Assuming that Roderick Battle, lost for the season in week two, is not made eligible for a sixth-year, the Georgia Bulldogs will head into the 2010 season with seven defensive ends.
Two of those ends will be juniors, DeMarcus Dobbs and Kiante Tripp, while the rest of the depth chart will be filled out by underclassmen.
The perception of the Dawgs overall defensive line play was that it wasn't aggressive enough in getting to the quarterback—there simply wasn't enough pressure thought to be coming off the edge.
However, in actuality, the Dawgs increased their sack production from last season (23) by five (28) and finished 36th in the nation in quarterback sacks—good enough for 4th in the SEC.
A big reason for that bump was the emergence of Justin Houston, a sophomore, who had six solo sacks to go along with three assisted.
It is hoped that he can continue that production next season and that the team can find another guy to provide added pressure from the opposite end.
Cornelius Washington could be just what the doctor ordered in that case as the talented freshman had four solo sacks on the year. That said, the Dawgs have not been shy about getting some new blood into the mix during this recruiting season either.
Currently, Georgia has five commits at the position, and they are continuing to target more talent.
Here's a rundown of the guys Georgia has in their coiffures as of now:
Brandon Burrows: Walton High School, Marietta, Ga. (verbal commitment)
Burrows is 6'3", 235 lb, and listed as a DE/RB. He has the athleticism to play running back but is better suited on the defensive side of the ball.
He was unable to produce on the field the way he would of liked this season due to an ACL injury, but he's a hard worker and has been training all season in anticipation of joining the Dawgs come spring.
As a defensive end prospect, Burrows is supremely talented and focused. One of his greatest assets is his ability to get off the line with good burst. He is very explosive and is particularly intelligent with respect to his pursuit of the ball carrier.
He has good speed for his size and is solidly built to handle the opposition.
He needs to develop a repertoire of moves to go along with his strength and power, but he's got a firm foundation on which to build upon.
B.J. Butler: Osceola High School, Kissimmee, Fla. (verbal commitment)
Butler is 6'3", 253 lb, and runs a 4.7 forty. He is a versatile athlete, having played at not only the end spot but also at linebacker and quarterback.
He could play linebacker in the SEC, but his best bet is to remain at defensive end and mature into his frame—he still has room to add some bulk to his already nice frame.
One of the things that stands out about Butler on film is his ability to come off the edge with great speed and make the big play. He's especially good at changing direction and maintaining his momentum towards the ball.
Butler is said to be solid in his commitment to the Dawgs, but that has not stopped schools like Florida from continuing to stay in contact with him.
Jalen Fields: Dalton High School, Dalton, Ga. (verbal commitment)
Fields stand 6'5" and weighs in at 250 lb. He's a big kid but has run a 4.67 forty minus the pads.
As a defensive end prospect, his skills are still materializing. He has a knack for getting to the quarterback quickly but sometimes has a problem releasing himself from the hold of an offensive lineman at the point of attack—thereby delaying his progress towards the quarterback or ball handler.
He has played some tight end and does a nice job as a pass-catcher and blocker on the line.
He has a ton of potential due largely to his frame but will need to be motivated and challenged early on by the coaching staff in order to meet his full potential.
Dexter Morant: Manning High School, Manning, S.C. (verbal commitment)
Dexter is quick. He's 6'6" and weighs around 230 lb. He's got good explosion off the line and a knack for getting into the backfield quickly.
He's a playmaker at Manning High School, and the level of competition he's played thus far has not allowed him to fully realize his potential.
I consider him to be one of the sleepers in this years signing class and suspect, after speaking with him, that he's ready to come to Athens and make his presence felt in any way that he can.
He will definitely need to add some muscle and bulk to his frame if he is going to be successful in the SEC, but he's got the dedication and work ethic to get the job done, and it wouldn't surprise me if he ends up being a solid contributor.
T.J. Stripling: Southwest Dekalb High School, Decatur, Ga. (verbal commitment)
Stripling (pictured) is fast. He gets to the ball carrier with ease and has no problem in backside pursuit.
His 6'6" height is phenomenal but his 215 lb. needs some attention for SEC play. He'll need to work closely with the strength and conditioning coaches to target his weight training program. He should specifically focus on his lower body where he could benefit from a little more leg drive and power when going up against those big lineman.
Stripling is good at getting off the line with excellent quickness, and he has nice instincts after the snap. He's not easily knocked off the ball and has the speed to make up for any mistakes he makes in reading a play.
In run support, he could use a little more work but, he has the ability to be an adequate run stopper if given the proper coaching.