Who will be spring’s breakout Dawg?

Carlton Thomas was last year's spring sensation. (Photo by Olivia King)

Carlton Thomas was last year's spring sensation. (Photo by Olivia King)

There’s usually at least a couple of breakout players every spring, though that doesn’t necessarily translate into anything big come the season, as Carlton Thomas found out last fall. Amid a reduced roster of running backs, the diminutive Thomas turned a lot of heads last spring and was just about the only offensive highlight of the G-Day game with his 20-yard TD run just before the final whistle.

But come the fall and the early-season problems with the offensive line and the running game, Mike Bobo didn’t seem to quite know what to do with Thomas. He played in just seven games and his big days for the season were running six times each against South Carolina and Vandy for 22 and 27 yards, respectively. He also caught a handful of passes.

Of course, this year’s spring breakout star might have more luck and play a bigger role in the coming season.

Looking at the roster and trying to figure which player might be primed to step up this spring is a guessing game, of course, based in part on potential with a healthy dash of wishful thinking thrown in. Let’s face it, there are players we’d love to see separate themselves from the crowd.

Orson Charles, for instance.

Will Orson Charles step up big this spring? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Will Orson Charles step up big this spring? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

It took a while for the hybrid tight end/receiver to start making much impact last season, but by the end of the year he was at least a part-time starter and had a tantalizing showing against Kentucky, catching a career-high four passes and scoring a touchdown. The Dogs need him to become an impact player in 2010, and starting off that way in the spring would be a good way to announce he’s ready.

Who else might grab some of the spotlight this spring? How about junior college star transfer Jakar Hamilton, who has a chance to stake a claim to one of the safety positions. Hamilton calls himself the “Hitman” and talks about wanting to become Georgia’s next big hitter. I’m looking forward to seeing what he shows us this spring.

Maybe one of the wide receivers playing alongside and behind A.J. Green will step up. If so, I know a lot of fans would love for it to be Marlon Brown, who came to Athens as a highly hyped recruit but lagged in picking up the system and had only two receptions last year, both in the Knoxville debacle. If Brown is the real deal, now would be a good time to start showing it.

Perhaps one of the linebackers in Todd Grantham’s new 3-4 scheme will be a breakout spring star. Darryl Gamble didn’t quite live up to his 2008 promise last season, but as one of the likely starters at inside LB, he’ll be in a prime position to try and fill the gap left by the departure of Rennie Curran. And while everyone’s expecting Justin Houston to become a QB-terrorizing star at outside LB, it’d be a big boost for the Dogs defense if Cornelius Washington did likewise. His big game last season was against Auburn, when he had three tackles, including a sack. A strong spring showing might be in order for him.

Which Dog do you expect a big spring from? Or who do you think most needs to step up their game by G-Day?

TOP QB BATTLE?

Of course, most eyes will be on the quarterback battle this spring, though frankly I’m not really expecting any one of the three candidates to run away with starting job this early.

It’s interesting to note, though, that CollegeFootballNews.com picks Georgia’s as the nation’s top QB derby of the spring. And that they think it’s a two-way battle between Zach Mettenberger and Aaron Murray, leaving Logan Gray out of the mix.

Here’s CFN’s summation: “While no one in Athens is banking on the second-coming of Matt Stafford this quickly, a small learning curve from the freshmen would be awfully nice. At 6-5 and 230 pounds, Mettenberger is a classic pocket passer, with the arm strength to make all the throws, including hitting a streaking A.J. Green in stride. Can he, however, avoid the rush, an incessant concern in the SEC? For Murray, that’s not so much of a problem. Easily the more athletic of the two, he’s able to extend plays when the pocket collapses and make throws on the move. Plus, he has a quick release and good zip on his throws, performing with the poise and confidence of a more seasoned hurler. Which second-year freshman has come further since bowl practices? Spring drills will begin to answer that in Athens.”

