There are several reasons why I want to rank Georgia highly and might want to move them down on my list.
Georgia had a rough year in 2013 and wound up 8-5. Four of those games could have gone either way and obviously the luckiest play of the year and maybe the decade worked against Georgia during the Auburn game. Clemson, Vanderbilt or Nebraska could have all gone Georgia’s way, but they didn’t. Georgia was the exact opposite of Auburn a season ago. As Auburn got nearly every break in the book go their way, Georgia had every break go against them.
They were a much better team than 8-5
Then, there were the injuries. Georgia’s offense was devastated by injuries. They lost the best player on the team for a few games, Todd Gurley. They lost his backup and also very talented, Keith Marshall.
They lost their top WRs Malcolm Mitchell, Michael Bennett and Justin Scott-Wesley.
In other words, Georgia lost their top 2 big play RBs and their top 3 WRs. Just a very unlucky season for the Dogs.
Another reason why I like Georgia is the arrival of Jeremy Pruitt from Florida State. I believe that Narduzzi at Michigan State is the best DC in the country, but Pruitt is right up there.
Yet another reason to like Georgia is the return of Todd Gurley. If he stays healthy he could have a huge year.
Aaron Murray type players are hard to replace, often times even impossible. He had a really nice career in Athens. Guys that throw for over 13,000 yards and 121 TDs are not grown on trees. It seems like Aaron Murray has been playing QB for Georgia since Herschel Walker was around and losing Murray may take away all the reasons why I like Georgia this season.
Senior Hutson Mason (6-3,205) luckily did get a little playing time against Georgia Tech and in the Gator Bowl against Nebraska. Mason did manage to complete 67 passes on 110 attempts for 968 yards and 5 TDs.
He must play better and more consistently than he did in the Gator Bowl against Nebraska.
Sophomore Faton Bauta (6-3,215) and redshirt freshman Brice Ramsey (6-3,205) will battle it out for the back up spot. Both are athletic QBs with strong arms. I feel like Brice Ramsey is the best long term prospect of the three, but Bauta is a good option as well. Time will tell.
Incoming 4 star recruit out of South Carolina Jacob Park (6-4,205) is possibly the best QB in his recruiting class. He has ideal size and arm strength and has great pocket presence and throws well on the move.
Simply said, Todd Gurley (6-1,235) is the best RB in the country. Injury kept Gurley from having a 1500 plus yardage year, but he still managed to rush for 989 yards and 10 TDs.The Bulldogs should have him for one more year and he will be playing for his draft rating and future income so he could have a giant year. Gurley is also a big time receiver out of the backfield and had 37 catches a year ago for 6 more TDs. Todd Gurley could be a surprise candidate to steal the Heisman away from a QB.
Losing Keith Marshall (6-1,220) last season was almost as costly as losing Gurley. Marshall is without a doubt the best back up RB in the entire country. Marshall rushed for 246 yards before going down for the season. I don’t know if Marshall will be healed up in time for this season and if not I would guess he will redshirt and have 2 more years at Georgia. I think the NFL could be in his future as well as Gurley’s.
JJ Green (5-8,180) was recruited for another position but moved to RB because Georgia had few other options last season. Green wound up second leading rusher on the team with 384 yards as a true freshman. Brendan Douglas (5-11,200) was a true freshman mild surprise at RB a year ago and had 345 yards on the ground.
AJ Turman (6-0,200) redshirted a year ago and may be way down the list for playing time.
Even with all the talent returning, Georgia was still able to pull in 2 4 star RBs with tremendous potential. #2 ranked RB in the country Sony Michel (5-11,195) comes from Plantation, Florida. The #7 rated RB also came on board, Nick Chubb (5-11,220) out of Cedartown, Ga. They are both outstanding.
Georgia is absolutely loaded at RB. Last year’s battle with injuries should not happen again anytime soon and if it does, the Bulldogs should have plenty of depth.
Should the Bulldogs need a Fullback in short yardage situations, they can go with Quayvon Hicks (6-2,255) or Merritt Hall (5-11,225). Hicks rushed for 72 yards on 10 carries and a TD a year ago.
Receiving positions should be deep and talented this season. Again, they must get lucky and avoid injury.
Malcolm Mitchell (6-1,190) has 85 career receptions, but missed all of last season. Hopefully he will be as good as new. Justin Scott-Wesley (5-11,205) should be back after catching 16 passes in an injury plagued year.
Either Michael Bennett (6-3,205) with 41 catches for 538 yards or Chris Conley (6-3,210) with 45 catches and the teams leading receiver will share duties at the other spot. Both are good and dependable receivers.
Others in the mix are Sophomore Reggie Davis (6-0,160) returning with 11 receptions. Jonathon Rumph (6-5,210) is a big receiver who is back for his senior season after catching only 7 passes a year ago.
Sophomore Blake Tibbs (6-2,180) may also be in the mix.
Shakenneth Williams (6-1,195) was a 4 star recruit and he could get in the middle of everything pretty early.
Jay Rome (6-6,255) should be the #1 guy at TE now after losing Arthur Lynch. He played a year ago and had 9 receptions.
Jordan Davis (6-4,225) is a redshirt freshman and Jeb Blazevich (6-5,235) is a 4 star recruit out of North Carolina that could play pretty quickly.
Be careful, Jay Rome, not a lot of depth at TE.
It all starts up front with returning Center David Andrews (6-2,295) who is one of the best in the SEC.
The 2 guard spots should be filled by sophomore Brandon Kublanow (6-3,290) and he played a lot as a true freshman a year ago. The other guard, on the right side, should be filled by Watts Dantzler (6-7,305) who played a lot a year ago.
Man monster Greg Pyke (6-6,325) could be a factor here. Look for Josh Cardiello (6-3,300) to be a factor here or a back up to Andrews at center.
Tackle as a good problem to have, possibly too many guys for 2 positions. I would look for John Theus (6-6,300) to slide over to LT, and for Kolton Houston (6-5,280) to play RT. Mark Beard (6-5,300) is good and dependable and could start at either spot as well.
The defense should be interesting to watch in the Spring and next Fall. Jeremy Pruitt could make big changes here.
Ray Drew (6-5,275) returns at one DE spot and was second on the team in sacks with 6.
He should be backed by Josh Dawson (6-5,255) or incoming freshman 4 star recruit Keyon Brown (6-3,235)
The other DE could be Sterling Bailey (6-3,285) but watch out for 5 star recruit and the 3rd ranked DE in the country, Lorenzo Carter (6-5,235). It’s just a matter of time before he makes his presence felt on the field. I hate to put too much pressure on a true freshman but Carter may deserve the #1 ranking, he is very good.
Another guy that may be in the mix on either side is Toby Johnson (6-4,300) who will be coming back for his senior year.
Should Georgia remain in the 3-4 defense, man mountain Chris Mayes (6-4,320) should plug up the middle. If Pruitt wants to run a 4-3, they should have plenty of big bodies up front for 2 tackles. Even bigger than Mayes is John Taylor who weighs in at 335 pounds on his 6-4 frame. Senior Mike Thornton (6-1,290) from Stone Mountain, Georgia played a little a year ago.
Lamont Gaillard (6-4,300) is a big time 4 star recruit that could play in a hurry. He has the size and the talent to help right away.
2 huge redshirt freshmen, De’Andre Johnson (6-3,310) and John Atkins (6-4,320) could fight for positions as well. Georgia has more than enough DT/NG types to play the 4-3, or they can remain in the 3-4. The middle should be more than solid in 2014.
Amarlo Herrera (6-2,245) and Ramik Wilson (6-2,230) return as the ILBs for their senior seasons and they led the team in tackles in 2013.
Reggie Carter (6-1,230) , Ryne Rankin (6-1,220) and Johnny O’Neal (6-2,225) all played very little a season ago, but they will need to be groomed to take over in a year.
Georgia struck out in this recruiting class with ILBs.
On the outside, Leonard Floyd (6-4,220) and Jordan Jenkins (6-3,245) should start. Both are very young and should improve in 2014. Floyd led the team in sacks with 6.5 while Jenkins added another 5.
I wonder if the coaches will try super Lorenzo Carter here before he puts on more weight. He is a bit smallish for the DE position that Georgia plays right now.
Others that might push for playing time here are James DeLoach (6-3,265), Davin Bellamy (6-5,235), Brandon Burrows ( 6-3,235) and Shaun McGee ( 6-3,235). None of these guys possess much experience.
At CB, Shaq Wiggins (5-10,170) led the team in interceptions a year ago. At the other corner, Damien Swann (5-11,180) returns as one of the teams leading tacklers a year ago. Brendan Langley (6-1,180) played a year ago and so did Sheldon Dawson (5-11,190). 4 star recruit Shattle Fenteng (6-1.185) could get in the mix.
Free Safety Quincy Mauger (6-0,200) was good as a freshman and was a team leader in tackles. An other option at FS is Tray Matthews (6-0,195) who played a lot and was 10th leading tackler a year ago.
Strong safety Josh Harvey-Clemons (6-5,215) returns and he was 3rd on the team in tackles after the 2 ILBs.
The Georgia Bulldogs should be one of the top teams in the country for 2014. But, we will know for sure after the second game of the season. They open with a rematch with Clemson and this time it will be at home. Then, it’s South Carolina and they will be ranked coming in. They also have Missouri in Columbia, Florida at Jacksonville and Auburn at home. Then, they end with rival Georgia Tech in Athens.
Could be a good year for the Bulldogs if they can get by the first 2 games and if Hutson Mason or one of the other QBs can replace Murray.