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UGA freshmen will play, but which ones?


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UGA freshmen will play, but which ones?

Kicker Walsh, WR Green may get hardest looks by coaches


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 02/25/08

Now that Georgia¹s class is in, the debate truly begins: Who will make the most impact where?

Not in the future, but now.

Every year Georgia typically plays between five and seven true freshman.

Last year it was five: Trinton Sturdivant, Clint Boling, Rennie Curran, Bruce Figgins and Vance Cuff. The first four were big contributors and, at times, every-down players. Cuff was a solid special teams contributor.

The upcoming season the numbers may not go that deep because Georgia returns 17 of 22 starters. But still some true freshmen will play. And it could, once again, be as many as five. The coaches are not ready to say who, but the following are a few names to keep an eye on.

Wide receiver A.J. Green should be a factor on the outside because of the matriculation of Sean Bailey and his own innate playmaking ability.

"We feel like he is going to come in with the mindset that he is going to compete and that he is going to add some much needed depth and some much needed playmaking ability to our offense," said recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner. "You would like to give (quarterback Matthew Stafford as many weapons you could get with Knowshon (Moreno) at running back, the receivers, the tight ends, all those things."

Kicker Blair Walsh is sure to get every opportunity to become the starter. Walsh, the top rated prep kicker in the country, has proven he has the leg.

But being a freshmen and kicking on the road in the SEC can be difficult.

Georgia does have a back up plan with Drew Butler. Butler was signed as a punter in 2007, but is a capable kicker who will see some work at that position.

Another obvious position is running back. Two players are enrolled early, Dontavious Jackson and Richard Samuel. Both are vying for the third string spot and the winner of that competition this spring and fall will most likely see some action.

Georgia could have a true freshman playing on the offensive line as well.(Two, Boling and Sturdivant, started there last season.) Ben Jones, who enrolled at the midyear, is being groomed to be the starting center by fall.

Chris Davis, the would-be starter in that spot, has struggled through the offseason with a hip injury. Kevin Perez is another center candidate. But Jones will almost certainly get playing time at center and could be the starter.

One place to watch is the defensive line. There are a couple of reason for that: First, if A.J. Harmon comes in at Georgia's target weight - less than 315 pounds - he will be allowed to play on the defensive line. That is the deal he struck with the coaches. If that happens, Harmon may be utilized as a backup. If it doesn't, he will be on the offensive line.

Then all eyes could turn to Toby Jackson as a potential backup on D-line. Just where Jackson would be a backup is another question.

"I don¹t know what he is but he is something," Garner said. "God blessed him more than he blessed some."

Defensive ends coach Jon Fabris appears lukewarm to the idea of playing a true freshman at defensive end.

"We don't like to play freshmen, but we have played freshmen so we will have to wait and see how we go," he said.

They will also have to see how deep they go. Fabris pointed out that six defensive ends played in the first half against Hawaii and seven played in the game. Depth could be an issue since Brandon Wood hurt his Achilles in mat drills.

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