What we learned from Spring: Sam LB

Arnold Harrison

Georgia spring practice concluded with its annual G-Day game. Here is a look at the Sam Linebackers:

Georgia is loaded at linebacker. The only thing that has happened negatively with the linebackers is Tony Taylor's ACL during the annual G-Day game. Taylor's injury bumps up younger players at the Will spot; but the Sam linebacker is full of depth.

There was a time when I was not certain what Arnold Harrison's role was on this team. In 2001 he was criticized often by the coaches and he was out of control on the field. It was difficult watching him play recklessly.

But after a few years of growing up, Harrison has proven that players can completely turn their careers around. Harrison stepped up in the 2002 Clemson game when Tony Gilbert went down to injury. Now Harrison is the starter at the Sam spot. One did not know if he would make it out of his freshman season let alone make a successful transition from tight end to linebacker. But now Harrison is a team leader and his play on the field is passionate yet controlled.

Behind Harrison is Danny Verdun-Wheeler, a young man that played lots of minutes last season as a true freshman. If Verdun-Wheeler was not so inexperienced he would likely take the starting job over from Harrison later in the season simply on potential.

He showed tons of talent, particularly late in 2003. Verdun-Wheeler is a little bit broader than the other Will backers but he does not lack speed. He is likely the starter of the future.

His competition in the future will be Marcus Howard. The fastest Will linebacker, Howard is buried behind both Harrison and Verdun-Wheeler. But it is certainly possible that he could scratch his way to some playing time this season. Still, being the number three player at a position with very little experience means that Howard will get most of his playing time at the end of games and during special teams.

Key to this position:

Harrison must continue to play with controlled aggression. Verdun-Wheeler needs to become a playmaker.

Depth chart shuffle:

None at this position during the spring but it remains to be seen if Taylor's injury will effect this spot or not.

2004 Prediction:

Harrison and Verdun-Wheeler will be sharing a lot of time by the Tennessee game.

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