this season, which surely comes as a huge relief to Grantham and Mark Richt. Not only do they have a returning starter to lock down either end of the line, they finally have the gigantic, run-stuffing presence in the center who can attract double-teams and free the linebacking corps to run wild.
Where things get a little shaky is the depth situation. The understudies at each position -- Lott, Geathers and Smith -- were all highly sought-after recruits, but were only used sparingly last season and notched 17 total tackles between them. If they don't rise to the occasion, that could open up opportunities for Sterling Bailey, but beyond him the roster is basically walk-ons. Overall, this year's crop of D-linemen presents Todd Grantham with a skill set more suited to the 3-4 than last year's did, but let's all cross our fingers and hope that Joe Tereshinski's more stringent strength and conditioning program makes them less vulnerable to injuries as well.
Special-teamers don't often get a lot of attention unless they a) play for Frank Beamer or b) screw up. Fortunately, Georgia hasn't had much of the latter problem the last few years despite a couple of underwhelming records. A bevy of senior talent comes back to take one last crack at helping the Dawgs to an SEC title.
PROJECTED DEPTH CHART
1. Branden Smith (5'11", 169), Sr.
2. Carlton Thomas (5'7", 170), RJr.
3. Malcolm Mitchell (6'0", 185), Fr.
Who's coming back. Every leading special-teamer from 2010 is back, headlined by kickoff terror Brandon Boykin, who passed on the NFL for a chance at grabbing the all-time SEC record for KO return touchdowns; punt returner and triple threat Branden Smith; and kicker Blair Walsh and punter Drew Butler, both of whom continue the Dawgs' string of accurate, cannon-legged players at their respective positions. It's anyone's guess as to what's going to happen next year, as all of those players are seniors, but for right now the Dawgs have easily the most potent special-teams arsenal in the SEC, perhaps the nation.
Who's not. A.J. Green's departure is a loss that will be felt in more than just the receiving corps, as he provided a worthwhile change of pace in the punt-return game. So did wide receiver Logan Gray, who, despite his reputation as a fair-catch impresario, was actually second on the team with six punt returns last year. Other than Smith, Bacarri Rambo and Derek Owens are the only returning players who had any punt returns at all in 2010.
Who's new. The Dawgs' heralded 2011 recruiting class was chock full of incredibly athletic players with experience at a number of positions, including special-teams duty. The two who appear most likely to see ST playing time this year are Valdosta's Malcolm Mitchell, who played defensive back in high school but is already being talked about as a receiver candidate at Georgia, and Justin Scott-Wesley, a wideout who declared for Georgia back in May from atop a victory podium not long after setting a new state record in the 100-meter dash. Scott-Wesley is considered a bit raw for the Georgia receiving corps, but his speed is the kind of talent that prompts coaches to try and figure out some way to get him on the field.
Outlook. Spring-practice junkies won't find many juicy depth-chart battles in special teams this year, as Walsh, Butler, Boykin and Smith all have their starting jobs pretty well locked up. The interest will be mainly in where Georgia's blue-chip recruits manage to slot in behind Smith and Boykin. Starting expertise aside, there's not a whole lot of depth at either position, and that could present an opportunity for players like Mitchell, Scott-Wesley, or perhaps even WR recruit Sanford Seay -- another actual track star with a 4.4 40 to his credit -- to get some return opportunities. One other factor is whether Mitchell becomes a figure of importance in the receiving corps; if that happens, the amount of attention devoted to Scott-Wesley for kickoff returns could increase. The general consensus seems to be that he needs to fine-tune his route-running a bit more before he can become a factor at WR, but his speed may be too valuable for Mark Richt to redshirt this season.
Well, Dawg fans, you knew this day would come -- it's time to wish A.J. Green the best of luck in the NFL and begin the difficult task of figuring out how to replace the most dynamic Georgia receiver in generations, perhaps of all time. Here are the players who will be trying on A.J.'s substantial shoes as spring practice begins.