137 comments Add your comment

Eric

March 2nd, 2010
11:27 am

Daniels Dawgs

March 2nd, 2010
11:28 am

Aaron Murry!!!!!!!!!!!!

L-Dawg

March 2nd, 2010
11:31 am

GLORY GLORY TO OLE’ GEORGIA!!!!

JUST SEEING THE WORD “SPRING PRACTICE” MAKES ME FEEL A LITTLE BETTER ABOUT THIS ANNOYING SNOW TODAY.

I LOOK FOR HUGE THINGS OUT OF WASHAUN EALY. I TRULY BELIEVE HIS LATE SEASON SUCCESS LEFT A MOTIVATIONAL TASTE IN HIS MOUTH. I THINK BEFORE HIS DAWG-DAYS ARE OVER, GEORGIA TECH NERDS WILL SHAKE THEIR HEAD AND CRINGE AT THE NAME “WASHAUN EALY” MORE THAN THEY DO THE NAME “REGGIE BALL”

GO DAWGS!!!

{{{{{30-24}}}}}
8-1
60-39-5

Eric

March 2nd, 2010
11:31 am

Its time Tavarres King steps up.

Hurra Crane

March 2nd, 2010
11:32 am

Branden Smith will surprise a lot of people this year. He has gained some weight and could be an all conference DB this year. Rambo could be an all conference selection as well.

KD

March 2nd, 2010
11:33 am

KD

March 2nd, 2010
11:35 am

NOPE!! ONLY SIXTH

NC Dawg

March 2nd, 2010
11:37 am

7th. Top ten baby! my vote is for Orson

Cuz

March 2nd, 2010
11:57 am

Richard Samuel, the beast is back.

Cotton

March 2nd, 2010
11:59 am

CornWash at OLB – no doubt

Starring Kam Fong as Chin Ho

March 2nd, 2010
12:03 pm

I’ll be interested to see which of the receivers becomes #2 after AJ. Ga may be thin in numbers at wideout, but not talent. Now I guess we’ll all wait on DuLLdawg to tell us why Ga has gone down the tubes in a 5 page post

Frank Lane

March 2nd, 2010
12:07 pm

I think you will see the re-emergence of the Murray-Charles connection that worked so well in high school.

And I hope to see Richard Samuel have a great Spring. And finally, this is Logan Grey’s moment at either quarterback or a Chris Collinsworth kind of flanker which we could really use. Put him out in space and get him the ball. He is good for an extra 5 yards every play.

Debose

March 2nd, 2010
12:34 pm

“While no one in Athens is banking on the second-coming of Matt Stafford this quickly”

What did Stafford do for UGA besides be a #1 pick? He didn’t win an SEC Title, didn’t play in one, and he led the preseason #1 team to 3 losses. Dawg fans shouldn’t want a second coming of those results.

Where's my crack pipe?

March 2nd, 2010
12:37 pm

Remember that the “Break Out” GDay game last year was agains the Georgia Defense…….that is why I didnt get too excited. Betty White could have a break out year against a Willie Defense

SCDAWG

March 2nd, 2010
12:50 pm

Marlon Brown needs to do something to live up to all the hype. He was a major disappointment last year. Richard Samuel will be the spring’s breakout dawg at his new position.

How2fish

March 2nd, 2010
12:50 pm

The play of our nose tackles will be HUGE..the new D will depend on them to perform..if they can have a good spring and learn the system quickly..we will be well ahead of the curve going into fall camp…a lot to look forward to the next few weeks !

Nolskii

March 2nd, 2010
12:57 pm

6′ 6″ 320lbs my vote is for big ole Kwame Geathers to show out and hold down the new nose position

SOUTHGADAWG88

March 2nd, 2010
1:06 pm

I hope to hear that the OL was the dominant unit this spring.I keep hearing rumors that Justin Anderson is moving to NT.Heard it was between him and AJ Harmon to make the switch.Frankly I’m a bit surprised it will be big Bean but that’s what being bandied about on Scout.com

SOUTHGADAWG88

March 2nd, 2010
1:09 pm

Debose what is the problem with Stafford?He played well at UGA(well enough to be the 1st pick in the draft)One man does not make a TEAM.

