It’s that time of summer when various media outlets start predicting which true freshmen taking the field this fall will have the greatest impact.
Last year at this time, it was Isaiah Crowell and Malcolm Mitchell who rightly were predicted to be impact players as freshmen for the Georgia Bulldogs. When it comes to Mark Richt’s 2012 Dawgs, the two names that you’ll see most often as these lists roll out are highly rated tailback Keith Marshall and offensive lineman John Theus, both of whom are seen as being among the top new talent in the SEC.
The speedy, elusive Marshall, who started school in January and went through spring drills, is expected to push starter Crowell for playing time, while Theus, a Parade All American, is seen as a virtual lock to start at left tackle on the rebuilt Georgia offensive line — a rarity for a true freshman. Both have the potential to be dominating players.
And, of course, placekicker Marshall Morgan and punter Collin Barber are expected to step into starting roles as well.
But who else from UGA’s class of true freshmen is likely to earn playing time and perhaps have a significant impact?
It might take a while for Josh Harvey-Clemons, who can play inside or outside linebacker, to work his way to the top of the depth chart on defense, but Richt already has mentioned several times possibly using him as a receiver in the red zone, so he could make a mark early on.
Some observers think the other incoming tailback from North Carolina, Marshall’s buddy Todd Gurley, might be redshirted, but I’m not sure Georgia is going to redshirt any running backs post-Knowshon Moreno. Gurley will start out green but could get playing time as the season progresses, especially if one of the more experienced backs ahead of him falters. And there are some who believe he’ll wind up outshining both Marshall and Crowell.
Then there’s Quayvon Hicks, the nation’s top-rated fullback prospect, who also could wind up as a starter fairly quickly since the depth chart at that position currently is topped by a walk-on. Said Richt of Hicks: “He looks like a fullback. About a 255-, 260-pounder. He’s really put togther. You can see it in his eyes he can’t wait to get after it. He’s got to learn what to do, but I’d love to see him learn what to do and get his hat in the ring.”
Of course, in order for Hicks to make an impact, Mike Bobo first must rediscover the lost fullback page from his playbook.
A lot of people also are high on Jordan Jenkins to eventually wind up at the other outside linebacker spot opposite Jarvis Jones, though he’ll have to beat out some experienced, if not spectacularly talented, veterans.
And nationally ranked cornerback Sheldon Dawson could move up the depleted depth chart in the secondary, though his main impact might be in a year or two.
Which freshman do you expect to have the greatest impact? Marshall? Theus? Or one of the other first-year players?
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