Which true freshmen are likely to be impact players for the 2012 Dawgs?

True freshman Keith Marshall started school early and went through spring drills. (University of Georgia)

True freshman Keith Marshall started school early and went through spring drills. (University of Georgia)

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.

John Theus is expected to be the rare true freshman who starts on the offensive line. (AJC file)

John Theus is expected to be the rare true freshman who starts on the offensive line. (AJC file)

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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139 comments Add your comment

EDawg71

June 28th, 2012
10:50 am

Ah, one of my favorite articles each year. Means we’re getting close boys and girls! Nice job as always Bill!!!

Tana

June 28th, 2012
10:54 am

I think that Hicks and Theus will have ahuge impact! We need better blocking to make the RB and Murray even better. The Crowell Marshall duo should be exciting, and I expect Gurley to get a reshirt since we will have depth issues downthe road considering Crowell and Marshall started as a true Freshman.

Dawg Haus

June 28th, 2012
10:57 am

Theus is the guy the Dawgs need to be an impact player right away, which is a little unnerving. Hicks is another guy I’d keep an eye on.

Frank Lane

June 28th, 2012
11:00 am

Marshall is my bet.

whatya got loren

June 28th, 2012
11:06 am

We need Theus to be a MAN (thanks coach gundy) and dominate on the O line. That’s our BIGGEST concern other than our “not so” special teams.

Excited to see how these DAWGS work together for a great year!

UGA 93

June 28th, 2012
11:06 am

Do not forget about Jonathan Taylor. He may not have an immediate impact but this guy is a beast. He is a D lineman but I think his future could be as a dominant offensive lineman.

Dawg Haus

June 28th, 2012
11:09 am

UGA 93, Taylor definitely looks like a beast. I hope he gets some playing time this season, but we might have to wait to see him since Washington and Drew look to be moving to the line.

Sam

June 28th, 2012
11:10 am

if we’re counting on more than one or two freshmen, then we’re in trouble.

duronimo

June 28th, 2012
11:19 am

I’m going with Gurley. He’s large enough for SEC play. I think Marshall will end up like Crowell .. not quite durable enough. Hicks is also SEC material. We’ll have great players but we always do. The questoin is, “can Richt & company coach these players to their potential. Can they give them a chance to win?”

Greg

June 28th, 2012
11:19 am

The kickers and Theus must come up big. Most of the others mentioned will see the field. I really like Sheldon Dawson.

Taco Meat

June 28th, 2012
11:20 am

I’m glad someone mentioned J. Taylor, the kid is a beast. I think that Theus, Jenkins, Marshall, Hicks and Gurley will all make an impact if given the opportunity.

tony

June 28th, 2012
11:22 am

Jordan Jenkins and Todd Gurley

GTBob

June 28th, 2012
11:23 am

Are you guys really relying on that many freshman to make a big impact? How does that happen when you have top 5 recruiting classes every year?

Jasper Fraaaanks

June 28th, 2012
11:30 am

BLAKE BARNES!

Sunny Cloisters

June 28th, 2012
11:32 am

Can any of these dummies read and write above a 5th grade level?

SSIgator

June 28th, 2012
11:33 am

It is like Spurrier used to say – all of those four and five star players that UGA gets – misused and abused – and never heard from again.

Flo-Ri-Duh

June 28th, 2012
11:35 am

Both kickers must be consistent. Walsh was terrible last year and UGA had no special teams coach to show him how to return to his 2010 greatness. UGA needs a special teams coach but Richt stubbornly hangs on to his out dated philosophy of piecemeal coaching for the special teams. John Theus will play early but not start the 1st game. Marshall will alternate but Crowell will start and Samuel will get a chance to be #2 RB. Not sure about Gurley this year as he came in late.but he is good. Probably a red shirt for Gurley unless injuries set in. The defense is set for this year – but several freshmen will get some playing time.

Booger Presley

June 28th, 2012
11:36 am

9 of last 10 GTBob.

AltamahaDawg

June 28th, 2012
11:37 am

Is the question, why would a team go ahead play a few of the top players from a top 5 recruiting class? Not really sure what you are asking there, Bob.

Flo-Ri-Duh

June 28th, 2012
11:38 am

Richt has sent more impact players to the NFL than Spurrier. All those great college QBs Spurrier sent to the NFL rode the bench – none started for any length of time – just like Spurrier when he was in the NFL. And Stanfill sacks Spurrier again!!!

Tomas Browne

June 28th, 2012
11:39 am

Are you guys really relying on that many freshman to make a big impact? How does that happen when you have top 5 recruiting classes every year?

