The Georgia Bulldogs suffered a big blow on Wednesday when Kwame Geathers announced his decision to forego his final year of eligibility and declare for the 2013 NFL draft, according to Gentry Estes of Dawgs247.
Had he returned for his senior year, Geathers would have been a key piece in a Bulldogs defense that is losing seven starters from this past season. Geathers, a 355-pound junior from Georgetown, S.C., split time at nose tackle with John Jenkins and finished the year with 40 tackles, including five tackles for loss.
Geathers started in 34 games during his career as a Bulldog and had the athletic ability to shift between playing nose tackle or defensive end.
With Jenkins graduating and Geathers declaring for the draft, Todd Grantham must now turn his attention to finding replacements for the two massive defensive tackles.
Fortunately for the Bulldogs, there appear to be a few different candidates who could thrive playing the nose tackle position in Grantham's 3-4 defense.
The two players currently on the roster who appear ready to compete for the starting role are Jonathan Taylor and Mike Thornton. Thornton is 300-pound rising junior who was one of Grantham's first recruits when he became Mark Richt's defensive coordinator. Taylor is 330-pound highly touted recruit who redshirted this past season as a freshman.
Along with those two players, Georgia could also turn to some new faces who could earn playing time at the nose tackle position in 2013.
After clearing up some paperwork issues, the Bulldogs received word from the NCAA that John Atkins could enroll at UGA this semester. Atkins is a 310-pound defensive tackle who spent the past year at Hargrave Military Academy.
Georgia is also still in the running for two major defensive line recruits, Montravius Adams and Toby Johnson, according to 247Sports. If either or both of these players commit to the Bulldogs, they could see immediate playing time at nose tackle.
While these players will be young, Mark Richt and his staff have done a good job of creating depth at the nose tackle position. Geathers will be missed, but it appears Georgia has players who are ready to seize the opportunity in 2013.