PROJECTED DEPTH CHART
1. Tavarres King (6'1"191,), RJr.
2. Michael Bennett (6'3", 202), RFr.
3. Chris Conley (6'3", 180), Fr.
4. Sanford Seay (6'3", 198), Fr.
Who's coming back. The top two receivers from last year may be gone, but the next four are coming back -- wideouts Tavarres King and Marlon Brown, along with tight ends Orson Charles and Aron White. Rantavious Wooten and Israel Troupe are back as well, but both practically fell off the map in 2010 after showing some signs of promise in '09. One potential sleeper: Michael Bennett, who wore a redshirt last year but has been spoken very highly of by the coaches.
Who's not. A.J. Green, of course, is gone, but the Dawgs also lose the sure hands of Kris Durham, who graduates this spring. QB-turned-receiver Logan Gray is looking for a transfer destination so that he can get his master's degree. And ex-tight end Bruce Figgins is being moved to fullback, though TE is the one position in the receiving corps that the Dawgs won't have to worry about -- the depth there is quite solid.
Who's new. The Dawgs didn't wait long after A.J.'s draft declaration to begin reeling in a formidable class of wide receivers. As of now, the scuttlebutt says that Malcolm Mitchell -- a four-star WR out of Valdosta for whom Georgia managed to beat Alabama's considerable recruiting efforts -- is the most likely of those recruits to see playing time this fall, though early enrollee Chris Conley has been on campus long enough to observe the Dawgs' offensive system and possibly begin contributing as well. The wild cards are wide receivers Justin Scott-Wesley and Sanford Seay and tight end Jay Rome. Scott-Wesley and Seay both feature track-star speed that could make either one the deep-threat heir apparent to Green, but they'll need to add some muscle first. Rome, like Mitchell, is a four-star Valdosta product who turned down Bama for the Dawgs, but with Georgia already well-stocked at TE, Mark Richt may not be in any hurry to burn a potential redshirt just yet.
Outlook. Tavarres King seems pretty solid at one of the starting spots, and Orson Charles and Aron White should share action at tight end all season. Beyond that, almost nothing is certain. Marlon Brown was a widely heralded recruit when he turned down Lane Kiffin's neon clutches and signed with Georgia in 2009, but his Georgia career right now amounts to 13 catches for 148 yards and a TD over two years. With the other two returning flankers (Wooten and Troupe) being virtual nonentities in 2010, there will be ample opportunity for Malcolm Mitchell, who gives up some size to Brown but could otherwise be every but Green's equal in terms of athleticism, to make a quick climb up the depth chart. Chris Conley will also get some looks, but if Richt starts flirting seriously with the idea of making either Justin Scott-Wesley or Sanford Seay the starter, it probably isn't a good sign.
At the split end position, don't be surprised to see Michael Bennett get some opportunities to make plays out of Mike Bobo's multiple-receiver sets. No worries at tight end, where Orson Charles has established himself well but Aron White has made some big plays as well; the depth Georgia enjoyed at the position last year allowed Bobo to employ some two-TE sets where Charles lined up more or less in the slot, and that trend should continue. Even with Bruce Figgins moving to fullback, the Dawgs' TE depth is such that they can afford to redshirt Jay Rome, but Richt seems to be throwing out some of his preconceived notions about seniority and when to redshirt star recruits. If Rome wows the coaches in spring and summer practice, Richt will find a way to put him on the field in the fall.
Overall, this is a class of receivers that's long on potential but short on definite answers. But if Aaron Murray spreads the ball around as well this year as he did in 2010 -- 19 different receivers caught passes last season, and 10 of them caught at least one touchdown -- there will be no shortage of opportunities for each player to show what they can do.
With nearly all of the major statistical contributors from last year coming back, and Georgia's biggest recruiting grab in years being added to the mix in the form of Isaiah Crowell, the offensive backfield might feature the most intriguing -- and hard-fought -- depth-chart battles Georgia fans will see this spring. Coming off a disappointing showing in 2010, though, seniority is no longer a guarantee of playing time.
