Mark Richt embarks on his 10th season as Georgia’s head coach focused on getting the Bulldogs back into the upper echelon of the Southeastern Conference. Despite extending their streak of eight or more wins in a season to 13 years with an 8-5 record in 2009, the Bulldogs have grown accustomed to better. “I think it has certainly given me a lot more resolve to really continue to get this program where it belongs,” Richt said. “This past season was a disappointment for a lot of people. I don’t expect our Bulldog fans to be excited about an 8-5 season. A lot of people would say that’s really not that bad of a year with it being a winning season. But the time that we have been here, everyone was getting used to 10-win seasons, top-10 finishes, banging away at the Eastern Division, being in a position to finish as high as No. 2 or No. 3, and being in a position to play for an SEC Championship. “All those things are what we aspire to do and what we expect to do. We have everything we need to get that done. There’s a very positive buzz in the Butts-Mehre Building. Within the coaching staff and within our players, there is a great amount of excitement about what the future holds. The only thing I’m going to really try to predict is how hard we play and how disciplined we play. Those are the things that we have got to control as a coaching staff and as a group of players. I think the results will take care of themselves after that point.” The Bulldogs will enter 2010 with three new defensive coaches, marking the largest single-year turnover under Richt. New defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is putting a 3-4 defense in place. He spent nine years coaching in college with Michigan State and Virginia Tech and 11 more in the NFL, most recently with the Dallas Cowboys. The defensive staff also includes secondary coach Scott Lakatos, who came from Connecticut, and Warren Belin, who arrived from Vanderbilt. With veteran defensive line coach Rodney Garner returning, the Bulldogs have a solid group in place to install the new system. For 2010, Georgia will return 17 of 24 starters, including 10 on offense, and 49 lettermen overall. What follows is a position-byposition look at the Bulldogs, not taking into account the incoming freshmen. QUARTERBACKS The biggest uncertainty on offense is the quarterback position, where the Bulldogs will be breaking in their third starter in as many seasons. And while Georgia’s candidates have plenty of talent, they do not have much experience. Aaron Murray (6-1, 209, RFr.) was placed at the top of the depth chart after spring drills by Richt and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. Murray has not taken a snap in a college game, but he will have been in the system for a year-and-a-half when the 2010 season opener rolls around. Versatile Logan Gray (6-2, 195, Jr.) will continue to battle for the starting job and for playing time during preseason camp. Gray is the only letterman at quarterback, having seen limited time in 2008 and 2009, and he has experience returning punts. He also is expected to get some reps at receiver during camp. RUNNING BACKS The Bulldogs return last season’s top rushers in Washaun Ealey (5-11, 211, So.) and Caleb King (5-11, 212, Jr.). Ealey rolled up 717 yards and three touchdowns in 2009, followed by King with 594 yards and seven scores. In the Bulldogs’ victory over Georgia Tech, they combined for 349 yards and two touchdowns. Georgia also has veterans in Carlton Thomas (5-7, 176, RSo.) and Dontavius Jackson (5-10, 201, RSo.), along with Cortney Newmans (5-9, 223, Jr.), Brian Brewer (5-10, 204, Sr.), Wes Van Dyk (6-0, 205, Jr.) and Alex Parsons (5-9, 196. Jr.). The fullback position will be a strength with the return of Shaun A.J. Green
