BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Four Georgia players were first-team All-SEC picks on the SEC media’s preseason team announced Thursday.
Tight end Ben Watson, receiver Fred Gibson, defensive end David Pollack and kicker Billy Bennett were first-team picks.
Named to the second team were quarterback David Greene, safety Kentrell Curry and return specialist Damien Gary.
In the 2002 preseason poll, Georgia was picked to finish second in the East. Instead, it won the division and also won the overall conference title for the first time since 1982.
“We don’t care who’s picked to be favored,’’ Pollack said, adding “You guys don’t always pick the right people.’’
Georgia was picked to win the East this season, despite having to replace every starter on its offensive line and at linebacker, as well as replace its leading rusher and receiver.
Coach Mark Richt said he would have picked Tennessee first in the East. Of 78 media members casting votes, Georgia drew 42 first-place votes in the East, followed by Tennessee, with 30 first-place votes, Florida, with six, South Carolina, Kentucky and Vanderbilt.
“It’s a situation where we’re starting all over,’’ Richt said. “We’ll find out what the young guys can do to help us.’’
With 60 first-place votes, Auburn was the big leader in the media voting in the SEC West and was the pick to beat Georgia in the SEC championship game.
Weighty matters: Tight end Ben Watson barely retained his title as the king of the weight room on the team this summer.
Watson won the bench-press bragging rights with an effort of 565 pounds last week, but defensive tackle Ken Veal was right behind at 560 pounds.
“It has been intense,’’ Watson said Thursday.
Pollack was asked Thursday about his team-leading total of 700 pounds in the squat, but he would accept no credit.
“It’s more important to ask Ben about a 565-pound bench,’’ Pollack said. “That’s more than most people can squat.’’
Added Pollack of Watson: “He’s a freak.’’
From the depth chart: Sophomore Michael Turner ended spring drills as a backup tight end, but he will enter the start of preseason practice Monday as a backup center. ... Michael Johnson and Fred Gibson are listed as the starting split end and flanker, respectively, on the preseason depth chart, but Reggie Brown and Damien Gary will challenge for top jobs. ... Jeremy Thomas enters the preseason as the starting fullback and has earned a scholarship, Richt said.
Remembering Stinchcomb: Though he gives his small senior class credit for picking up its leadership role this summer, Richt says 2002 senior Jon Stinchcomb will be missed.
“We miss him because the players really respected him,’’ Richt said. “ He was not afraid to get on somebody he didn’t think was towing the line. He chose leadership over popularity at times over the year. We’re going to miss him for sure. Plus, he’s a heck of a player.’’
Stinchcomb, an offensive tackle, was a second-round pick by the New Orleans Saints this year.