1eyedJack

March 2nd, 2010
1:10 pm

Every single one of them needs to up the ante.

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

March 2nd, 2010
1:11 pm

the star in spring will be samuel who will light people up . he will be a star on the defensive side of the ball

SOUTHGADAWG88

March 2nd, 2010
1:23 pm

Samuel just turned 19…to ask him to learn a new position AND have an impact at LB over guys who have starting experience at ILB(two of them SR)is a tall task if you ask me.I think we ought to RS him….give him a year to learn both LB spots and then turn him lose in 2011

DamnGoodDawg

March 2nd, 2010
1:29 pm

Hey jellybean, this is a football blog… Hence the name “Junkyard Blawg” as in junkyard defense…

BadDog

March 2nd, 2010
1:32 pm

Bill, just curious who the projected punt returner is going to be this year if Logan Gray(who isn’t the best choice at PR anyway) becomes the starter and Prince Miller is gone.

Toole

March 2nd, 2010
1:49 pm

Look for Kwame Geathers and Rantavious Wooten to be huge this spring.

BadDog

March 2nd, 2010
1:50 pm

Bill, nevermind I found a projected UGA depth chart which says either Brandon Smith or Carlton Thomas could have the PR job.
http://dawg-extra.blogspot.com/2010/02/projecting-ugas-2010-depth-chart.html

KDS

March 2nd, 2010
1:53 pm

i wouldnt mind seeing branden smith returning punts. didnt rhey time him at 4.28 last year?

i dont think “one” person alone will be the impact of spring, but the whole defense will! they have a lot to prove and they should be real hungry!!!!!!

ugaaccountant

March 2nd, 2010
1:58 pm

The hard part is predicting who will emerge from no playing time to make an impact. I’d go with Geathers for that one based on opportunity and family history.

And Logan Gray is not a serious candidate for the starting job. If he had anything to offer, last year was his chance.

How2fish

March 2nd, 2010
1:58 pm

SOUTHGADAWG88 that’s not a bad idea about RS Samuel.

timthebrave

March 2nd, 2010
2:10 pm

I would like to see Logan Gray throw the ball. Defenses knew that he was going to run everytime he was in the game. We need several people to step up this year.

AceDawg

March 2nd, 2010
2:21 pm

Let’s be honest – we need lots of “breakouts” if we fans are going to have a lot to cheer about this year. QB is most important, but since we all have a general confidence that the winner can at least reach Joe Cox level quality, we have to count on Grantham making the defense perform better. If recruiting mags mean anything, we still have the depth and talent to be better on D than most teams in the nation, so Grantham just needs to unleash the hounds some more and give them a tougher mental edge.

BG

March 2nd, 2010
2:25 pm

Aaron Murray!!!!!

Joe

March 2nd, 2010
2:25 pm

who cares….really who cares…..this team just needs to learn how football is played in the SEC and quit worrying about crap like “breakout dawg” who cares……….

Ted

March 2nd, 2010
2:27 pm

I agree- time to shut up and put up. breakout spring usually leads to breakdown fall

Lee

March 2nd, 2010
2:29 pm

My expectations for our team this year is what we have seen. Plenty of talent but no team. plenty of smack talk but no team. plenty of dancing but no team. yes- we will win some and lose some…blow outs to a couple of people..probably a loss to SC, Vandy or KY. toss in a meltdown against someboby…yep- same old crap different year

redeployed dawg

March 2nd, 2010
2:30 pm

I agree with Cotton; I think Washington is waiting to break loose. I have been predicting it for awhile and I think the 3-4 will perfectly fit his skills. It would also be great to see Richard Samuel turn into a monster. He is a tremendous athlete.