Chapas (6-2, 242, Sr.) and Fred Munzenmaier (6-2, 235, Sr.). Not only are they exceptional blockers, but they combined for three touchdowns last season. Georgia also has Kevin Lanier (5-11, 212, RSo.), Dustin Royston (5-11, 226, RFr.), converted linebacker Charles White (6-1, 221, Jr.), Josh Sailors (5-9, 232, Jr.), Matt Sweat (6-2, 230, So.), Cameron Allen (6-1, 215, RSo.) and Chris Young (6-1, 215, RFr.). WIDE RECEIVERS Georgia has one of the country’s premier receivers in A.J. Green (6-4, 205, Jr.) at flanker. An All-SEC pick in 2008 and 2009, Green had team-best totals of 53 catches for 808 yards and six touchdowns last season. Rantavious Wooten (5-10, 176, So.) showed flashes of his potential late in the year, including two touchdown catches against Kentucky. Israel Troupe (6-1, 215, Jr.) had a touchdown among his four grabs in 2009. Taylor Bradberry (6-3, 199, RSo.) and Brandon Harton (5-6, 165, RFr.) will provide depth. Tavarres King (6-1, 184, RSo.) will lead the charge at split end after hauling in 18 passes for 377 yards and a score last year. The Bulldogs will get a boost from the return of Kris Durham (6-5, 211, Sr.), who missed all of last season following shoulder surgery. Durham has 32 career catches, including 13 (with a touchdown) in 2008. Marlon Brown (6-5, 219, So.), Rhett McGowan (6-0, 185, RFr.) and Greg Lanier (6-1, 188, RFr.) will vie for playing time. TIGHT ENDS Four returning lettermen should make this an area of strength for the Bulldogs. Orson Charles (6-3, 235, So.) was the thirdleading receiver a year ago with 23 catches for 374 yards and three touchdowns. Aron White (6-4, 237, Jr.) earned Independence Bowl MVP honors with two touchdowns and he had four on the season
with 198 yards receiving. Twenty-four-game veteran Bruce Figgins (6-4, 266, Jr.) will re-enter the mix after sitting out last season following shoulder surgery. Arthur Lynch (6-5, 254, So.) played in 11 games last season, primarily on special teams. Derek Rich (6-5, 263, Sr.) will give Georgia additional options. OFFENSIVE LINEMEN With all five starters and eight overall lettermen returning, Georgia should be formidable in the trenches. A year ago, the linemen paved the way for 362 total yards and 29 points per game. All-SEC First Teamer Clint Boling (6-5, 310, Sr.) will anchor the line from his left tackle slot. Jonathan Owens (6-4, 300, RSo.) will back him up. At right tackle, the Bulldogs have Josh Davis (6-6, 310, Sr.) and early enrollee Kolton Houston (6-5, 280, Fr.). In addition, the Bulldogs will welcome back 2007 starter Trinton Sturdivant (6-5, 320, Jr.), who missed the 2008 and 2009 seasons due to knee injuries. A.J. Harmon (6-5, 310, RSo.) and Austin Long (6-5, 295, RFr.) also will work their way into the mix. Cordy Glenn (6-5, 330, Jr.) returns at left guard, and he was named the Bulldogs’ offensive MVP following the spring drills. Dallas Lee (6-4, 300, RFr.) and John Bodin (6-6, 305, RSo.) will provide depth. At right guard, the Bulldogs list Chris Davis (6-4, 300, Sr.) atop the depth chart, followed by Ben Harden (6-3, 310, Jr.) and Josh Parrish (6-4, 290, RFr.). Tanner Strickland (6-5, 322, Jr.) will vie for playing time after missing last year with a shoulder injury. Ben Jones (6-3, 300, Jr.) is back for his third year as the starting center. Chris Burnette (6-2, 291, RFr.) and Ben Reynolds (6-2, 250, RFr.) will spell Jones. DEFENSIVE LINEMEN The first line of defense in the new 3-4 alignment will be Georgia’s nose and ends. DeAngelo Tyson (6-2, 295, Jr.) will enter the preseason camp listed first at nose. Kwame Geathers (6-6, 310, RFr.) and Candler Cook (6-3, 250, Jr.) also will get a look. Converted offensive lineman Justin Anderson (6-5, 330, Jr.) made the transition to nose during spring workouts. Abry Jones (6-3, 285, So.) is the top candidate at left end, followed by Brandon Wood (6-1, 286, Sr.), Derrick Lott (6-4, 295, RFr.) and Matthew DeGenova (6-1, 