Linebackers: Promising group despite virtual makeover since last season

Seventh in a series breaking down Georgia’s 2011 team by position . . .

Georgia is counting on junior Christian Robinson's leadership and play-making abilities at linebacker this fall. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Georgia is counting on junior Christian Robinson's leadership and play-making abilities at linebacker this fall. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

THE LINEBACKERS

  • Projected starters: SAM Jarvis Jones (So., 6-3, 241), MIKE Christian Robinson (Jr., 6-2, 226), MO Alec Ogletree (So. 6-3, 236), WILL Cornelius Washington (So., 6-4, 260)
  • Returning starters: Robinson started 11 games at the “Mo” inside linebacker last season and Washington started eight at the “Will” outside position. Alec Ogletree was moved to the Mo in the spring after starting five games at strong safety as a true freshman last season. Robinson moved to Mike.
  • Others to watch: This is the much-anticipated debut season of Jarvis Jones, who had to sit out this past year after transferring to Georgia from Southern Cal. Jones (6-3, 241) is slated to start at “Sam,” or strongside outside linebacker, but first he has to clear some recently-raised eligibility issues. . . . Former starting tailback Richard Samuel will be playing his first season on defense for the Bulldogs. He redshirted his junior season last year while making the initial transition. He is currently second-team at “Mo” but could play outside linebacker if called upon. . . . Reuben Faloughi, Michael Gilliard and Chase Vasser will be counted on as backups.
Moving Alec Ogletree (9) from strong safety to Mo linebacker was bold and potentially bountiful.

Moving Alec Ogletree (9) from strong safety to inside linebacker was bold and potentially bountiful. (AP photo)

  • Key losses: Georgia lost a massive amount of production from this unit. Gone are leading tackler Akeem Dent (126 tackles); pass-rushing specialist Justin Houston (10 sacks); No. 4 tackler Marcus Dowtin, who transferred out; and No. 7 tackler Darryl Gamble, who graduated. That’s 259 tackles, 14 sacks and 52 games played just from last season. The Bulldogs also lost linebackers coach Warren Belin to the NFL.
  • Newcomers: Georgia signed five linebackers in February to shore up depth, including five-star prospect Ray Drew (6-5, 250) of Thomasville, who will be expected to contribute immediately. The Bulldogs also inked Sterling Bailey (6-5, 260) of Gainesville, Amarlo Herrera (6-1, 224) of College Park, Kent Turene (6-3, 225) of Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., and Ramik Wilson (6-2, 218) of Tampa.
  • Key developments: As alluded to earlier, the eligibility issues facing Jones threaten to dog Georgia up until the season opener like those facing A.J. Green did last year. A police investigation into alleged corruption within the ranks of the Columbus parks and recreation department revealed that some of Jones’ flights to Los Angeles his first season at USC were paid for by the department’s director from state funds. Even though Jones was at Southern Cal, the NCAA could require Jones to sit out games at UGA. Georgia has launched its own investigation and will fight to get the situation resolved well before the season opener, unlike last year’s fiasco with Green, who ended up sitting the first four games.
  • Key question: This is year two of Georgia’s switch to a 3-4 defense under defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. But due to all the reshuffling, three of the four projected starters will be playing new positions.  How quickly and how well will the group adapt to new assignments and new inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti?
  • Outlook: Uncertain but promising. If there were no issues facing Jones, it would be tempting to say this is an across-the-board improvement. But the drop from Jones to Vasser would be steep and moving Samuel back outside could be complicated. Meanwhile, moving Ogletree to Mo from strong safety was a bold move and, even though Grantham says he’s “100 percent certain” it was the right thing to do, it’s an uncertain how he’ll perform in games.
  • Your turn: What’s your view of Georgia’s linebacker corps?

