Tight ends: Led by Orson Charles, strong UGA legacy poised to continue
We’re about one month away from the start of preseason football practices in Athens, so it’s time to take a closer look at Georgia’s 2011 football team. This is the third in a series during which we will break down each of the Bulldogs’ position groups to give you an idea of who the projected starters are and what the expectations might be. Then as always, we’ll throw it open for your commentary and analysis. There are only 60 days until Georgia’s season opener against Boise State. Time to get busy. . . .
There aren't many tight ends that can match the speed and athleticism of Georgia's Orson Charles, who promises to be a primary target for the Bulldogs this season. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)
THE TIGHT ENDS:
- Projected starters: Orson Charles (Jr., 6-3, 241), Aron White (Sr., 6-4, 239)
- Others to watch: Sophomore Arthur Lynch (6-5, 272), who played as a true freshman, returns to action after a redshirt season and gives the Bulldogs some extra thump on running downs. True freshman Jay Rome will likely get some looks on offense and special teams.
- Key losses: The Bulldogs moved senior Bruce Figgins, a former starter at tight end, to fullback in the spring to shore up depth in the backfield.
- Key fact: Georgia has produced an enormous amount of tight end talent for the NFL, including Leonard Pope, Ben Watson, Randy McMichael, Jermaine Wiggins and several others. That legacy seems poised to continue.
- Key fact II: White has already graduated and was actually selected to be a student speaker at graduation ceremonies in December. He’s a team leader and probably underrated as a football player.
- Key question: Does Charles become the primary target for quarterback Aaron Murray? The two have played together since they were at Plant High in Tampa and the Bulldogs lost their go-to guy early to the NFL in wide receiver A.J. Green. It could argued that Charles, who has averaged 16.2 yards per catch the last two seasons, has been under-utilized with 49 receptions and 5 TDs in 26 games. He won’t be under-utilized this season.
- Recent developments: Georgia’s problems on the offensive line could actually translate into more dependence on this position. In a pro-style offense, it’s never certain whether the tight end is going to block or run a pass route. The Bulldogs can move Murray around in the backfield and hit Charles and White on quick patterns and keep outside linebackers and defensive ends on their heels. Don’t forget about the 6-6, 250-pound Rome. The AJC Super 11 selection out of Valdosta was ranked the No. 1 prospect in the nation at his position by ESPN and is expected to be a huge pass-catching threat. He will also be given the opportunity to show his stuff.
- Outlook: Excellent. This is unquestionably the strongest position on the team.
- Your turn: Your thoughts on the tight ends?
PREVIOUS POSITION BREAKDOWNS:
July 2 — Wide receivers
July 1 — Offensive line