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Dawgs Freshmen have chances to impact 2008 team.


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Offensive linemen Trinton Sturdivant and Clint Boling and linebacker Rennie Curran went from 2007 Georgia signees to 2007 Georgia starters on a team that won its final seven games, including the Sugar Bowl.

The Bulldogs signed a 23-player recruiting class last week that could also have several impact players bolster an experienced team eyeing a national title run in 2008.

Will kicker Blair Walsh step in as a freshman for Georgia coach Mark Richt just like Scott Bentley did for Florida State in 1993 during the Seminoles' national championship season when Richt was an assistant? Can A.J. Green make a contribution at wide receiver like freshman Anquan Boldin did in 1999 for the national title-winning Seminoles when Richt was offensive coordinator?

"A.J. has a really, really big upside," Georgia recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner said. "We feel like hopefully he's going to come in with the mindset that he's going to compete and he's going to add some much-needed depth and some much-needed playmaking ability to our offense. You would like to be able to give (Matthew) Stafford as many weapons as he could get."

The last two national champions leaned on their most recent recruiting classes in different ways en route to titles.

LSU won the BCS national title last month with eight players from its 2007 signing class seeing action, led by transfer wideout Demetrius Byrd.

Byrd had 35 catches for 621 yards and seven touchdowns. Safety Chad Jones (34 tackles) and receiver Terrance Toliver (10 catches, 249 yards, three TDs) played reserve roles.

Florida played 14 first-year freshmen during its run to the national title in 2006 including quarterback Tim Tebow and receiver Percy Harvin.

Walsh, a USA Today All-USA first-team pick from Boca Raton, Fla., appears to be the one player who could walk into a starting position after Brandon Coutu and three other kickers from last year's roster departed.

Center Ben Jones from Centreville, Ala, is already enrolled and will compete for the starting center job. Richard Samuel, Dontavius Jackson and Carlton Thomas could earn playing time at running back.

"There's a lot of guys that I think could come in and have a role as a true freshman," said Tom Luginbill, national recruiting director for ESPN's Scouts Inc. "A.J. Green, I think is going to be a target right off the bat for Matthew Stafford."

That's the general consensus nationally for Green, a Parade All-American who drew comparisons to Randy Moss early at Summerville (S.C.) High School. Contrary to some reports, Green is on track to qualify academically, Summerville offensive coordinator Joe Call said.

"He's good to go," Call said. "All he's got to do is make sure that he graduates, which is not going to be a problem. He's worked so hard on his grades over the last two years."

The 6-foot-4 Green is lifting weights harder than he ever has and is now up to 197 pounds.

"I don't think he'll be ready to jump in and start, but I can see him getting in during certain situations," Call said. "It might be closer to the goal-line and throw one up to him. I think he'll definitely be in the rotation at receiver. He's coming in at the beginning of the summer so he'll be lifting weights. I think he has the ability to end up starting, but not many true freshmen walk in and start the first game."

Georgia assistant Jon Fabris, who recruited Green, was struck by how humble he is for how much hype he received in high school.

"I think that will go over well with the older kids that will want to work with him," Fabris said. "They even commented on his official visit that they liked him."

Call said don't be surprised if the game at South Carolina on Sept. 13 is a coming out party for Green. The Gamecocks continued to woo Green after his 2006 commitment to Georgia.

"I know we're all fired up," Call said. "We're already talking about who all is going to that game."

Richt already knows what it's like to live through the ups and downs of a freshman kicker in 1993 with Bentley when Richt was Florida State's quarterbacks coach.

"He had a game-winning kick in the national championship game," Richt said. "That's pretty crucial. You just have to make your short to intermediate field goals and hopefully pop a big one every once in a while to win as many close games as we'll play."

Bentley kicked four field goals including a 22-yard field goal with 21 seconds remaining to beat Nebraska 18-16 in the Orange Bowl to win the national title.

Now Walsh will get a chance to make a similar impact for Georgia.

"There's obviously pressure going into the job," Walsh said, "when it is wide open and you've had somebody for four years that's been so stable and so good for you and you have a new face, a new guy coming in as a freshman."

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bulldogfalcon (2/13/2008)
AJ Green is up to 197, man he is tuning up to be a beast!!! I feel sorry for opposing nickel and eventually starting :-D

I feel sorry for our competition who have to face this offense. We are loaded at wr and rb we have some great olinemen and bobo will have a whole year under his belt calling plays. This is going to be fun to watch. UGA will be one of the top offenses in the SEC.

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bulldogfalcon (2/13/2008)
As long as Staff can keep down on the forced throws and keep progressing mentally the offense can flourish and give Bobo a reason to unleash What could be the most balanced attack I can remember at UGA.

Of all the games I have watched and the seasons I have seen I can't remember one UGA team that was this talented and balanced and not just on offense, but on both offense and defense. I hope then can finish the job.

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