Georgia Football
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How different will the defensive roster look?

With mandatory workouts getting set to start on July 15, we're curious as to what the Bulldogs will look like on offense and defense in 2020.

We started earlier with our article on the offense, but now it's time to give the defense our attention.

On paper, the Bulldogs don't lose a lot from what the was the SEC's top scoring and total defensive squad. Does that mean fans can expect more of the same this fall?

Let's take a look:

Azeez Ojulari is back to lead what could be a stacked Bulldog defense.
Azeez Ojulari is back to lead what could be a stacked Bulldog defense. (USA Today)

Defensive Line

Who arrived:

Warren Brinson: Early enrollee would have benefited by having a spring practice, but will now have to learn the ropes with the rest of Georgia's newcomers.

Jalen Carter: Of all the newcomers on the defensive line, Carter figures to make the biggest impact. Look for the Florida native to shine, similar to what Travon Walker did last fall.

Nazir Stackhouse: Don't overlook the athletic Stackhouse. It may not be this year, but you're looking at Georgia's nose guard of the future. He'll play this year.

Cameron Kinnie: It was thought Kinnie might be destined for the offensive line, but he's listed on the official roster as a defensive lineman right now. Likely redshirt.

* The Bulldogs will also welcome walk-on Cade Brock.

Who stayed:

Jordan Davis: Davis has to constantly keep his weight in check, but we hear he's doing well. All-SEC potential as one of the better nose tackles in the conference.

Julian Rochester: Was able to redshirt after playing in just four games. Will bring some veteran leadership to the defensive line.

Malik Herring: Senior is primed to be one of the better defensive ends in the entire SEC. Keep an eye on him for post-season honors.

Travon Walker: The member of the SEC All-Freshman team is expected to make a huge jump as a sophomore. Potentially the biggest disrupter on the defensive line.

Devonte Wyatt: Expected to be the starter at tackle. Athletic senior will be one of Georgia's key players up front. Off-season misdemeanor charges were dropped, so he'll be good to go to start the year.

Netori Johnson: Moved from defensive line to the offensive line for the Sugar Bowl. May continue to get looks there this preseason.

Tramel Walthour: Redshirt sophomore was a scout team terror for the Bulldogs, and will provide depth at defensive end.

Bill Norton: Redshirt freshman will compete for reps at defensive tackle. Had two solo stops against Georgia Tech, including one for a 1-yard loss.

Tymon Mitchell: Redshirted after playing in two games while excelling as a member of the scout team. Will compete for reps at nose.

Zion Logue: Played in two games while redshirting. Will compete for reps at defensive tackle.

* Walk-on Tyler Malakius also returns.

Who left:

Tyler Clark: Signed a free agent contract with Cincinnati.

Michael Barnett: Graduated and was talking with New Orleans about a free agent contract.

David Marshall: Graduated, but has not signed a free agent contract.

Justin Young: Graduated after four years with the program.

Michail Carter: Graduated. Did not sign a free agent contract.

Antonio Poole: Former walk-on never saw any game action.

Net Result:

The Bulldogs graduated some key performers in Tyler Clark, Michael Barnett, and David Marshall, but the position should not be the worse for wear.

In fact, even with the losses, one can probably argue that Georgia's depth is actually better.

Although there's some question as to who will be the top backup at nose behind Davis, the Bulldogs won't be short of bodies. And with the addition of freshman Jalen Carter, the position could actually be more athletic than last year's unit.

Outside linebacker

Who arrived:

Mekhail Sherman: Former four-star was one of five finalist for the high school Butkus Award. Quality depth will keep Sherman from being strictly needed this year, but he's expected to receive playing time anyway.

They stayed:

Nolan Smith: The former five-star did not disappoint last year, making 18 tackles and finishing fourth on the team with 15 quarterback hurries.

Jermaine Johnson: Finished with 20 tackles, and really came on toward the end of the season. A popular choice when it comes to players expected to take that "next step" this fall.

Azeez Ojulari: Arguably Georgia's defensive MVP, Ojulari finished with 5.5 sacks and a team-high 34 quarterback pressures in his first season.

Adam Anderson: TRhe former five-star is expected to be a key member of the Bulldogs' third-down pass rush.

Walter Grant: Senior often gets overlooked, but is a steady, consistent performer at outside linebacker.

Robert Beal: Veteran backup had put his name in the transfer portal, but elected to return.

* Walk-on Matthew Brown is also back for another year.

They left:


Net result:

Loads of talent here.

One can argue that Georgia's outside linebacker corps is the deepest and most athletic position on the team.