PREVIOUS POSITION BREAKDOWNS:

July 8 — Defensive line

July 7 — Quarterbacks

July 6 — Running backs

July 5 — Tight ends

July 2 — Wide receivers

July 1 — Offensive line


262 comments Add your comment

Destin Dawg

July 11th, 2011
6:21 am

Destin Dawg

July 11th, 2011
6:23 am

might need to put Samuel back on offense ???

Destin Dawg

July 11th, 2011
6:23 am

also Mike Thornton to OG ????

Destin Dawg

July 11th, 2011
6:26 am

I think we’ll see Grantham’s Junkyard Dawg kick it up a notch this year.. we’ll win turnover/field position with kicking and DDDEEEEEEE !!! Go Dawgs !!!

DaculaDawg

July 11th, 2011
6:49 am

Why no mention of the impact Ray Drew could have ?

RedandBlackDAWG

July 11th, 2011
7:10 am

There is a lot of inexperience at LB position but the young men look like they have talent and size. If the DL steps it up like expected, it will help the LB’s out a lot. Either way though, they are going to have to be ready to hit hard, and take control of the middle layer of the defense. I think we have the coach to make this a success, but the first two games are going to be a baptism under fire so he has got to have them ready.

JB

July 11th, 2011
7:12 am

The guys in front of them should give them a lot of room to operate. That said, lets hope JJ is playing.

HBTD!!!

JB

July 11th, 2011
7:19 am

I hope the D is a lot better, because the offense will be hit and miss for starters. Most SEC teams have a three deep set at RB with 2-3 younger in the wings types. We do not. Our #3 is a walk on and our projected starter and never taken a snap in college. Here’s hoping that Crowell can be the real deal, But as the story states, physically, we look pretty good on D.

Delirious

July 11th, 2011
7:26 am

I don’t think they will be worse than last year.

JB

July 11th, 2011
7:29 am

Boise,SC,Miss St,Tenn,Fla,AU,Tech………………All trouble…………..And you might throw Kentucky in there……………………Thank you, Larry Munson’s Nephew….LOL

Tide Roll

July 11th, 2011
7:33 am

Free Richard Samuel. Hopefully, Ramik Wilson, Amarlo Herrera, or Kent Turene, can be adequate back ups inside thus allowing Samuel to be where he belongs, Running Back. Otherwise, Samuel at back up “Mo” as a junior basically ends his career. The kid really needs to move on to a school that’s willing to play him at running back, where his future lies. It hurts losing the experience of Dowtin and Nick Williams as well, especially Dowtin. Weird going ons in Athens as usual. Something’s always in transition .Always in some “rebuilding mode.” Ogeltree would have been another Blue at safety. I guess the emergence of Shawn Williams dictated the move.

Wonderful Ohio on the Gulf 'Dog

July 11th, 2011
7:38 am

Will Ray Drew redshirt? What is the prospect that Drew will challenge Washington at Will? Or will Drew be in the mix on the line?

Paddy

July 11th, 2011
7:58 am

I thought Drew was an end? Must be, as this article is about LB’s. Or maybe no incoming Frosh are listed for a reason?

just a fan

July 11th, 2011
7:59 am

@tide roll Richard Samuel was a great LB in high school and he will be a great LB in college. Also he only seemed like a avg RB in college he got his opportunity and never did he anything with it.

Shawn

July 11th, 2011
8:01 am

Our front 7 will be dominant, the strength of this team! Tide Roll, for all the talk about UGA football you must not watch very much. Without a huge hole Samuel would run 3 yards until he ran into someone and fall down. He does not make people miss at all therefore LB is his best chance to play and move on to the NFL!

jim

July 11th, 2011
8:05 am

Tide Roll = Smartest man in college football

DollarDawg43

July 11th, 2011
8:17 am

This team has a lot of question marks on both sides of the ball and the LB’s are no different. While this can’t help but make you nervous, the bright side to all of the reshuffling is that we are putting the most talent on the field regardless. Yes, they WILL make mistakes born from inexperience but talent always finds a way.