Robster

March 2nd, 2010
2:33 pm

Bill,
Simply because of his stature and speed, I’ve often wondered if Carlton Thomas could be a Warrick Dunn-like Dawg. But, I know little about talent evalutation. What do you think of this comparison and will Thomas make an impact as a change of pace RB, who can make plays catching the ball in the flats?

Robster

March 2nd, 2010
2:34 pm

Also, I can’t spell evaluation. Ha.

AJGREENFAN

March 2nd, 2010
2:34 pm

It would be encouraging to see Marlon Brown, Rantavious Wooten, and Abry Jones have breakout springs. Everyone focuses on the NT and the lb’s in the 3-4, but the DE’s are who free up the edge for the likes of a Justin Houston, C. Wash, or Richard Samuel to get to the QB. I hope Murray wins the QB job.

How2fish

March 2nd, 2010
2:35 pm

Lee…history lesson..last time we were a dancing team..we ended up No2 in the nation after all was said and done..so take your Bug self back to the tickle pile….

People Keep Forgetting

March 2nd, 2010
2:39 pm

Samuels wasn’t just a running back in high school. He also played linebacker. He wanted Georgia to recruit him at linebacker, but was recruited as a running back instead. It will not take him long to get back into the defensive swing of things.

option smoption

March 2nd, 2010
2:40 pm

I can only hope Mett has progressed as far as people are saying he has. Last year he showed that he could throw the ball THRU the side of the barn, he just could’nt hit the door. IMO this is all smoke and mirrors and Murray is the QB this year. Logan Gray needs to move to WR. Great kid, great athlete, but not an SEC caliber QB.

Robster

March 2nd, 2010
2:40 pm

#8FAN,
Saw Wooten make some huge plays vs Kentucky. I won’t be surprised to see him have a stellar UGA career. As stated above, I am lousy at evaluating talent, but Rantavious is a tremendous athlete with great potential.

Bill, is there any chance AJ plays 4 years in Athens? Selfishly, I’d love to see him pass on the NFL Draft after next season. But, that’s a very selfish point of view.

UGA is Just Fine...

March 2nd, 2010
2:44 pm

SOUTHGADAWG88 & HOW2fish:

Richard’s not really learning a brand new position, He was a pretty good LB in HS and could have gotten a ship at that position as well. Since we’re switching to a 3-4 defense, he’s really not under much more of a learning curve than anyone else, and is a tremendous athlete.

I’d like to see Kris Durham have a breakout spring coming off of injury. We could definitely use him. Also Israel Troupe.

On Defense, I’m hoping to see someone like Jordan Love or Shaun Williams step up to give us solid depth.

getthepicturenow

March 2nd, 2010
2:44 pm

hearing that Sanders Commings is really coming into his own. He has the body style that Coach Lakatos likes at corner and will also work some at safety. Its hard to believe how bad our secondary was last year with big willlie style. I can’t wait to actually see one of our guys break on a pass and at the very least break it up. i might give that a standing o!!!

Time for the RFr.

March 2nd, 2010
2:46 pm

If Logan was any good the coaches would have played him more last season. Time for M &/or M to step up.

Russ the Temporary Mascot

March 2nd, 2010
2:53 pm

Who will be the breakout dawg? Well, in all modesty, me. The new litter of pups still isn’t big enough to be the mascot, and I’m here. Besides, unlike UGA VII, I don’t snap and snarl at our opponents.

Anyway . . . oops, got to go. Here comes that guy with the paint brush again.

Summit Dawg..

March 2nd, 2010
2:56 pm

I hope to see everyone on the team be the “breakouts!”

ill dawg

March 2nd, 2010
2:59 pm

I look for the whole team to break out of this 30year slump and claim what is rightfully OURS!! Go Dawgs!! Woof wooof wooof.

Gratefuldawghead

March 2nd, 2010
3:00 pm

6′5 230 and can hit AJ Green in Stride? The rest of the time we can RUN that Rock!