Georgia Bulldogs: Players Who Could Make Key Contributions In 2009

Kimberley Nash@sambrooklynSenior Writer IAugust 23, 2009

TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 20: Wide receiver Tavarres King #12 of the Georgia Bulldogs carries on a reception down to the three yard line against the Arizona State Sun Devils on September 20, 2008 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. Georgia won 27-10.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

The Dawgs continue to get little in the way of national respect these days. The gang over at ESPN has already pegged the Gators as the Champions of the SEC East; although to be honest, with Superman back at the helm, it is hard not to pick the Gators.

Still, though, can we at least try and show a little less disrespect to the rest of the SEC East?

Further, there's actually a poll out that lists Coach Richt as the fifth best the SEC. Seriously! If that's not disrespect, I don't know what is—still scratching my head over that one.

However, until the Dawgs can show and prove they are more than just an "underachieving" SEC team, there's little reason for outsiders to give the boys more than a sideways glance when speaking of contenders.

That said, the team is looking for a few good men to step up and play hard this season.

They aren't necessarily "impact" players, at least not yet, but they could be the role players who make the big play at the last minute that can help seal the key victories for the Dawgs in 2009—just like Verron Haynes in 2001, David Pollack in 2002, and Theron Sapp in 1957.

So, who are the guys who could be big? The ones who may be "flying under the Georgia radar" so far this offseason?

Well, just to name a few:

Israel Troupe, Wide Receiver

Israel hasn't played much for Georgia yet, he's had a few looks here and there, but nothing truly substantial.

However, he has the talent to become something special this season.

Georgia is looking to fill the void left by Mohammed Massaquoi last season and wants to be certain that A.J. Green isn't the only guy catching passes from Joe Cox this year.

Yes, Orson Charles, Arthur Lynch, and Marlon Brown are all possibilities, but Israel has been in the system and has the potential to execute better than those guys can coming in as true freshmen.

Add to that the fact that Troupe has dedicated himself fully to football (he was flirting with playing baseball prior to this season) and you could have the makings of a guy who's ready to make a name for himself on the gridiron.

Troupe caught five passes for 38-yards in the G-Day game and has great hands to go along with some very nice speed.

Look for him to contribute early as the other guys attempt to get a handle on the offense.

Tavarres King, Wide Receiver

King already has one very impressive grab to brag about, a 41-yard reception for a touchdown in last season's match-up against the Sun Devils.

Since then, King has been absent from the headlines and the box scores.

Look for that to change this season as Troupe won't be the only receiver who will benefit from the vacancy left by Massaquoi.

King has great speed and phenomenal ball skills—he's elusive after the catch and catches the deep ball well.

Many feel that the Dawgs will be more conservative without a gunner like Stafford at the helm, but that would be a mistake as Bobo will be opening the offense up a bit more this season, thanks in large part to a well-sprung of developing talent at every position.

King won't be the most physical receiver on the field but he has the talent to make big things happen once the ball is in his hands.

Branden Boykin, Cornerback

Boykin is itching to make a difference any way he can this year and his hunger is translating into some very impressive play so far this fall.

He had three tackles and a sack in the G-Day game and was named the Most Improved Defensive Back at the end of spring.

He's got excellent speed and is one of the better players when it comes to coverage skills; he just needs a chance to get on the field and put his hard work into action.

His play so far has given him a lot of confidence and he's betting that he will turn quite a few heads with his physical play this season.

If he does what many feel he's capable of, he will become a solid addition to the secondary and will definitely be one of the keys to defending the pass this year.

Makiri Pugh, Free Safety

Bryan Evans has a pretty good handle on the starting spot thus far, but, beyond him there are few who stand in the way of Pugh making his presence felt—he will definitely see playing time this year.

Pugh hasn't played much thus far due to a recurring ankle injury but he's smart, he's fast, and he's physical.

Combine the three, and you have the makings of one heck of a safety.

Evans is still getting his feet wet so anything is possible, but, no matter what happens with Evan's progress, expect to see Makiri contribute for the Dawgs this year.

Roderick Battle, Defensive End

He's gaining steam on the noise meter this fall, and for good reason.

Battle has shown a ton of improvement at the end spot and will likely be adding to his sack totals in a major way this season.

So far, he's been wreaking havoc in scrimmages, at one point recording six sacks, and giving many the feeling that he's poised for a break-out this season.

If Battle can continue his tear, and it is a good possibility he will, he could be just what the doctor ordered for Dawg fans who have been waiting for the "rush" factor to return to the defensive line.

Add to that the return of Justin Houston and the line, on paper, is looking almost as impressive as the offensive line with Houston, Atkins, Owens, and Battle doing major work for the almighty "G" (as in the "G" on the helmet).

There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic before the first snap and it's important to remain realistic despite the possibilities.

However, if the Dawgs can find a little help from some hidden playmakers this season, it could mean the difference between an average 8-4 (which is what many are predicting) and a "kiss my silver britches" 11-1.

It will be fun to see who takes the challenge of repping the "G" in grand fashion this year.


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