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June 22, 2013

Herrera heads up LBs corps for Dawgs

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Amarlo Herrera says he's relishing his new role as the veteran of Georgia's middle-linebacking corps.

Talk about a change.

Last year, Herrera was still considered one of the young bucks behind the likes of Alec Ogletree, Christian Robinson and Mike Gilliard.

But with the trio now having moved on (Robinson is now a grad assistant at UGA), Herrera's role has changed from that of silent contributor to the wise sage necomers like Reggie Carter, Ryne Rankin and the Bulldogs' other young linebackers will look to for leadership and support.

So far, Herrera said the transition has been a smooth one.

"I'm out there leading, but everybody pretty much knows most of the plays," Herrera said earlier this week. "We'll sometimes go one minute and then start calling different plays to get competitive that's not on the script. We're working hard."

Although Herrera said he and other linebackers haven't gone through enough of their summer drills to gain a true senses of the talent Georgia gained with its 2013 signing class, he knows what Carter and Rankin can do.

The freshmen duo were able to go through spring practice as early enrollees, and worked almost primarily with the second team. "They showed me they can hit," Herrera said. "They showed me they can play ball. They're violent."

Fellow freshman Johnny O'Neal and Tim Kimbrough joined the fold a month ago and will also be competing for playing time at middle linebacker, behind Herrera and Ramik Wilson, who was listed as the starter at Mike at the conclusion of spring drills.

Junior Kosta Vavlas is another veteran Herrera said can't be overlooked. "I can't wait to see the future for them. Carter is producing and Ryne will hit anything. They'll run into anybody," Herrera said. "They (the freshmen) just have to learn everything playing-wise. I watch what they do and if they do something wrong, I'll tell them. But I like the way they run to people and be aggressive."

Opportunities certainly abound.

"That's the reason I came to Georgia," Rankin said last February. "I scoped out the depth chart, the opportunities I'd have here to come in and play early, to be an early enrollee, me and my boy Reggie Carter. It's all about competing."

But what about results? With a position so young, that's certainly question worth asking.

Herrera doesn't think there will be many issues.

"No, I don't think it will, man," Herrera said. "We've got guys who have been there. (Vavlas) is a walk-on but he can make plays and he knows everything so we've got a good foundation to build off of and that's a good thing to have."

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