225, Jr.). At right end, the Bulldogs have Demarcus Dobbs (6-2, 285, Sr.), Kiante Tripp (6-6, 290, Sr.) and Nick Franks (6-2, 250, Jr.). Jeremy Longo (6-3, 253, RSo.) also will enter the mix. Among that group, Dobbs led the way with 30 tackles, including 4.5 sacks, last season, plus he posted a team-high three caused fumbles. LINEBACKERS Georgia’s new defensive alignment will feature four linebackers, two outside and two inside. Justin Houston (6-3, 260, Jr.) has the inside track at one of the inside positions. He led the Bulldogs a year ago with 15 tackles for loss (39 overall), including 7.5 sacks. In camp, he will be backed up by Reuben Faloughi (6-5, 240, RFr.) and Brock Boleman (6-6, 223, RFr.). At the other inside linebacker slot, the Bulldogs have Cornelius Washington (6-4, 255, RSo.), Darryl Gamble (6-2, 255, Sr.) and Chase Vasser (6-3, 220, RFr.). Washington had four sacks and Gamble had 47 tackles a year ago. At outside linebacker, the Bulldogs will open at one slot with Akeem Dent (6-2, 234, Sr.) leading the way. Dent had 32 tackles in just eight games a year ago. Mike Gilliard (6-2, 220, So.), Akeem Hebron (6-1, 227, Sr.), Jason Veal (5-11, 223, RSo.), Chris Grund (6-0, 220, Sr.) and Micah King (5-9, 215, Jr.) will provide depth. The other slot has Christian Robinson (6-2, 211, RSo.) on top. Marcus Dowtin (6-2, 220, Jr.), converted tailback Richard Samuel (6-2, 235, Jr.) and Jeremy Sulek (6-1, 218, RSo.) will challenge for playing time as well. Dowtin is Georgia’s leading retuning tackler with 57, including seven for loss. Samuel had 395 yards and two touchdowns last season, but the emergence of Ealey and Caleb King allowed Samuel, an excellent high school linebacker, to change positions. SECONDARY Despite losing three starters, the secondary has eight returning lettermen, many of whom played significant roles last season. Brandon Boykin (5-10, 183, Jr.) is the lone remaining starter at cornerback. A year ago, Boykin had 54 tackles and a team-best three interceptions. In addition, Boykin set the SEC record with three kickoff returns for touchdowns. He will be backed up at cornerback by Branden Smith (5-11, 172, So.). Smith was a weapon on both sides of the ball as he also had 208 yards rushing with two touchdowns. Special teams ace Chad Gloer (5-10, 191, Sr.), Blake Sailors (5-11, 185, RFr.) and Luis Capella (5-10, 170, RFr.) could see action as well. At the other corner, the Bulldogs have Vance Cuff (5-11, 177, Sr.) atop the depth chart. Sanders Commings (6-2, 210, RSo.), Jordan Love (6-0, 184, RFr.) and Corey Dunson (6-0, 192, RFr.) also will factor in. Nick Williams (6-2, 212, Jr.) has the inside track to start at strong safety. Quintin Banks (6-2, 208, Sr.) and Shawn Williams (6-1, 206, So.) have playing experience at safety, while Josh Murray (6-2, 204, Sr.) will provide additional support. At free safety, the Bulldogs are led by Bacarri Rambo (6-0, 211, RSo.), who had two interceptions in 2009 and a memorable pass breakup in the Auburn game. Early enrollee Jakar Hamilton (6-2, 200, Jr.) made strides during spring practice and the Bulldogs also have Eric Elliot (5-9, 186, Jr.). SPECIALISTS Georgia may have the nation’s top special teams tandem in punter Drew Butler (6-2, 207, Jr.) and place-kicker Blair Walsh (5-10, 191, Jr.). Butler won the Ray Guy Award in 2009 as the country’s best punter after he averaged 48.1 yards per attempt. Walsh, a Lou Groza Award finalist, connected on 20-of-22 field goals, including 4-of-5 beyond 50 yards, and all 42 of his extra points. Walsh and Jamie Lindley (5-11, 168, Jr.) will back up Butler, while Brandon Bogotay (6-3, 214, Jr.) and Jamie Lindley (5-11, 168, Jr.) are additional candidates at place-kicker. The snapper is Ty Frix (6-0, 207, RSo.), with Rich and Billy Johnson (6-0, 241, RSo.) as reserves. Butler will take care of the holding duties.