Georgia Football: 5 Bulldogs That Will Surprise in 2013
Fall practice begins soon for the Bulldogs and the fans can’t wait for head coach Mark Richt and his men to get back to work.
We know what to expect from players like Aaron Murray, Keith Marshall, Todd Gurley and Malcolm Mitchell as they are looking to lead the Bulldogs to a BCS title.
But in order for that to happen, some of the younger players have to exceed expectations. These players have to be on top of their game each week and not be afraid to take risks. The Bulldogs had it with Gurley and Marshall last year, but who will be the next group of Bulldogs to take the world by storm?
Here’re five Bulldogs that will surprise in 2013.
No. 5: OT John Theus
John Theus had a solid 2012 season at right tackle and even made the Freshman All-America Team.
Theus was working at left tackle toward the end of spring practice, but it has not been confirmed he will take the place of Kenarious Gates.
Regardless, Theus should be much improved from last season and will emerge as the rock of the offensive line. He already has tremendous size and started to use his hands better as the 2012 season progressed.
Right now he’s listed as the No. 2 right tackle behind Xzavier Ward. That should change because Theus has too much of an upside and I believe the coaches really want him to play at left tackle.
No. 4: ATH J.J. Green
When J.J. Green was recruited out of Kingsland, Georgia, the thought was to have him play at either receiver or cornerback.
That is still possible, but because of the lack of depth at running back, Green was forced to play that position during spring practice and performed well.
It’s clear that Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall will be the No. 1 and No. 2 running backs coming in to the season. But Green will add another wrinkle to the offense and should make an impact right away.
The fact that he can line up anywhere on the field is a plus. But his speed is the reason he will see a lot of time on the field and he will give opposing defenses fits all game long.
No. 3: SS Josh Harvey-Clemons
The bad news for Josh Harvey-Clemons is that he will miss the season opener against Clemson because of an one-game suspension that was handed to him for marijuana use.
But he will be back for the South Carolina game and fans will get to see why coaches and players were high on him in the spring.
Harvey-Clemons will play at strong safety this season, but will also play the “star” position which is a cross between a corner and a safety.
He’s not expected to be better than Shawn Williams, but he has the tools to be an elite safety in the SEC. Harvey-Clemons was named Defensive MVP at the conclusion of spring practice, and his progression will continue this season.
No. 2: DE Ray Drew
Ray Drew will either beat Sterling Bailey for the starting spot at defensive end, or share time with him.
Either way, Drew will finally have a chance to show what he can do on the field and fans won’t be disappointed.
In 2012, Drew played sparingly at defensive end, backing up Cornelius Washington and Garrison Smith. His best game was against Georgia Tech where he registered eight tackles.
In the spring, Drew made strides during the practices and tallied four tackles in the G-Day game.
Drew is not expected to get 10 sacks this season, but because of his background as a pass-rusher while playing high school ball, Drew should be able to get at least five sacks if he continues to improve.
No. 1: FS Tray Matthews
The one player who should surprise the most is the one who surprised everyone during spring practice.
Tray Matthews, who is a true freshman, worked extremely hard this spring and earned a starting spot a free safety.
He will have his share of mistakes, especially at the start of the season. But he is a hard-hitting safety that rarely misses any tackles.
Matthews has the build, the skill set and the willingness to be the next great safety for Georgia and the next great defensive back in the SEC. It will take some time, but once the Bulldog Nation sees his debut in the opener against Clemson, they will know that Matthews is a special talent right away.