Georgia Football: Predicting the Starters for Each Bulldogs Position in 2016

Brian Jones@Brian_L_JonesContributor IJanuary 20, 2016

Georgia Football: Predicting the Starters for Each Bulldogs Position in 2016

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    Brett Davis/Associated Press

    We are less than a month away from national signing day, and Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart is on the road working hard to get some of the best players in the country to play in Athens in 2016. But when national signing day is over, that is when the real fun begins. 

    In March, the Bulldogs will start spring practice, and we will have an early look at what the 2016 squad will look like.

    With players such as Leonard Floyd, Jordan Jenkins and John Theus moving on, there will be some key positions to fill on both sides of the ball. So who has a chance to win the open positions? Because of the new coaching staff, will we see an entirely new lineup on offense and defense? 

    Here’s an early look at the projected starters for the 2016 season.

Quarterback

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    Darren Abate/Associated Press

    Jacob Eason 

    This is what every UGA fans wants.

    Greyson Lambert was solid but not spectacular in 2016. So Jacob Eason should and will have a chance to win the starting job when spring practice begins.

    Eason is the top-rated quarterback prospect in the country and has the same tools as Matthew Stafford had when he was at Georgia from 2006 to 2008. However, Eason did struggle in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, completing six of his 13 passes for 71 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.

    Regardless, Eason will be working with an offensive coordinator in Jim Chaney who will put him in position to make plays. Fans will have to be patient with Eason, but he will eventually be a very good signal-caller for the Bulldogs.

Running Back

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Nick Chubb

    Nick Chubb will be one of the players to watch in the SEC this season because he will be playing with a chip on his shoulder.

    Chubb suffered a season-ending knee injury in October, which altered what the Bulldogs wanted to do on offense and in some ways took the life out of the team the rest of the season.

    The rising junior has been working hard to be ready for the season opener, which should happen barring any setbacks. He rushed for 747 yards on 92 carries and scored seven touchdowns in five full games. He will be the key to the Bulldogs' success in 2016.

Wide Receivers

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    Terry Godwin
    Terry GodwinScott Cunningham/Getty Images

    Terry Godwin, Reggie Davis

    Terry Godwin was the best Bulldogs newcomer in 2015. He was second on the team in receptions (35), receiving yards (379) and receiving touchdowns (two). He also had 50 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown.

    Reggie Davis had his struggles in 2015 but can be a solid receiver if he can be more consistent. He recorded 12 receptions for 187 yards and one touchdown last season.

    There are other receivers to watch as well, such as Isaiah McKenzie and Michael Chigbu. Godwin and Davis will likely begin the season as the starters, but it would not be a surprise if all four players get an equal amount of snaps over the season in order to maximize the passing game.

Tight Ends

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    Jeb Blazevich
    Jeb BlazevichKim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Jeb Blazevich, Jackson Harris

    Because Smart comes from a program that runs the one-back system, there’s a chance the Bulldogs will start two tight ends consistently. That means the Jeb Blazevich and Jackson Harris will see plenty of snaps in the fall.

    The production was not there from the tight end position last season due to the inconsistent quarterback play. Blazevich had 15 receptions for 144 yards and one score, while Harris, who was a true freshman, tallied four receptions for 50 yards. Both Blazevich and Harris look to have better prospects in the new offense.

Offensive Line

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    Greg Pyke (73)
    Greg Pyke (73)Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Greg Pyke, Brandon Kublanow, Isaiah Wynn, Dyshon Sims, Kendall Baker

    The most interesting position group has to be the offensive line because it’s a big factor in Chaney’s different schemes.

    Greg Pyke, Brandon Kublanow and Isaiah Wynn are back from last season and all three played well. Dyshon Sims and Kendall Baker were one of the two-deep last season and are the leading candidates to take over for John Theus and Kolton Houston. Incoming freshman Ben Cleveland could also see some action as well.

    The offensive line was solid last season, but it will need to be more physical in order for the offense to take the next step.

Defensive Line

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    Trenton Thompson (78)
    Trenton Thompson (78)Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

    John Atkins, Trenton Thompson, Jonathan Ledbetter

    This will be a position group where there will be a ton of youth because four starters from last year are gone.

    John Atkins will likely man the middle. He played in 10 games last season and posted 12 tackles and one tackle for loss. Trenton Thompson will likely start at defensive end, and he was productive last year, recording 25 tackles and half a sack in 12 games.

    Jonathan Ledbetter should get a good shot at winning the other defensive end spot. He played in seven games and posted four tackles. The defensive line will be a position group to watch during spring and fall practice because every spot is up for grabs.

Linebackers

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    Lorenzo Carter (7)
    Lorenzo Carter (7)Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    Tim Kimbrough, Reggie Carter, Lorenzo Carter, Davin Bellamy

    The linebacker position will be just as interesting because the Bulldogs are losing three starters from last season.

    Tim Kimbrough will be the leader due to his experience. He was third on the team in tackles with 67 and he also posted 5.5 tackles for loss. Reggie Carter will get a shot at winning the other inside linebacker position after suffering a season-ending injury early last season.

    After a productive rookie season in 2014, Lorenzo Carter took a step back last season as he did not record a sack. He finished with 19 tackles and six quarterback hurries in 13 games. Davin Bellamy saw plenty of action as the third outside linebacker, and he was able to produce. He tallied 33 tackles, three sacks and recovered one fumble.

Secondary

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    Dominick Sanders
    Dominick SandersFrederick Breedon/Getty Images

    Quincy Mauger, Dominick Sanders, Aaron Davis, Malkom Parrish

    This will be the strongest unit of the Bulldogs defense. All four starters from last season will be back and all four were the reason the Bulldogs ranked first in the FBS in pass defense.

    Quincy Mauger and Dominick Sanders make up what could be the best safety duo in the SEC. Mauger posted 58 tackles, and Sanders led the SEC with six interceptions.

    Aaron Davis and Malkom Parrish were strong at the cornerback positions. Davis had two fumble recoveries and an interception, while Parrish had 42 tackles and two interceptions.

    Defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach Mel Tucker has a talented group to work with this upcoming season.