Defensive coordinator Dan Lanning's biggest problem will be how to get them all on the field. Ojulari and Smith can be stars.

Inside Linebacker

Who arrived:

No newcomers listed on current roster

Who stayed:

Rian Davis: Healthy after redshirting last year, following ACL surgery his senior year. Will compete for reps this fall.

Naboke Dean: Now a sophomore, Dean is the favorite to take over the starting role left vacant by the graduation of Tae Crowder. Should be one of Georgia's leading tacklers.

Nate McBride: Senior will look for backup reps while being a key member of the Bulldogs' coverage units on special teams.

Quay Walker: Started to really come on toward the end of 2019, ultimately earning the Co-winner honors as the Most Improved Defensive Player at the team's post-season gala. Will see extensive time this fall.

Monty Rice: The heart and soul of Georgia's defense. If Rice isn't the Bulldogs' leading tackler this fall it will come as a surprise.

Channing Tindall: Didn't have quite the impact many thought he would as a sophomore, but still very highly thought of, and should play a lot this fall.

Trezman Marshall: Special teams standout who will look to add more defensive reps.

* Walk-on Miles Miccichi also returns.

Who left:

Tae Crowder: Taken by the New York Giants with the final pick in the NFL Draft

Net result:

Once again, Georgia appears to be in great shape as far as inside linebacker is concerned.

As we mentioned, Rice is the heart and soul of the defense, but watch out for Dean, who looks to be the second coming of Rennie Curran.

Walker is also ready to take another step in development, leaving Davis, Tindall, Marshall, and McBride to battle for reps behind them.


Who's arrived:

Daran Branch: Former three-star cornerback wasn't the highest-ranked defensive back signed by Georgia, but the Bulldogs love his athleticism.

Major Burns: An early enrollee, the 6-3 Burns ultimately projects as a safety, but can play corner. The Baton Rouge native also played wide receiver and quarterback in high school.

Jalen Kimber: Another early enrollee, the Texas native was the nation's eighth-ranked cornerback his senior year in high school.

Kelee Ringo: Could Ringo be one of the most talented freshmen in all of college football? We'll see. It's going to be interesting to see how the Bulldogs utilize the 6-3, 195-pounder. Could he play some offense, too?

* Walk-ons Kurt Knisely of Watkinsville and Patrick Taylor of John's Creek are also on the roster.

They stayed:

Divaad Wilson: Redshirt sophomore could be one of the most versatile defensive backs on the team with the ability to play safety and corner. While it won't shock us to see him play either, we project Wilson to compete for the starting job at Star.

Richard LeCounte: Senior decided to come back to Georgia, and takes over for J.R. Reed as the leader of the secondary. Finished the year with 61 tackles (third-best on the team) and four interceptions, which were second in the SEC.

Tyson Campbell: The former five-star prospect missed time with injury last season but is expected to battle DJ Daniel for starting duties opposite Eric Stokes.

Tyrique Stevenson: Stevenson enjoyed a banner freshman year, showing he could excel at cornerback, but also be versatile enough to play other roles in the defensive backfield as well. That includes Star, the position where we think the Florida native could have his biggest impact.

Ameer Speed: Speed hasn't quite been able to break into the rotation, and projects more as a special teams contributor.

DJ Daniel: Daniel settled in as a starter last year opposite Stokes, closing out the year with a season-high eight tackles against Baylor in the Sugar Bowl.

Lewis Cine: Talented sophomore is the favorite to start at safety opposite LeCounte following the graduation of Reed.

Mark Webb: Converted wide receiver is expected to compete for the starting job at Star. Can also play corner.

Eric Stokes: The second-team All-SEC performer started 13 of Georgia's 14 games at corner and is primed for his best year yet as a junior.

Christopher Smith: Smith gets overlooked a lot, but he's a very capable performer at safety and should receive his share of playing time.

William Poole: Can play safety, but is expected to mainly compete for playing time at Star.

Latavious Brini: Another backup who appears destined for a similar role this fall.

* Walk-on defensive backs Hugh Nelson, Jake Wilson and Dan Jackson are also listed on the roster as returnees.

They left:

J.R. Reed: Signed a free agent contract with Jacksonville.

Otis Reese: Transferred to Ole Miss.

Net Result:

There's talent to spare as Georgia's secondary is every bit as deep or deeper than it's been in years.

Stokes, Campbell, and Daniels are solid at cornerback, while Stevenson, who we expect to play at Star, along with Kimber and Ringo, give the Bulldogs a crazy amount of athleticism.

The Bulldogs aren't quite as deep at safety, but LeCounte and Cine make up a pretty good combo, giving Georgia one of the better secondaries in the entire SEC.