It's time to get back on the Georgia Bulldogs bandwagon and take a look at the 10 most important players for Georgia this year. Let's not confuse this with their 10 best players, although sometimes the lines will get crossed.
#1 Aaron Murray, QB, RS Soph
I had Murray at #2 when I first put this down on paper but the more I think about it the more I think it would be too much of a blow if Georgia were to lose to Murray. Sure, Hutson Mason or Christian LeMay might step up but neither has taken any meaningful college snaps and LeMay didn't even play during his senior year in High School. Murray is the man that will dictate how far this Georgia team goes on offense this year. I think the ceiling is high for this club but only if the pieces come together under his leadership.
# 2 John Jenkins, NT, Junior (JUCO)
Jenkins wasn't even on the team last year and won't even show up on campus until summer but he's #2 in my book because of the importance of the Nose Tackle position in the 3-4 defense and the huge hole Georgia had on the DL last year. Georgia lost to South Carolina, Mississippi State and Colorado because they couldn't stop the run last year. I'm not saying they win all of those games with a better DL but they could have. Jenkins has the ability to make an immediate impact in the middle of the defense and will also make the DL better by sliding DeAngelo Tyson out to DE where he can be more effective. Jenkins ability to anchor the Georgia defense will be key this season for the Dawgs.
#3 Jarvis Jones, SOLB, RS Soph
Jarvis Jones was starting to make an impact with the USC Trojans two years ago when he went down with a season ending injury. He ended up transferring back home to the University of Georgia and after sitting out last year to fully heal he is poised to become an impact player for the Dawgs. Jones will be tasked in replacing a lot of the production left from Justin Houston's early exit to the NFL draft despite not playing the same exact position (Houston was a weak-side OLB, Jones will be a strong-side). Jones presents an upgrade over Houston in the majority of LB categories. Houston was a fantastic player for Georgia but was moved from DE to OLB last year in the 3-4 and was much better at rushing the passer then at other areas. Jones presents a more complete skill set and has the ability to be a star. His ability to adjust to Grantham's 3-4 and become a play maker will be critical for the success for the Georgia defense.
#4 Cordy Glenn, T, Senior
The OL and DL were the two biggest weaknesses on Georgia last year. Too often, Georgia's runners were being destroyed in the backfield just as they were being handed the football often causing disastrous results (see: Caleb King's fumble at Colorado). The OL did not do a good job making holes for the run or protecting Aaron Murray. For Georgia to be successful this year the OL has to be better. The biggest change on the Georgia OL is moving OG (Offensive Guard, not to be confused with Original Gangster) Cordy Glenn to Tackle opposite Trinton Sturdivant. Glenn has been previously rated as one of the top Guards in next years draft by Mel Kiper so he clearly has the talent to perform at a high level. Glenn's ability to adapt to the new position and be successful is huge for Georgia this year. Here is an update on how Glenn is progressing so far.
#5 Alec Ogletree, ILB, Soph
Ogletree moving from Safety to LB this spring was a surprise but it could make a huge impact for Georgia. Ogletree saw more and more action last year as the season went on and really started to find his niche towards the end of the year. Ogletree is an athletic kid who plays a very physical style of football. His ability to be the play-maker to Christian Robinson's consistent play is very important for Georgia this year. We've already talked about John Jenkins in the middle. Adding Ogletree to the second line of defense behind Jenkins could be a winning combination.
#6 Isaiah Crowell, RB, Freshman
Crowell's impact this year will be measured less on his actual statistics and more on the overall statistics of the entire Georgia RB corps. Make no mistake about it, Crowell is being brought in to make an immediate impact by being the big play guy that Washaun Ealey and Caleb King have not yet been able to become (unless they are playing Kentucky, Vandy or Georgia Tech). Crowell will get a chance to come in and get some early reps for Georgia. If Crowell can break out then it would be huge for Georgia. It would also be huge if his being on campus causes either Ealey or King to breakout.
#7 Tavarres King, WR, Junior
I mentioned earlier this year that King would be moving over to Flanker to replace A.J. Green and it was confirmed this past week that King will in fact move from Split End to Flanker. Do you think those are big shoes to fill? I don't think anybody expect King to replace A.J. but what King needs to do is become the number one option for Aaron Murray and do so on a consistent basis. Those of you that saw the Arkansas and Florida games last year know that King clearly has the talent to be a #1 receiver. The question is if he can do it on a consistent basis and take pressure off of the running game and open up the field for Orson Charles and Aaron Murray.
#8 Trinton Strudivant, T, Senior
Sturdivant has undergone two season ending knee injuries in his career. It's hard not to root for a kid who has been through as much as he has. Sturdivant is key for Georgia this year in anchoring his side of the line. Having another year under his belt since his last surgery should go along way to Sturdivant and the OL playing better this year. The two guys listed here for the OL have to perform well for Georgia to be successful running the football and using play-action.
#9 Baccari Rambo. Safety, Junior
Rambo was very up and down last year in his first year in Grantham's 3-4 defense. He started the season tentative after getting concussed late in the previous season by his game saving hit against Auburn. He seemed to get more comfortable as the year went on but never really hit his stride. Despite not having a great year he did finish second on the team with 82 tackles, made 3 interceptions and scored a TD. Hopefully he won't be making as many tackles this year with Jenkins, Ogletree and Jones playing in front of him. His success is vital this year because Ogletree moving to ILB creates a hole at the safety position opposite Rambo. Rambo will need to be very steady to allow whoever wins that job to ease into the position.
#10 Orson Charles, TE, Junior
Orson Charles might be the most talented player on the offensive side of the football for Georgia. He is a mis-match for the opponent no matter who they try to cover him with when he is out running routes. Has Charles been too tentative or is it simply a failure of Georgia's offense to get him the football. With the departure of A.J. Green and Kris Durham, Georgia cannot continue to undervalue the skill they possess at the TE position. Anybody who saw Charles against Florida (6 catches for 108 yards and 1 TD) understands the value he can add to a game for Georgia. For Georgia to be successful this year Tav King and Orson Charles need to step up their game this year.