Position-by-Position Preview of the Georgia Bulldogs' 2014 Roster
Summertime is here and the preview magazines are starting to hit the newsstands. So the 2014 college football season is right around the corner.
With the new season coming, expectations will be high for every team in the FBS. And that is no different for the Georgia Bulldogs, who return a deep roster.
There will be some new faces like there are every year, and there are some key players who were on last year’s team who will be missed. But looking at each position, the Bulldogs could have the most talented roster in the SEC.
But is that good enough to win the SEC and have a chance to play in the College Football Playoff?
Here’s a position-by-position preview of the Bulldogs’ 2014 roster.
Hutson Mason will be the new man in charge since Aaron Murray is gone. However, this is not new territory for Mason because he got to play the majority of the Kentucky game as well as all of the Georgia Tech and Nebraska game due to Murray’s ACL tear.
But the real question is who is going to be the backup to Mason? Brice Ramsey and Faton Bauta were battling for the position during spring practices and both did a lot of things well. Bauta was the backup for Mason last season, so he has the edge due to experience.
Jacob Park, a true freshman, enrolled early and worked with the team in the spring. He will likely take a redshirt.
This is a position that is deep, but Todd Gurley is the guy who stands out more than anyone. Keith Marshall would be up there as well, but he missed the majority of the 2013 season with an ACL tear. Both Gurley and Marshall should do some damage this season if they stay healthy.
Who will back them up will be one of the storylines of preseason practice. A.J. Turman had a very productive spring as well as Brendan Douglas. Going by experience, Douglas would be the guy who will get the reps, but Turman is stronger and faster.
And let’s not forget about incoming freshmen Sony Michel and Nick Chubb. Both are highly recruited running backs but both could redshirt because of depth at the position.
Kyle Karempelis, a senior, will provide leadership to a talented group.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Malcolm Mitchell, Justin Scott-Wesley, Michael Bennett and Chris Conley could make up the best group of receivers in the SEC if they can stay healthy. Both Mitchell and Scott-Wesley are coming off ACL injuries but both should be good to go for the opener against Clemson.
Fans should also look out for Jonathon Rumph and Reggie Davis. In four games, Rumph caught seven passes for 121 yards. Davis played in 11 games and caught 11 passes for 257 yards.
As far as the tight end position goes, Jay Rome and Jordan Davis will be the two guys at the top of the depth chart. Rome has the size and athleticism to be an elite tight end, but he also needs to stay healthy. Davis is looking to get on the field for the first time in his college career.
The offensive line lost three starters from last season, but they have a few players who can fill in because of the experience they have gained over the last two seasons.
Kolton Houston, John Theus and David Andrews are the returning starters. Andrews will be the one who has to be a leader and that’s not because he’s the center. He has been the most consistent lineman the last few seasons and has a chance to be an All-SEC player this season.
As for the rest of the linemen, fans should expect to see Greg Pyke, Mark Beard, Brandon Kublanow and Watts Dantzler battle it out for two starting positions. The lineman to watch is Kublanow because he really came into his own last year as a freshman.
The starting three on the defensive line could still be in question, but the talent is never an issue. Sterling Bailey, Jonathan Taylor and James DeLoach were on the first team this spring, but defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt is still looking at all the players he has on the defensive line, with nothing set in stone yet.
Ray Drew, Mike Thornton, Chris Mayes, John Atkins, Josh Dawson and Toby Johnson are the top players looking to get in the starting rotation. Drew is the defensive lineman to watch because he tallied six sacks last season, which was second on the team behind Leonard Floyd.
And speaking of Floyd, he along with Jordan Jenkins, Amarlo Herrera and Ramik Wilson make up possibly the best set of linebackers in the country. All four linebackers can fly sideline-to-sideline and both can get after the quarterback.
The reserves are no slouches either. Davin Bellamy, Reggie Carter, Tim Kimbrough and Johnny O’Neal did well during spring practices and have the benefit of learning from a unit that works well together.
Other players to watch are Ryne Rankin, Shaun McGee and incoming freshman Lorenzo Carter. There is no telling where Carter will play, but based on the way the defense is set up and Carter’s size, he will have more success at outside linebacker.
This is the most interesting unit on the roster.
When it comes to the cornerbacks, Damian Swann is the No. 1 guy. After that it will be interesting. Aaron Davis was the other starter this spring, but guys like Reggie Wilkerson, Sheldon Dawson and Devin Bowman will be looking to take his spot.
Corey Moore and Tray Matthews are slated to be the starting safeties. Matthews showed promise last season and Moore should provide leadership in the secondary. Quincy Mauger has the ability to play both positions and Lucas Redd is another player who provides experience.
But the one player to watch is Tramel Terry. He moved to safety from receiver earlier this year and he told Seth Emerson of the Macon Telegraph back in April that he made the move because he didn't recover to his previous level after knee surgery, and that he’s trying to get some of his swagger back.