True freshmen usually don't get many opportunities to compete for a starting position right out of high school—especially when you play for a nationally ranked team.
Georgia finished No. 5 overall in this year's ESPN's class of 2012 team football recruiting rankings, and this is the second straight year that Georgia has signed a top-five running back.
Running backs Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley look to be a dynamic duo this year for the Bulldogs. Both are true freshmen with different running styles who can make a major impact for the Dawgs this season.
Keith Marshall was ranked the No. 2 running back coming out of high school last season and, according to ESPN 150, he was ranked No. 5 overall. Although he is not starting for the Dawgs yet, he will have a lot of touches this season.
Todd Gurley is the other true freshman running back who will make an immediate impact this season. The 6'0", 205-pound Gurley is a well-rounded back who came out of high school as a 4-star recruit. Expected to support Ken Malcome this season, Gurley made some serious noise in offseason practices and summer scrimmages. He will be one to watch this season as he fights for some major playing time.
On the offensive line, John Theus is big man, standing 6'6" and weighing 295 lbs. This big blocker from Jacksonville, Fla., could be the starter at left tackle by the time Georgia kicks off the 2012 season against Buffalo. He was the fifth-ranked OT prospect in the nation according to ESPN, and the Dawgs are in need of depth along the offensive line.
Theus will help balance out the front five for UGA with his power and drive to become an immediate impact player.
Incoming freshman Ty Smith is battling Jay Rome and Arthur Lynch for the starting position this season. When talking about who will follow in Orson Charles footsteps, Coach Mark Richt said, "We have a lot of things in our arsenal for the tight end position. I will say this: They're catching a bunch of balls every day in practice. We've just got to see who does what the best and what route concepts make the most sense," according to David Ching of ESPN's DawgNation.com.
On the defensive side of things, a number of true freshmen will get a lot of playing time, according to Todd Grantham defensive coordinator for the Bulldogs.
Jordan Jenkins and Josh Harvey-Clemons are among a few of the true freshmen who will receive major playing time this season. The two linebackers have impressed so much in preseason practice that the Bulldogs are going to have to find ways to put them on the field.
Jenkins, an outside linebacker, should get a lot of snaps on the opposite side of All-American linebacker Jarvis Jones. Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said, via The News Tribune, “You’ve got to get certain kinds of play-makers, and obviously Jordan’s one of those kinds of guys."
The Bulldog coaching staff plans to utilize Harvey-Clemons' versatility, as he will alternate between safety, nickel cornerback and outside linebacker, according to Seth Emerson of the Ledger-Enquirer.
Which Freshmen Will Have a Better Season?
Todd Grantham also spoke of Josh Dawson saying, "He's done a really good job. He continues to get better every day. He just takes strides every day to play," according to Ching.
Josh Dawson has been making a name for himself as a reserve linebacker and a special teams player. Coach Grantham has made it very clear that Josh Dawson will see the field this season and confirmed that after Thursday's practice, Ching reports.
Right now Josh Dawson is fighting for a spot on the traveling team, and in the same article for ESPN's DawgNation, Georgia's senior linebacker Christian Robinson, when speaking about Josh Dawson, said, "I think he has the ability to make a push to be one of those guys for us that can be counted on for those away trips."
With Chase Vasser suspended for the first two games, Dawson has a better chance of making the travel squad.
Georgia has recruited well and has a lot of decisions to finalize prior to the Sept. 1 opener against Buffalo, but one thing is for sure—these true freshmen are the future of Georgia football and will add depth to this year's roster while making an immediate impact for the Dawgs!