National signing day has passed and now it’s time to figure out which of the incoming players will see action in their first year on campus.
For the Georgia Bulldogs, they signed 32 players and of those 32, a fair amount of them could see action on the field in 2013. This is especially true on the defensive side of the unit, which will be without 12 starters from last year.
Of the 32 signees, 13 of them have enrolled early, so they will have an edge on the competition when summer practice starts. But that doesn’t mean that they will have a starting job in the fall because the rest of the incoming freshmen will be ready to contribute any way they can.
Here are four signees who will start as freshman.
Out of all the recruits the Bulldogs signed on national signing day, Davin Bellamy might be the one that makes the biggest impact.
The 6’5’’, 235-pound defensive end has the right size to play outside linebacker in Todd Grantham’s 3-4 scheme.
But if he gains more muscle once he enters the workout program, he will be big enough to play defensive end.
In his last two years at Chamblee High School, Bellamy registered 10 sacks, which is not bad considering he was injured the majority of his senior year.
Bellamy could be the next Cornelius Washington because he has the ability to play both outside linebacker and defensive end, but can also get after the quarterback no matter where he is on the field.
With Shawn Williams and Baccari Rambo gone, both safety positions are up for grabs.
The Bulldogs are hoping that Tray Matthews can be the next productive safety for the Bulldogs, and he has all the tools to do it.
Matthews was listed as the seventh best safety prospect in the county by Rivals and he also took part in the Army All-American Bowl.
In his senior year at Newnan High School in Newnan, Ga., Matthews registered 51 tackles and two tackles for loss. Matthews also had 528 receiving yards and 42 rushing yards while playing offense.
Matthews was one of the early enrollees, so he will have a clear edge on the rest of the new safeties when summer practice begins.
With Alec Ogletree gone, the Bulldogs are looking for a new inside linebacker.
Ryne Rankin was listed as the 16th best linebacker in the country according to 247sports and he’s also graded as a 4-star player according to ESPN.
Rankin has not only enrolled early, he practiced with the team before they played in the Capital One Bowl.
Rankin plays with a lot of intensity and has all the intangibles to be a very effective linebacker in the SEC.
The Bulldogs needed added depth at the cornerback position because Sanders Commings and Branden Smith have moved on.
In comes Shaq Wiggins, who could be the best cornerback prospect in the state and one of the 50 best prospects in the country.
At 5’9’’, 160 pounds, Wiggins will not be the biggest defensive back on the field but he also really impressed scouts and coaches when he was able to cover some of the best wide receivers in the country in the Army All-American Game.
There are other freshmen who have a chance to start or see a good amount of playing time in their first year.
Linebacker Johnny O’Neal is a tackling machine and will really help the unit in run defense.
J.J. Green can play numerous positions and could be the fastest player on the team.
Running back A.J. Turman is a big body. He has a chance to be used in short-yardage situations.
With 32 new players joining the team, it will be interesting to see how they work with the veterans. But if the new guys can play like the freshmen of 2012 did (Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley, to be more specific), they will have no problems fitting in with the upperclassmen, and that could lead to another 10-win season.