July 7, 2010

Which freshmen will play?

Although it's still way too early to officially say which of Georgia's incoming freshmen will actually make an impact this fall, it's never too early to speculate on such matters.

So, here goes.

With 17 of 24 starters returning, the odds of one of Georgia's true freshmen earning a starting position right off the bat doesn't appear very likely, there will be opportunities for at least some to earn some time in a backup capacity.

Let's take a look.

Offensively, there appears to be fewer opportunities to go around as quarterback Aaron Murray is the lone-non starter as Georgia's offensive line, backfield and receiver corps appear to be entrenched in proverbial stone.

That said, there may be a few cracks in the two-deep for some early PT.

On the offensive line, much depends on how much progress Brent Benedict does as he continues to recover from the severe knee injury he suffered last October.

"Everything's going well. The rehab is going well, and that's going to continue just as soon as I get up there," Benedict said recently "Ron (UGA team trainer Ron Courson) has it all mapped out, although there is no time frame. We're just going to wait and see. Hopefully, it's going to be sooner rather than later."

Odds are, however, that coaches won't take any chances with Benedict, particularly with Georgia having the best depth up front that it's had in several seasons.

Kenarious Gates is very highly thought of as well, but he too appears to be headed for a redshirt year. As for Kolton Houston, the Buford native is ahead of the game after enrolling early in January, but like Gates, could probably benefit from a redshirt season.

Running back Ken Malcome, wide receiver Michael Bennett and yes, perhaps quarterback Hutson Mason appear to be the offensive players with the best chance to seeing game action this fall.

Malcome could potentially see action as a short-yardage back, while Georgia's numbers at wide receiver would seem to indicate that Bennett will at least get an opportunity to prove to position coach Tony Ball that he deserves a chance to get on the field.

As for Mason, obviously much depends on if Logan Gray is completely removed from the quarterback equation or not. If so, don't be surprised to see head coach Mark Richt give the former Lassiter star a snap or two to get him acclimated to the college game.

Defense is where more freshmen should get a chance to shine, especially at outside linebacker where Brandon Burrows, T.J. Stripling and Dexter Morant have each been impressive, according to teammates.

"That's pretty much what we've been talking about," he said. "They told me to come in and do whatever I could to put myself in a better position to come in and play. They've told me they're going to throw me in the fire, but I'm ready for it."

Down linemen Garrison Smith and Mike Thornton both figure to at least get their shots as does cornerback Derek Owens, who junior Brandon Boykin compares to Branden Smith at this same stage last year.

Thornton is expected to receive a long look at nose, where he could sneak in some snaps behind DeAngelo Tyson and Kwame Geathers.

"I feel like it's a position that I know pretty well, but I can also play the five-technique, too," Thornton said. "Coach G (Rodney Garner) has all his defensive tackles cross training, so I'm sure I'll be doing the same thing."

Demetre Baker is working out at inside linebacker, but the 205-pounder needs to get a bit bigger.

Alec Ogletree would appear just too talented not to get on the field in some regard, while twin brother and linebacker Alexander Ogletree would seem to be redshirt bound but has been told he'll get an honest look as well.

Meanwhile, GMC transfer Jakar Hamilton is see plenty of time at safety, rotating between both the free and strong positions. Marc Deas will also get looks at both safety spots, but would appear to headed for a redshirt.

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