July 29, 2009

Depth chart breakdown: The Defense

Injuries certainly took their toll on Georgia's defense last fall.

The Bulldogs lost defensive tackle Jeff Owens to a torn ACL just a few minutes into the opener against Georgia Southern, but he was far from the only one.

Linebacker Marcus Washingtonalso missed the entire season while recovering from shoulder surgery, while defensive tackle Kade Weston, defensive ends Roderick Battle, safety Quintin Banks and linebacker Darius Dewberry were among other key defensive performers who missed 3, 6, 12 and 4 games, respectively.

Fortunately, as Georgia gets ready to kick off fall practice next Tuesday, the Bulldogs appear to be healthy.

Georgia's preseason defensive depth chart reflects this fact.

Defensive tackle: Owens (Sr., 6-3, 300) and Geno Atkins (Sr., 6-1, 290) are both listed as starters at right and left tackle, respectively with Weston (Sr., 6-5, 320) and DeAngelo Tyson (So., 6-2, 294) as the top two backups.

Senior Brandon Wheeling(6-3, 290) is the third-team right tackle behind Atkins with Ricardo Crawford (Jr., 6-1, 303) and Brandon Wood (Jr., 6-1, 285) listed in that order behind Owens.

Wood, who is coming off shoulder and wrist surgery, is still rehabbing but his expected to be cleared sometime in the coming weeks.

Freshmen of Impact: At first, it didn't appear that neither Derrick Lott (6-4, 290) nor Abry Jones (6-3, 295) would be ready to make much of an impact as true freshmen. That may no longer be necessarily the case. Both Lott and Jones have enjoyed an outstanding summer and depending on how quickly they progress under position coach Rodney Garner, could well take some snaps away from Crawford and possibly Wood while he continues recovering from his current maladies.

As for Kwame Geathers, the Bulldogs are still waiting on him to work out his issues with the NCAA Clearinghouse. Head coach Mark Richt still expects him to be here, but even if he does, a redshirt year appears almost a certainty.

Defensive end: Battle (Sr., 6-4, 259) is listed as the starter at one defensive end spot, followed by Demarcus Dobbs (Jr., 6-2, 287) and Neland Ball (RSo., 6-6, 242), but that order is likely to change.

The reason? Justin Houston (RSo., 6-3, 259) is listed as the starter on the other side, but the Statesboro native will miss the first two games while serving a suspension for violating team rules.

With Houston out, that could open the door for Kiante Tripp (Jr., 6-6, 290) to step in, although Dobbs could easily open there as well. Cornelius Washington (RFr., 6-4, 248) is almost 100 percent after undergoing forearm surgery and is currently listed third-team behind Houston and Tripp, with Jeremy Longo (RFr., 6-3, 245) hoping to make an impact as well.

Freshmen of impact: Watch out for Montez Robinson (6-5, 260). Robinson comes into camp in excellent condition, and although it's rare for a true freshman to make an impact at defensive end under position coach Jon Fabris, he may be the exception to the rule. Don't forget about walk-on Reuben Faloughi who has been turning heads during summer workouts as well.

Linebackers: Let's start at Mike where Akeem Dent (Jr., 6-2, 230) is listed as the starter, followed by Washington, Marcus Dowtin (So., 6-2, 236) and Charles White (RSo., 6-1, 230).

Darryl Gamble (Jr., 6-2, 250 holds the top spot at Sam. Dewberry is listed at second team, but it remains unclear how much longer the senior will be out.

Junior Rennie Curran (5-11, 230), redshirt freshman Christian Robinson (6-2, 222) and junior Akeem Hebron (6-1, 226) are the top three players at Will.

Sophomore Nick Williams had climbed the depth chart to No. 2 behind Curran, but the Bainbridge native has since been moved to safety where he will serve as a backup to both Reshad Jones and Bryan Evans.

Freshmen of impact: Chase Vasser (6-3, 224) and Mike Gilliard (6-2, 210) are fast and physical and although Georgia's depth might preclude them from getting initial playing time early on, don't rule the pair out from getting into the playing mix.

Cornerbacks: Brandon Boykin (So., 5-10, 182) takes over for Asher Allen as the starter at short corner, followed by Sanders Commings (RFr., 6-2, 214) and Chad Gloer (Jr., 5-10, 193). Prince Miller (Sr., 5-11, 190) and Vance Cuff (Jr., 5-11, 177) are 1-2 at the wide spot.

Freshmen of impact: Lot to talk about here. Branden Smith (5-11, 185) is a five-star performer who is assured of seeing action in a backup role, most likely behind Boykin on the short side. Don't forget about Jordan Love (6-0, 185). Love can play either the short or the wide positions and likely will see his share of playing time.

Safety: Reshad Jones (Jr., 6-2, 214) has had an outstanding summer and is determined to make his junior year his best season yet. Jones has moved over to strong safety, where he is listed as the starter, followed by Bacarri Rambo (RFr., 6-0, 208) and Banks (Jr., 6-2, 213).

Evans, meanwhile, takes over at free safety. Makiri Pugh (RFr., 6-0, 196) is listed as his top backup, but look for Williams to help out there as well after moving over from linebacker to provide added depth after Jon Knox left the team.

Freshman of Impact: Shawn Williams (6-1, 195) is a big-hitter and someone who could certainly work his way into seeing playing time with a solid fall camp.

Punter: Drew Butler takes over for Brian Mimbs with walk-on Trent Dittmer (RSo.) listed as his top backup.

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