Cornelius Washington – This was an easy selection—after all, this outside linebacker did run a faster 40-time than almost every player on the team this summer. While we don’t believe every thing we hear about Washington, he’s still super quick and has the perfect body size to play outside linebacker in Todd Grantham’s 3-4 scheme.
Last season Washington made one start, 13 tackles and four sacks. All injuries aside, we expect Washington to start every game and enjoy a stellar breakout season.
Aaron Murray – I think this one goes without saying.
Tavarres King – Keeping further potential suspensions in mind from King’s July 10 arrest, the redshirt sophomore has enjoyed the quintessential offseason. He gained weight and strength, and his teammates have pointed to him as assuming a leadership role ON THE PRACTICE FIELD. King made a mistake in judgment off the field, and he has been punished. We still see him stepping into the No. 2 receiver position and catching more than the one touchdown he accounted for last season.
Abry Jones – Here’s the big-bodied defensive end Grantham had in mind when he began installing his system. Jones was good enough to get in games as a freshman last season, and word this spring was that he took to his new responsibilities in the 3-4 scheme extremely well. He’s currently listed as the starter, we think he could have the best statistical season among the defensive line.
Nick Williams – Finally back where he’s most comfortable, Williams has the body and speed of a desired safety. He’s a great complimentary piece to his childhood buddy Bacarri Rambo, and he brings the offensive knowledge as a former high school quarterback with him. The hardest task facing Nick is keeping fellow secondary member Jakar Hamilton behind him on the depth chart. Speaking of which….
Jakar Hamilton – Word is Jakar had a tremendous second half of spring practice and will see plenty of playing time this season. He started out a little shaky, but that was to be expected in his first couple months here in Athens. We should this safety attempting big hits in the fall, and his ball skills could place him on a few highlights by season’s end.
Branden Smith – OK I admit, Smith more than broke out with his 61-yard touchdown against South Carolina. He made his mark on offense last year, but he had fumbling issues on kickoff return and didn’t do too much on defense. Billed as the “Next Champ Bailey” by many, we see Smith rounding out this season. He should continue to pose as a lethal threat on offense and the return game and will be a steady contributor at cornerback.
Akeem Dent – Struggling through injuries all of last season, Dent missed his shot at a breakout junior year. Now back for his final go-around, Dent will start at one of the inside linebacker positions. Grantham is counting on Dent to verbally lead this defense from the onset of fall camp. He should also be able to lead by example on the field if he remains healthy.
Marlon Brown – There’s only a handful of receivers on the roster, and outside of the A.J. Green, Brown is the most unique and intriguing. This should be the year he’s used around the goal line, and on third down, if Green is covered up. With King facing a possible suspension, Brown undoubtedly will be on the field early this year.
DeAngelo Tyson – The current listed starter at noseguard, Tyson may not accumulate mass stats. But if he succeeds at his spot, this defense has the chance to flourish. Tyson will be responsible for eating up blockers, sometimes taking on two or more offensive players each down. The success of tacklers behind him will hinge on Tyson’s ability to free them up. We’re not all about stats here.
Christian Robinson – He may not have the upside of Marcus Dowtin, and he may still be undersized, but Robinson is one of those guys who works hard, finishes every rep and listens intently. There is something to be said for that. The size will eventually come, and he’s already listed as the starter opposite Dent at inside linebacker. If he can fend off Dowtin, he should have a decent first season as starter. Speaking of which….
Marcus Dowtin – Supremely gifted and blessed with good size, Dowtin is a prototypical inside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme. He led the team in tackles three times last season, so calling him a breakout player could also be a stretch. The junior has long-since been touted as one of the most talented athletes on the field, and he showed off this past G-Day. He had six tackles and one interception proving his worth at both dishing out a physical toll and making a play on the ball. The knock has been his drive, as he’s had the tendency to loaf at times in practice. If he goes 100 percent this fall, he could find himself at starter, and in on a lot plays in games.
Vance Cuff – He’s listed as the starter at corner opposite Brandon Boykin, as he managed to hold off Smith for the spot in the spring. Cuff made plays on the ball, and with his speed he can pick it and six it. This is his senior season, and his last shot so, don’t expect Cuff to fade.
Sanders Commings, Redshirt sophomore, Cornerback – He’s big and should be on the field in nickel packages. He has a nose for the ball and had one pick last year.
Alec Olgetree, Freshman, Safety. The highest-rated incoming freshman, Ogletree enters a crowded safety race.
Justin Anderson, Junior, Nose tackle. He has the body of a nose tackle. How quickly can he adjust to the defensive side of the ball?
A.J. Harmon, Redshirt Sophomore, Offensive tackle. Can he stay healthy?
Jordan Love, Redshirt Freshman, Cornerback. A toe injury kept him off the field last season as a true freshman. With a thin group at corner, he’ll get more than a look to see if he’s ready.
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