The SEC East is wide open in 2014 thanks to a slew of key player departures including the starting quarterbacks for the top four teams in the division from last year.
Georgia will hope to get back to the top of the SEC East pack with new starting quarterback and veteran backup Hutson Mason taking the snaps. Luckily for Mason and the Bulldogs, he'll have plenty of help around him.
Running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall and wide receivers Michael Bennett, Justin Scott-Wesley and Chris Conley all return to help ease his transition to the starting role.
But one veteran seems to be getting overlooked in Georgia's offensive arsenal.
Wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell.
A freshman All-SEC selection in 2011, Mitchell caught 40 passes for 572 yards and four touchdowns in 2012 and was expected to emerge as a bona fide superstar last year. But he tore his ACL celebrating a Todd Gurley touchdown in Georgia's season-opening loss to Clemson and missed the entire season.
He'll likely miss spring practice as he continues his recovery, but once he gets back to full speed, he'll give Mason and the entire offense a veteran playmaker outside with fantastic hands who knows how to get open.
Think of all the options that gives Mason and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo.
Georgia's offense is always predicated on the run—which will be in good hands with Gurley. Injuries throughout the 2013 season allowed Bennett, Scott-Wesley and Conley all to establish themselves as multi-dimensional receivers who can stretch the field but also go over the middle in key situations.
With Mitchell now in the mix, the receiver group can now settle back into more traditional roles while still providing Bobo the flexibility to get creative with his formations if and when he needs to.
The absence of established quarterbacks in the SEC East will draw a lot of attention this offseason, but don't forget that four of the last five BCS National Championship-winning quarterbacks were first-year starters, and seven of the last 10 starting quarterbacks in the BCS National Championship Game were first-year starters.
Experience at the quarterback position isn't a pre-requisite for success, especially if there's talent elsewhere on that offense.
Georgia had talent all over the field on offense last year even without Mitchell and will get a boost when he returns at 100 percent this season. He'll provide Mason a veteran presence that he can rely on, which will work wonders in Mason's transition to the starting quarterback role.
*Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All statistics are courtesy of CFBStats.com.
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