A dozen years into the Mark Richt era at UGA, it seems like a good time to take stock of the amazing talent that has played under him and compile an All-Richt team of the best players at each position.
It’s a fun exercise for a Bulldog fan, but tough when it comes to deciding between some of the stellar athletes who’ve played in Athens over the past 12 years. So I’ve taken advantage of the fact that most teams rotate what you might consider co-starters at some key spots to allow myself some latitude in making my choices. Basically, that’s my excuse for not narrowing each spot down to one name!
So here goes, the Junkyard Blawg All-Richt Team:
RB: Knowshon Moreno and Musa Smith. Moreno, an All-American, was a lock for the first spot. I put Richt’s first tailback in the other spot. A couple of folks I solicited nominations from thought Todd Gurley already deserved a place on the list as well, and if this list was done a couple of years from now that might well be the case, but I couldn’t really justify it after just one season.
FB: Verron Haynes and Brannan Southerland. Most lists of this sort don’t break the fullbacks out separately, but I think it’s an important enough position in the Richt offense to merit inclusion.
QB: David Greene and Aaron Murray. The Lefty, as Jeff Dantzler likes to call Greenie, was an easy choice, but I debated the second spot here for quite a while and nearly gave it to Matthew Stafford, who probably is the most talented quarterback Richt has had. However, I finally went with the kid who came back for his senior year and already has the UGA records for the most passing yards and most touchdown passes in a season. D.J. Shockley gets honorable mention in that, like Greene, he won an SEC title, but he was only a starter for one year.
WR: A.J. Green, Terrence Edwards, Fred Gibson and Mohamed Massaquoi. Since Georgia routinely uses four or five wide receivers between its split end and flanker spots, I felt justified in naming all four to my team. I’d admit, though, if I’d had to go with just one name it would have been Green.
OL: Jon Stinchcomb, Max Jean-Gilles, Fernando Velasco, Nick Jones and Ben Jones. Although the offensive line has been a perennial weakness for Richt teams, he’s had some superior talent playing up front. There are three All-Americans on that list and the others were All-SEC.
TE: Leonard Pope and Orson Charles. Pope was the quintessential tight end, effective both blocking and receiving, while Charles was really more of a receiver, making All-America because of his game-breaking capability.
PK: Billy Bennett. Runnerup: Brandon Coutu. Richt has had a number of top-notch placekickers, but these were the two who were always Mr. Reliable.
DE: David Pollack and Charles Grant. Defensive end has been one of those positions where Richt has had a wealth of talent. Pollack was a lock, but for the second spot I also gave consideration to sack specialists Quentin Moses, Marcus Howard and Charles Johnson. And it’s worth noting that Justin Houston was all-conference as a DE before switching to linebacker, where he an All-American.
DL: Johnathan Sullivan, Geno Atkins. Both of these All-SEC players were big tacklers and tough against the run.
LB: Jarvis Jones, Boss Bailey, Justin Houston and Tony Taylor. Linebacker is another position with a glut of talent in the Richt era. Worthy of honorable mention are Alec Ogletree, Rennie Curran and Odell Thurman.
CB: Tim Jennings, DeMario Minter. Both cornerbacks were All-SEC selections. Also worthy of mention are Donnan era holdover Tim Wansley from Richt’s first team, and Paul Oliver, whose too-short tenure at UGA included absolutely smothering and shutting down the nation’s best receiver at the time, Calvin Johnson.
S: Thomas Davis, Sean Jones and Greg Blue. I know, Georgia only plays two safeties at a time, but how are you going to decide between these three All-Americans?
P: Drew Butler. The All-American won the Ray Guy Award as the nation’s best punter. Honorable mention: Jonathan Kilgo and Gordon Ely-Kelso.
Kickoff returner: Brandon Boykin. Always a threat to score returning kicks, he holds a bunch of UGA records.
Punt returner: Damien Gary, Georgia’s career leader in both returns and yards. Honorable mention: Mikey Henderson.
I know there’ll be some “How could you forget so-and-so” comments, but be assured I didn’t “forget” anyone. These are my top choices, but I’m sure yours may differ in some spots (and at another time I might even have picked a couple of different names). Feel free to share your won favorites from the Richt era.
I’ll be off next week as we get my daughter Olivia set up in Athens for her sophomore year at UGA. But before I go let’s answer a couple of quick questions …
Josh Arthur writes: Bill, Take a look at this video on ESPN’s college football homepage. If you fast-forward to the 3:37 mark it looks like it may be a silver UGA helmet. Thoughts?
Josh, you weren’t the only UGA fan who watched that video and wondered whether that was some sort of alternate Bulldogs helmet, despite the blue stripe on it. But when I put the question to Georgia’s sports information chief, Claude Felton, he quickly shot that idea down. “This is not a Georgia helmet,” he said.
ECDawg writes: Bill, Could you provide us the date and time for 2013 Picture Day?
Yes, indeed. Picture Day will be Saturday, Aug. 17, in the Reed Plaza area on the north side of Sanford Stadium between Gates 2 and 4. Special tickets will be required for access to mascot Uga IX (aka Russ) and to Coach Richt. Those tickets will be distributed at 8 a.m. to the first 150 fans at the East ticket window on East Campus Road. Uga will be available from 1 to 3 p.m. (which is also when athletes from other UGA sports will be on hand) and Richt will be there from 3 to 5 p.m. Georgia football players will be available for photos and autographs from 3 to 5 p.m. The cheerleaders and Hairy Dawg will be available the entire time, from 1 to 5 p.m. To cut down on autograph sales, no outside items may be brought to Picture Day for signing. The athletic association will provide each fan with two free schedule posters for autographs. Concessions and merchandise sales will be available. Fans should enter Reed Plaza through Gate 2 in the northwest corner of the stadium across from the Tate Student Center, or through Gate 4 on East Campus Road. Both gates will open at 1 p.m. Parking will be available to the general public in all campus lots surrounding the stadium. Handicapped parking will be in the Tate Center lots.
And one last thing …
The UGA Athletic Association is launching a social media countdown to the season starting Tuesday, Aug. 6. Beginning that day and running the 25 days until the Clemson game, they’ll choose the best fan-submitted photo each day that shows you “committing to the G.” They want you to be creative. To participate, email your photo to CommitToTheG@gmail.com (please include your name and hometown). Then check the UGA sites on Facebook (GeorgiaBulldogs), Twitter (@UGAAthletics) and Instagram (ugaathletics) to see if your photo gets posted. Fans also are encouraged to share their favorite photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #CommitToTheG. The athletic association will retweet its favorites.
Got something you want to discuss concerning the upcoming football season or UGA athletics? Or a question you want the Junkyard Blawg to tackle? Email me at email@example.com.
Find me on Facebook.
Follow me on Twitter.
— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg