The Georgia Bulldogs kick off spring practice on March 10th and the Spring Game is on April 16th. That's just around the corner so let's take a look at the depth chart on the offensive side of the football, where I project it and let's have a little discussion about each position. I will add in some in-coming freshmen that will not compete in spring practice just for the fun of it (they will be notated in italics).
QB1- Aaron Murray, Sophmore
QB2- Huston Mason, Sophmore; Christian LeMay, Freshman
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This is Aaron Murray's job. He's arguably the best QB right now in the SEC. The battle for #2 will be interesting. Mason was good in his very limited playing time last year- including his awesome first ever collegiate pass to Logan Gray (which was a TD!). LeMay has incredible tools and should push for playing time down the road but right now he hasn't played football in a while and needs to get in some work to get the rust off. He did not play his senior year of High School but he is in school early so that will help. I expect either Mason or LeMay to red-shirt in a perfect world. Georgia received a scare this week with Aaron Murray's "leg injury" and it emphasises just how important he is to the team. LeMay and Mason need to get ready because making it through an SEC schedule (that also includes Boise State and Georgia Tech) is going to be tough.
RB1- Caleb King, Senior; Isaiah Crowell, Freshman
RB2- Carlton Thomas, RS Junior
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RB3- Boo Malcome, RS Freshman
**Washuan Ealey, Junior (currently suspended from team activities)
This will be one of the most interesting things to watch this fall when Crowell arrives on campus. When that happens I expect Crowell to grab a share of the starting spot. I think Richt is ready to try anything to get the running game going and that includes Crowell. I expect King to still get a fair share of snaps because of his ability as a blocker and his familiarity with the offense. King has been a disappointment because of his injuries and off the field issues but he's still a talented guy. Last year he posted a 5.3 ypc average and in 2009 averaged 5.2 ypc and added 7 TD. The guy to watch in the spring is Ken "Boo" Malcome. Malcome brings something none of the other guys in the backfield do and that's power. Look for him to get a long hard look during the spring. Georgia has talent in the backfield but it has underachieved since the loss of Knowshon Moreno. With Crowell in the mix (and Boo Malcome also pushing for playing time), the incumbents should be pushed to better themselves which should make for more competition and better overall performance. A lot of this will still depend on the offensive line and if new coach Will Friend can help us out with the mess that was Stacy Searles legacy.
FB1- Zander Ogletree, Soph
FB2- Bruce Figgins, Senior
FB3- Dustin Royston, Soph
Gone is Shaun Chapas (and Fred Munzenmaier) and he will be missed. He was such an under-valued player but was so good at what he did. Zander Ogletree will get the first shot at filling his spot. Ogletree played a good bit on Special Teams last year but will need to step up if he is going to be the main FB in the Georgia offense. Due to the dearth of TEs, Bruce Figgins has been switch over to FB. Figgins is a talented guy and has good hands so he could be a really good weapon out of the backfield. I think the rotation will probably be about 80/20 or 75/25 in favor of Zander when all is said and done.
FL1- Tavarres King, Junior
FL2- Malcolm Mitchell, Freshman
FL3- Rantavious Wooten, Junior; Chris Conley, Freshman
SE1- Marlon Brown, Junior
SE2- Michael Bennett, RS Freshman
SE3- Israel Troupe, Senior
I've seen several of the guys listed in different orders as SE and Flanker but generally the Flanker is your "go-to" guy and the SE is your bigger WR who is a better blocker so that's why I've organized them the way I have. King is the only given and I expect him to have a break-out year this year after catching 27 passes for 504 yards last year. King's primary back-up should be in-coming freshman Malcolm Mitchell but he won't be arriving on campus until the fall so the guy to keep an eye on in the spring is freshman Chris Conley, who enrolled early. As a senior in HS he caught 61 passes for 1,021 yards and 15 TD (also caught 81 passes as a junior). Wooten actually took a small step back last year but he's still a guy to keep an eye on if he can stay healthy. Also, look for Branden Smith to get some looks.
At the SE position I see Marlon Brown getting the early nod. Marlon caught 11 balls for 133 yards last year and seems to be getting better but he hasn't taken that next step yet. The guy to watch during spring practice is Michael Bennett. Bennett is 6'3" and in HS the Scout.com team was most impressed by his body control and his ability to go up and get the football at it's highest point. He also has good hands, so he seems similar to Kris Durham, which is a good thing. Chris Low of ESPN has him as one of the impact RS Freshmen in the SEC this year. I would also expect Orson Charles to get some snaps at WR this year due to the depth at TE and the lack of returning experience at WR.
TE1- Orson Charles, Senior
TE2- Aron White, Senior
TE3- Jay Rome, Freshman
TE4- Arthur Lynch, RS Soph
Georgia has the ability to go 4 deep at this position (5 deep if you count Figgins who switched to FB) and has one of the best TE corps in the country. Orson Charles has put up consistent numbers in his first two years (20+ catches in each year and an avg of 16+ ypc in both seasons) but is yet to break-out despite his talent and mis-matches he presents in coverage. I look for Orson to really come on this year as he seemed to step up and become more of a focus last year as the season progressed (10 catches with 0 TD in his first 8 games and 16 catches and 2 TD in his last 5 games). Aron White took a step back last year (0 TD in 2010 vs 4 TD in 2009) and also had a huge drop against Florida that turned into an interception. He has a lot of talent but he has to put last season behind him as he has Jay Rome right behind him challenging for playing time. Lynch had a great spring last year but there just wasn't playing time for him, he can play but I just don't know if there will be many snaps for him this year.
LT1- Trinton Sturdivant, Senior
RT2- A.J. Harmon, RS Junior
RT3- Austin Long, RS Soph
LG1- Kolton Houston, RS Freshman
LG2- Dallas Lee, RS Soph
LG3- John Bodin, RS Junior
C1- Ben Jones, Senior
C2- Chris Burnette, RS Soph
C3- David Andrews, Freshman
RG1- Kenarious Gates, Soph
RG2- Ben Harden, Senior
RG3- Chris Burnette, RS Soph
RT1- Cordy Glenn, Senior
RT2- Bruce Benedict, RS Freshman
RT3- Austin Long, RS Soph
OL is by far my least knowledgeable position but I think Sturdivant, Jones, Gates and Glenn are no-brainers in terms of starters for next yar. I think Glenn, despite being Mel Kiper's #1 OG draft prospect among rising seniors, will start the season out at tackle in order to help break in a new starter. Look for Kolton Houston to push for the starting OG spot but honestly the 5th lineman looks like anybody's job right now. He was a ESPNU150 guy last year (ranked #96, one spot ahead of Boo Malcome). Another guy to keep an eye on is Bruce Benedict. No not the catcher for the Braves. Benedict was also a member of the 2010 ESPNU150 class as he ranked right behind Houston at #119. Will this be the year that Chris Burnette or Austin Long take the next step? Maybe Justin Anderson will move back over from the DL now that John Jenkins is there to clog up the middle. Another name to watch is A.J. Harmon, he missed the Liberty Bowl with academic issues but he could be in the mix if he's eligible. From a True Freshman stand point the guys to watch are David Andrews (if there is an injury at center, cross your fingers there isn't), Watts Dantzler and Zach DeBell. But none of those guys are here for spring practice so to expect them to contribute right away would be a mistake. The Georgia OL was supposed to be special last year but they got abused at the point of contact in many games.
QB- Even though there is no established depth, Murray was the best freshman QB in the Nation last year and was very efficient. He has talented established guys around him and he has some talent coming in and coming up to help him. If he plays within himself and stays healthy then I think the offense does just fine this year.
TE- With Charles, White and Rome you have one of the finest TE units in the land. Georgia just needs to utilize them more effectively.
BIGGEST QUESTION MARKS
RB- The biggest issue last year was guys being knuckle-heads on and off the field. If they weren't fumbling they were driving with suspended licenses. The returning guys (King and possibly Ealey) need to man up and mature. I still think King and Ealey can contribute and can be effective. They can play in the SEC but they aren't difference makers. Is Isaiah Crowell that guy? If he is then this question-mark can quickly turn into a strength. The other question is if Boo Malcome can provide that power. Georgia was not confident enough to go for it on 4th and short last year against UCF. That's sad. Boo needs to be the guy that gets those yards.
OL- The OL was supposed to be special last year (returning the most starts in all of college football) but they got abused at the point of attack in many games. The Bulldogs have updated and reinvigorated their Strength and Conditioning Program and have brought in a new OL coach. Georgia returns 4 starters off the OL (even if Gates only started for half the season) so it's time for them to perform. If they live up to their billing for last year then it will give the RBs and young WR corps a chance to settle in despite having to go up against Boise State and South Carolina right off the bat. This unit should be embarrassed by last years performance and should be ready to make a difference right out of the gate.
Agree or Disagree with the Depth Chart and comments? Put it in the comments section below or e-mail us at collegefootballzealot at gmail.com. Check back next week for a look at the Georgia Defensive Depth Chart. You can also follow us on twitter @CFBZ.