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February 9, 2009

Looking down the road

A year ago, UGASports took a look at Georgia's depth chart and identified quarterback and defensive tackle as the two primary areas of need. The Bulldogs met those needs by signing a pair of four-star prospects at both positions. Now, we look ahead to 2010 and UGA's top recruiting priorities.

Before we get into the areas of need, we will first discuss available scholarships. If all of the 15 signees qualify academically and no current players leave the team, Georgia will have 83 scholarship players on its roster in August, which is two under the NCAA limit of 85. Of that group, 12 will be seniors, thus the total number of scholarships available for the Class of 2010 will be 14.

Rivals.com Prospect Database
The following prospects have been offered scholarships for the Class of 2010

Running Back

Mack Brown
Marcus Lattimore

Wide Receiver
Chris Dunkley
Antonio Goodwin
Justin Hunter
Keiwone Malone
Ted Meline
Trovon Reed

Offensive Line
Brent Benedict
Robert Crisp
James Hurst
Jawuan James
Chad Lindsay
Mark Shuman

Defensive Tackle
Jeffrey Whitaker

Defensive End
Jackson Jeffcoat
Gabe King
Corey Lemonier
Dexter Morant
Garrison Smith
Brandon Willis

Linebacker
Gerald Christian
Jordan Hicks
Justin Maclin
Chris Martin
Justin McCay

Cornerback
Lamarcus Joyner

Safety
Alec Ogletree
However, there is no guarantee that all the signees will qualify, and it is currently believed that as many as three or four of the 15 signees could come up short. Also, as is the case every year, there will be players that leave for various reasons thus freeing up other scholarships.

With three seniors and very little experience behind them, once again, defensive tackle looks to be the number one position of need.

If both Abry Jones and Derrick Lott both qualify, they likely would not be major contributors next season as they will need to get bigger, as the interior defensive line is a difficult position due to the physical beating frequently being double-teamed by offensive linemen who in most cases tip the scales at over 300 pounds.

Signing as many as three defensive tackles seems almost mandatory when you consider that Geno Atkins, Jeff Owens, and Kade Weston are all rising seniors and juniors Ricardo Crawford and Brandon Wood have little experience  leaving rising sophomore DeAngelo Tyson as the sole other scholarship player on the team.

By moving Kiante Tripp back to defensive end, the Bulldogs hope to clear up that little problem of lack of pressure off the edge from the 2008 season.

But, just like at defensive tackle, the situation calls for immediate help in recruiting.

The arrival of the top player from the State of Indiana will likely not add much in the short term as Montez Robinson, at 6-foot-5, 235-pounds will also need to get bigger.

On paper the situation at defensive end does not seem dire, but production has been an issue, and most of the players have little experience. Bringing in a couple of players at the position would help.

With five of our assumed 20 scholarships taken with three tackles and two ends, we turn our attention to the aerial battle. With a total of three currently on the roster, and just two more expected in August, cornerback is not only a concern for the 2009 season but a position of need for 2010.

The good news is that the Dawgs inked Branden Smith, who is rated the No. 5 player at the position nationally by Rivals.com. Also arriving this summer will be Jordan Love, who many feel is underrated. Still, signing three corners and a couple of safeties could potentially alleviate this problem down the road.

The story at receiver is somewhat tied to that of tight end. Currently, Georgia has six receivers ready for spring camp. Among them is Freshman All-American A.J. Green. With varying degrees of experience around him -- most notably in Mike Moore and Kris Durham -- Green returns as one of the top players at the position in the Southeastern Conference.

Georgia's signing day surprise of the top player in Tennessee Marlon Brown is a potential huge boost to the Bulldogs' receiving corps. Add to that Rantavious Wooten, who Rivals.com lists as the No. 6 receiver in the State of Florida, and things look great.

But they could look even better should Orson Charles, who is rated as the No. 7 receiver nationally by Rivals.com, but whom the Dawgs have recruited as a tight end, faxes in his national letter of intent to a 706 area code (let's narrow that down to a 542 extension to be safe).

Charles is scheduled to visit Southern Cal on Feb. 20. Georgia, Southern Cal, Tennessee, and Florida are the contenders.

Regardless of what Charles does, the Bulldogs will need to get at least two receivers and one tight end.

The remainder of the offense is in pretty good shape with an adequate balance of experience, youth, and numbers for the 2009 season, and it should still have enough left over so as to not be in a situation like that which now exists at cornerback or defensive tackle. Add to that a couple of running backs, and the offense should be fine heading into recruiting for 2011.

Given that as many as 11 offensive linemen will be freshmen or sophomores for the 2009 season, and the fact that they have four rising juniors, the team could get away with just signing a guard and a tackle for the Class of 2010.

The same can be said for safety and linebacker, though the latter is a little more top heavy with upper-classmen. So, as stated, if Georgia grabs two safeties, and then add to that a couple of linebackers, the total number of scholarships in our projection stands at 19.

What we do not know are many things. Chief among them is the question of the positions of any signees that fail to qualify, and the position of any players that might leave early.

To be safe: sign even more defensive linemen.

Next up: Players in the Georgia mix that do not currently have offers ...



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