Georgia Football: Position-by-Position Spring Practice Preview
Saturdays have not been the same since the college football season ended. But the 2013 season will start back up this Saturday for the Georgia Bulldogs (sort of) because that is the first day of spring practice.
And just like any other spring practice season, there will be a lot of questions that have to be answered. However, there is always a high level of excitement because with spring practice comes the spring game in April, which gives fans an opportunity to get an early look at the 2013 Bulldogs.
The spring game also means that the countdown to the 2013 season has begun. The Bulldogs will kick off their season in four-and-a-half months after the G-Day game.
Here’s a position-by-position spring practice preview.
This will be Aaron Murray’s final spring practice session and he will be only looking to get better.
In a 2012 season where he threw for 3,893 yards and 36 touchdowns, the expectations for Murray will be at an all-time high, especially with the Bulldogs reaching the SEC title game with him the last two seasons.
What will be interesting to see is who will be the guy that will take Murray’s spot in 2014. Coming into spring practice, there will be four other quarterbacks that will be looking to be the next starting quarterback, including Hutson Mason, Christian LeMay, Parker Welch and newly signed Brice Ramsey.
Mason and Welch have the most experience, but LeMay and Ramsey have more of an upside. There is no question these four quarterbacks need to have a great spring to increase their stock for next season.
Just like the quarterback position, the running back and fullback positions are set and look to be strong in 2013.
Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall make a dangerous combination in the backfield and will show no signs of slowing down this year.
With Ken Malcome transferring, the Bulldogs will have to find a No. 3 back. That will go to either Brandon Harton or Alex Parsons because of experience.
Alexander Ogletree is back at fullback, but so is Merritt Hall. Ogletree started at fullback the second half of the season after Hall went down with an injury.
Then there’s also Quayvon Hicks, who was highly recruited last year.
Because of how Ogletree played towards the end of the year, he will be the No. 1 fullback going into spring practice, but if Hall is healthy, he could very well be back at the No.1 spot by the end of spring practice.
Marlon Brown and Tavarres King may be gone, but that doesn’t mean that the wide receiver position will be lacking in talent.
Malcolm Mitchell will be solely focused on offense and should have a career season.
Michael Bennett also makes his return but he is recovering from a knee injury. So it’s uncertain if he will see any time during spring practice.
Because of Bennett’s injury, players such as Justin Scott-Wesley, Rantavious Wooten, Chris Conley and even Blake Tibbs should see a lot of action this spring. Scott-Wesley could be the favorite to take over the No. 3 position full-time because of the performance he had in the Capital One Bowl back in January.
The tight end position will be the same. Arthur Lynch and Jay Rome will be back for another year together.
Both players came on strong towards the end of the year and both are big targets for Murray, which makes the offense even more dangerous.
Ty Smith is another player to watch, but because of his recent off-the-field issues, there’s a chance he could see some disciplinary action from Richt and not see a lot of time on the field this spring, and even in the fall.
What was a weakness coming into last year’s spring practice could very well be the team’s biggest strength, as all five starters from the offensive line last year make their way to this year’s spring session.
The offensive line will be led by rising seniors Dallas Lee, Kenarious Gates and Chris Burnette, while David Andrews and John Theus look to be much improved from last year.
One thing to watch for is if Kolton Houston will be eligible to play this year. Houston was schedule to be the starting right tackle last season but the NCAA ruled him ineligible for using banned substances. He is currently not with the team this spring.
The loss of the 12 defensive starters has been well-documented this offseason.
On the defensive line, the Bulldogs will have to replace nose tackles John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers as well as defensive ends Abry Jones and Cornelius Washington.
Defensive end Garrison Smith returns after a solid 2012 season,as well as defensive end Ray Drew, who is looking to live up to the high expectations put on him.
As for the nose tackle position, John Taylor will likely be the No. 1 guy, but Mike Thornton and John Atkins will also get some looks at the position this spring and fall.
Replacing linebackers Jarvis Jones, Alec Ogletree, Michael Gilliard and Christian Robinson will not be an easy task, but the Bulldogs have enough talent that they won’t be missed too much.
Jordan Jenkins had a strong 2012 season and comes into the spring session as one of the leaders on defense. He will look to be the dominant edge rusher like Jones was the last two seasons.
Who will start at the other outside linebacker position will be interesting. Chase Vasser started last season opposite of Jones, but lost the job to Jenkins midway through. T.J. Stripling will vie for playing time, as well as freshmen James DeLoach and Josh Dawson.
Amarlo Herrera is the one inside linebacker that has the most experience. Like Jenkins, he will have to be a leader for the rest of the linebackers.
Early enrollee Ryne Rankin got to practice with the team before the Capital One Bowl and could see a lot of action this spring. But Brandon Burrows, who was injured for all of 2011 and thought about transferring last season, is looking to make a name for himself at the inside linebacker spot.
Damian Swann is the only returning starter from the secondary. He looks to have another big year after recording four interceptions to go along with his 53 tackles.
Who will start alongside Swann at the cornerback position will be another interesting position battle as Sheldon Dawson, Blake Sailors and Devin Bowman look to win the battle on the outside.
Both safety positions are up for grabs, but Corey Moore will likely be the No. 1 strong safety coming into spring practice, while Sailors could make his way to free safety if he does not win at cornerback.
Josh Harvey-Clemons will see a lot of work at the safety spots, as will Devin Gillespie. Both players will be rising true sophomores this spring.