That’s a really, really good question. The answer is that Richt loses most of them from flunking out of remedial reading, DUIs, beating up their girlfriends, plus a few who transfer because they’re smart enough to figure that Richt is a 3th rate coach who will never win big.

tide roll

June 28th, 2012
11:40 am

PLEASE GET OFF THIS THEUS CRAP. HE’S SLOW AS MOLASSES. CAME FROM A PRIVATE SCHOOL LEAGUE, AND WAS MOVED FROM TACKLE TO GUARD IN THE US ARMY GAME TO PREVENT SOME QB FROM GETTING BEHEADED, THIS IS THE VERY REASON UGA WILL NEVER ‘GET THERE”. IT’S THE FANS WHO STUBBORNLY REFUSE TO OBJECTIVELY LOOK AT FACTS THAT WOULD ALLOW THEM TO GENUINELY QUESTION RICHT/BOOBOO’S DECISION MAKING. BRANDON GREENE WAS, IS, AND WILL BE A SUPERIOR OFFENSIVE LINEMAN TO THEUS, BUT YOU LET HIM GO TO BAMA. IT’S NO DIFFERENT WITH ANTHONY JENNINGS. HE PROVED IT IN HEAD TO HEAD COMPETITION WITH RAMSEY, YET RICHT/BOOBOO DON’T OFFER THE KID AND HE’S HEADED TO LSU. THESE ARE THE VERY TEAMS THAT PLAYED FOR A NATIONAL TITLE LAST YEAR. I THINK THEY KNOW WHAT THEY’RE DOING, DON’T YOU? THESE ARE THE QUESTIONS DAWG FANS SHOULD BE ASKING AND THEY SHOULD DEMAND ANSWERS. NOT HIS ONGOING “KOOL AID DRINKING” RATIONALIZATION. IT’S WHAT’S KEEPING YOU FROM “GETTING THERE” 31 YEARS IS ENOUGH, DON’T YOU THINK?

Flo-Ri-Duh

June 28th, 2012
11:42 am

Taylor is a DT and will be red shirted as he has two of the top DTs in the country ahead of him. He will get his chance in 2013 when Jenkins leaves.

DIT

June 28th, 2012
11:42 am

Theus, we need all the help we can muster on that O-Line.

GTBob

June 28th, 2012
11:48 am

Not really sure what you are asking there, Bob.

I guess I am asking why the incredible talent that UGA has recruited the last 3-4 years would have any chance of losing playing time to a group of unproven freshman. Those guys were just as talented in high school, have been playing against the superhuman cyborgs in the SEC, and have had the benefit of UGA’s amazing coaching. In other words, what happened to the guys who came before these guys?

T-Dawg

June 28th, 2012
11:51 am

Earth to AJC… Atkins flunked his ACT test by two points. News?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

SSIgator

June 28th, 2012
11:53 am

Flo-Ri-Duh -

“Richt has sent more impact players to the NFL than Spurrier”

That is exactly the point. Spurrier is by far the better college football coach than Mark “I can win games – just not the big games” Richt because while Richt may have the raw talent, he doesn’t know what to do with it. It takes the NFL scouts to identify and then develop that potential. Kind of like Cam Newton would make a good tight end. But hey, at least UGA wins ten games a year sometimes.

Flo-Ri-Duh

June 28th, 2012
11:56 am

Tumble Bug – You lack intellect……. Theus was the top rated OL in Florida and he played in the top classification in the public school system there. EVERY major college offered him a scholarship including Bummer. Grow up!

AltamahaDawg

June 28th, 2012
11:58 am

Because due to some recruiting shortages, some attrition, and a couple of classes prior that were far from a top 5, we are looking for depth and some of these guys are more talented than the typical freshman. Does that answer your question?

Flo-Ri-Duh

June 28th, 2012
12:04 pm

SSIgator – Richt didn’t send “raw” talent to the NFL ……. most of them were starters in the NFL from day ONE. That means they were “developed” in college by hard work and coaching. Georgia’s OL has been lacking the last 4 years and that has held them back. This year the OL is still the big question mark as well as special teams. Urban Meyer saw a train wreck coming and quit ahead of it. Florida’s “D”will be good but they are not good enough on the “O” – especially at QB to win the SEC this year and I predict their head coach will b on the HOT SEAT if they lose 4 games like I think they will.

Flo-Ri-Duh

June 28th, 2012
12:06 pm

T Brown – you question intelligence when you say “3th”…… you are hilarious.

Willdabeast

June 28th, 2012
12:06 pm

GTBob,
We are looking at the POSSIBILITIES of where these guy would play if given playing time. No one is saying that all 5 or 6 of these guys are starting. The only players who were slated to probably start were a tackle, punter, and kicker. It is guys like GTBob who just to stupid assumptions that make the Tech fan base look ignorant.