PROJECTED DEPTH CHART
Who's coming back. Led by last year's top three runners -- Washaun Ealey, Caleb King and Carlton Thomas -- the Dawgs return nearly 90 percent of last year's rushing production. Georgia fans will also recognize the name of Bruce Figgins, though not in the position in which they're accustomed to seeing him. Facing a loaded rotation at tight end but a shaky situation at fullback heading into 2011, the coaches are moving ex-TE Figgins over to FB, where his 6'4", 265-pound bulk could be a huge advantage for the tailbacks running behind him.
Who's not. The reason Figgins' move is so important is because the top two fullbacks over the past few years, Shaun Chapas and Fred Munzenmaier, have both graduated. Both Chapas and Munzenmaier were sure-handed pass-catchers in addition to being strong runners and adept blockers; that do-it-all ability leaves big shoes for Figgins to fill, though as a converted tight end he's certainly got the skill set to do it.
Who's new. Even Georgia fans without the slightest interest in recruiting have no doubt heard of Isaiah Crowell, the five-star Columbus, Ga., running back who represents one of the biggest recruiting coups of the Mark Richt era -- and perhaps his biggest coup at RB, period. Richt had to beat out the nigh-unstoppable Nick Saban recruiting machine at Alabama for Crowell's services, so he knows what a good player he's got, and he's already vowed not to repeat the mistake he made by waiting too long to play Knowshon Moreno. In fact, Richt has already made noises about giving Crowell the first carry in the pivotal 2011 season opener against Boise State.
Outlook. Richt hasn't often been the message-sending type, but a clear (if unofficial) message has been sent to Washaun Ealey and Caleb King: Time to step it up, guys. After a season in which both Ealey and King were inconsistent on the field and frequently in trouble off of it, neither could afford anything less than a sterling offseason, yet it's already begun poorly for both players -- King was academically ineligible for the Liberty Bowl, while Ealey is presently under indefinite suspension for violating team rules.
It might seem overly harsh to declare that the two tailbacks have used up all their goodwill with Richt, but, well, they probably have. And it's not as if Richt needed much additional excuse to tilt the playing-time equation in Isaiah Crowell's favor anyway. Basically, Crowell will go as far this offseason as his determination and work ethic will carry him, and it's not an exaggeration to say that playing time is his to lose -- though the ideal situation from Richt's perspective would be for Ealey and King to have a fire lit under them by Crowell's arrival, work their tails off over spring and summer, and give the Dawgs a diabolical three-headed running attack by the time Boise State's team plane lands in Atlanta.
Things are somewhat less clear at fullback, where the Dawgs are filling a somewhat substantial void. Bruce Figgins' size and experience would tend to favor him as the starter, though coaches have been impressed with Alex Ogletree's athleticism; he'll provide a formidable challenge for the starting job if Figgins struggles with the transition into a new position. Expectations for this position are high, though, as the departures of both of last year's leading FBs, combined with some big question marks on the right side of the offensive line, won't allow much time for learning on the job.
It's not exactly a closely guarded state secret that the offensive line was one of the biggest disappointments of the 2010 season, breaking down in pass protection at a couple critical junctures and failing to pave the way for a dominating running game. For that reason, not a lot of the returning guys can exactly be called "entrenched." Still, with plenty of experience returning, a new position coach, and a no-excuses philosophy in the strength and conditioning program, there's reason to hope they'll play up to their full potential in 2011.
PROJECTED DEPTH CHART
1. Ben Jones (6'3", 298), Sr.
2. Chris Burnette (6'2", 291), RSoph.
3. Ben Reynolds (6'2", 253), RSoph.
1. Ben Harden (6'3", 308), Sr.
2. Kenarious Gates (6'5", 307), Soph.
3. Josh Parrish (6'4", 300), RSoph.
Who's coming back. If Mark Richt and his coaching staff seem remarkably non-panicky about losing three of last year's O-line starters to graduation, it's because they still have Trinton Sturdivant to rely on for blindside protection. After missing all of the 2008 season and all but a few snaps of 2009 due to knee injuries, Sturdivant appeared in 12 games last year, making seven starts; it's safe to say the coaching staff feels pretty comfortable assigning him to fill the substantial shoes of All-SEC first-teamer Clint Boling. Also returning are center Ben Jones and left guard Cordy Glenn, who started 25 of 26 total games in 2010 (Jones was suspended for the first half of the Colorado game after clipping a Mississippi State player the previous week).