Willdabeast

June 28th, 2012
12:08 pm

*jump to stupid assumptions not just to. my bad

Dawg Haus

June 28th, 2012
12:13 pm

Has anyone heard an update on Kolton Houston? Are his NCAA issues (whatever they were) that kept him from playing last season all taken care of? Is he still getting a serious look at left guard?

Old Dawg

June 28th, 2012
12:13 pm

I don’t care which freshman makes a contribution to the team. I just wanna get it done on the field.

Can’t wait for camp to start and the beginning of the season.

Thanks for helping to keep the Dawg fires burning, Bill.

SSIgator

June 28th, 2012
12:15 pm

Flo-Ri-Duh -

So the UGA rally cry now is, “We haven’t won a NC in over thirty years (and probably never will with Richt & Co. at the controls) but boy, we are really good at sending great players to the NFL”. Kind of makes all of the NC discussion a moot point as far as UGA is concerned.

UGA – the college football hothouse for the NFL – but no titles

ARdawg

June 28th, 2012
12:24 pm

“So the UGA rally cry now is, “We haven’t won a NC in over thirty years (and probably never will with Richt & Co.”

Your tinfoil hat never goes out of style does it?

Columbia Dawg

June 28th, 2012
12:27 pm

SSIgator- Is there not a Florida blog you could be on? Why are you always on a Georgia blog? Are you that petty you have to come on to another team’s blog and rant and rave?

Pat

June 28th, 2012
12:33 pm

Theus. No doubt.

UGADawg83

June 28th, 2012
12:34 pm

Don’t like the idea of a freshman o-line starter. Also Bill you could have writen this column without taking a shot at Bobo and made your point just as well. Stunts like that weaken your credibility.

lucky21

June 28th, 2012
12:43 pm

I am a Tech fan, but I have to ask why would you ever play a true freshman on offensive line? In any offense the place where you want the most experience is on the lines, especially for OLine where the blocking schemes are so complicated, and have a huge learning curve. There are a few places where playing a true freshman is okay namely running back, WR, sometimes DB, and maybe at DE for pass rushing if the kid is a megahoss already. The learning curve for Tackle and guard is huge, and almost by nature requires a redshirt year, so I want to know why you Dawgs are so keen to rely on them.

UGA 4 LIFE

June 28th, 2012
12:47 pm

i like sheldon dawson on special teams kick return/ punt return electric player

SSIgator

June 28th, 2012
12:52 pm

Columbia Dawg -

I guess every so often I have to explain this so guys that visit the blog can connect the dots.

a) I live on Saint Simons Island or as AltamahaDawg refers to it “the island”

b) The last property tax bill I received indicated that SSI is still in the State of Georgia

c) As you would probably suspect, there are a lot of UGA football fans that live here as well

d) The AJC is a Georgia paper which covers UGA fooball and is read by many people here locally

e) I play golf & fish with a lot of UGA fans that read this blog and we discuss it from time to time

Any other questions?

AlathamaDawg

June 28th, 2012
12:55 pm

I wonder how many freshmen LSU and Bama are counting on this year?

THE Dixie Redcoat Band

June 28th, 2012
1:05 pm

We agree with everybody, UGA has had a Top Ten recruiting class for years and years and now may need some freshmen to “step up”? Amazing coaching staff.

AltamahaDawg

June 28th, 2012
1:07 pm

Flo-ri-duh, I think Blair Walsh had the exact same kicking coach that he had the 3 years prior, so I don’t know if Right had appointed somebody on his staff to “co-ordinate” special teams in 2010, that person would have really just been able to “fix” whatever that was. The outdated model, as you call it, used at Georgia is the same way the vast majority of teams do it. It’s just a product of NCAA limits. The guy with the Vikings (if thats what prompted that comment), has a staff of specialist, you can bet one of them is a place kicking only staffmember, and 6 month to sit back and figure it out.

Now if appointing one of the Georgia position coaches to oversee special team in general would improve things such as kick coverage, thats fine. Debatable, but certainly thats something Richt has done before, and other do as well. I just think a kicker slump is very technical, and rare, and unrelated to the special teams model used.

BKbroila

June 28th, 2012
1:10 pm

Hopefully, Barber and Morgan will have the most impact….It would be nice to win two or 3 games/year rather than lose them because of the kicking game….Hicks needs to have a big season!!!

GG

June 28th, 2012
1:12 pm

They all will!!!

Ok, after looking at last year, once the full contact started, Mitchell and Crowell ended up missing in more games than they played in, and Drew had 3 sacks.

So truly, none will probably make an impact as a Freshman.

SmartiePant

June 28th, 2012
1:13 pm

Bauta after Murray throws his 33rd interception in game 3.

Holepuncher

June 28th, 2012
1:15 pm

If Theus starts, we lose the South Carolina game as Clowney will go off on him. Marshall is too frail to make it through a season uninjured.

How about Gurely.