Who's not. Clint Boling, of course, is off to certain riches in the NFL; guard Chris Davis and tackle Josh Davis have graduated and will be crossing their fingers to hear their names called in the draft as well. The line lost some depth when redshirt junior Tanner Strickland, who started three games at left guard last year, announced he was calling an end to his unfortunately injury-plagued career.
Who's new. Ben Harden and Kolton Houston appear poised to step up to starting positions on the right side of the line; coaches are particularly excited about Houston, who was a four-star recruit out of Buford High School and enrolled early at UGA. Overall, Georgia doesn't have quite the line depth it enjoyed last year (though A.J. Harmon can play just about anywhere on the line the coaches need him), but that doesn't mean you should expect to see any of the five linemen from the Dawgs' 2011 recruiting class to take the field anytime soon; even the most highly touted of those recruits, Tarpon Springs, Fla., tackle Zach DeBell, will probably take a redshirt this season while learning the system and adding some muscle mass.
Outlook. You could look at Georgia's crop of O-linemen one of two ways. The glass-half-empty set, of course, sees a new line coach coming in and having to deal with the loss of Boling and two other senior starters from a line that didn't do all that great last year to begin with; the glass-half-full crowd, though, sees fresh blood (and an aggressive new training regimen) potentially molding a talented group of linemen back into something special, i.e. what they were in 2007 and '08.
With Sturdivant, Glenn and Jones presumably retaining their starting spots, there's a solid nucleus of talent to build onto; the coaching staff just has to hope they can get one more good injury-free year out of Sturdivant, as the depth behind him at LT is not spectacular. Barring a major disaster in spring practice, though, don't expect 2011's bumper crop of linemen to figure much into this year's depth chart battles, as Richt's ideal scenario involves all of them getting redshirted while they build up the skills (and bulk) they'll need to command the trenches in the SEC.
With the 2011 recruiting class locked in and all the decisions about early NFL departures finalized, it's time to step back and take a look at what Georgia's got heading into spring practice. We'll go position by position, naming each of the likely contributors and trying to get an early idea of how the depth chart will shake out. Let's start with quarterbacks.
Who's coming back. It's weird to think how unsettled Georgia's QB roster looked less than a year ago; since then, Aaron Murray has given Georgia fans one of the most spectacular performances ever by a freshman Bulldog QB, and it's not a stretch to call him the top quarterback in the SEC heading into 2011. Behind him, Hutson Mason had a solid season, throwing a touchdown pass to Logan Gray on the very first attempt of his UGA career.
Who's not. Speaking of Logan Gray, he's decided to transfer to another D-IA school where he can take advantage of a fifth year of eligibility while earning a master's degree. Gray, of course, had been moved to wide receiver long before the 2010 season started, but his departure leaves the Dawgs without an emergency option should Murray and Mason go down. Except for . . .
Who's new. Early enrollee Christian LeMay gives Georgia some needed depth at quarterback, not to mention an additional level of athletic talent. He's in a bit of an unusual situation in that he chose to skip his senior year of high school in North Carolina due to some nebulous disciplinary issues, and while he's been training regularly since then, he hasn't seen any actual game time since the fall of '09.
Outlook. For the first time since 2008, the Dawgs have an entrenched, experienced starter returning at QB. Aaron Murray obliterated all expectations by throwing for 3,049 yards, 24 touchdowns and only eight packs last year as a freshman, and while he won't have A.J. Green to throw to, he didn't have Green either for the first four games of 2010 and still managed to put up decent numbers.
Mason seems like a pretty solid lock to remain the No. 2 quarterback despite the arrival of LeMay on campus. LeMay has the raw talent to make a move on the depth chart in a year's time, but his lack of playing time over the past year, not to mention his need to build up some additional bulk before diving headfirst into the SEC, likely means the coaching staff will do everything they can to keep him safely redshirted for the entirety of the 2011 season.