This team will be fun to watch. We may not have any fingernails left by mid-season but we’ll never bemoan a lack of effort from this bunch.

JB

July 11th, 2011
8:20 am

Samuel at RB was called by the pundits a big stiff back. Got more that his chance to prove himself.
In HS he was a man among boys. In college, he met some other men!

Troll Power Ratings

July 11th, 2011
8:21 am

I don’t know 1/10 as much about TECH, Bama, O State, etc., etc, as the trolls seem to know about Georgia. Thanks for caring so much and for all the well-spent time researching the Dawgs.

Quick, tide troll, who is UGA’s third team walk-on punter?

DawginLex

July 11th, 2011
8:22 am

this group is going to do great. The freshmen all need to redshirt and get stronger.

Now boys, as bad a week as we had last week, Auburn is about to have one of the worst ever seen. The fires are glowing over in toilet paper land and the hammer is about to drop. Might not be this week but folks are telling me it is gonna happen.

1eyedJack

July 11th, 2011
8:22 am

Is it September yet?

JB

July 11th, 2011
8:23 am

Richt and staff need to turn this team loose and let them play. Yes, there will mistakes, but let these athletes be themselves. We tend to play “over coached”.

BirdDog

July 11th, 2011
8:27 am

Personally, I think this group has a lot of upside. Hopefully, Jones will not be suspended. Robinson could stand to add about 10-15 pounds of muscle, he seemed a little soft last year. But I like the group’s potential! Go Dawgs!

Paul N Destin

July 11th, 2011
8:28 am

If you look at UGA over the past 4 years one has to ask what problems has this program had to overcome? probation…NO…Heach Coach replaced…NO….state with no talent…Heck No

Excuses anyone for their record? The clock has to be ticking on Richt for 2011.

Side note…Smoke is coming from the Plains. Stay tuned.

we ruin this state

July 11th, 2011
8:30 am

we’ll miss you – washaun and caleb!

JB

July 11th, 2011
8:30 am

TPR@8:21………I think we get a lot of visitors on here to “comment” on our Dawgs because #1, They are college football fans. #2, it’s Free. #3, A lot of these people live/work in the Atlanta Area and it gives them a chance to talk football, and some have class, some just hate. These blogs are 80% Georgia folks. Nobody but hard core follow the Tech blogs, so they are here where the action is. We have not been very good the last 2-3 years, so it opens the door for all the experts to tell Richt what is wrong, and bash our fan base. some hide behind their moniker( mostly Techies), but some such as Tide Roll just want to talk football. Go Dawgs

JB

July 11th, 2011
8:32 am

Paul N Destin……….come on man ,whatca hearing……don’t leave us hanging…….

slapAjacket

July 11th, 2011
8:33 am

@jim! only when you cross the bamer state line.

Born2Bark

July 11th, 2011
8:33 am

No mention of TJ STripling either…, he showed great potential before injury and I hear he’s added weight. I think Drew will see early playing time, too mature, smart, and athletic not to play early. GO DAWGS! Hope UGA doesn’t fall on the sword in regards to the Jarvis Jones thing, hope we push back if they try to impose an unfair punishment.

Tide Roll

July 11th, 2011
8:34 am

I can’t tell you who your 3rd string punter is, but I can tell you who’s married to Barb Dooley’s niece.It happens to be your offensive coordinator. It’s MIKE BOBO. What a coincidence. This stuff would never happen at BAMA. Saban wouldn’t allow it because it would be a BREACH of his duty to Bama players and fans to bring in the very best coach available. AND, the Bama administration wouldn’t allow it because it’s an INCREDIBLE CONFLICT OF INTEREST ! Only at UGA. What a program!

Are these questions too hot for Tide Roll to answer?

July 11th, 2011
8:34 am

Feel free to NOT answer if the following questions are embarrassing or uncomfortable for you to answer. Since you appear to be quite knowledgeable and opinionated on a number of issues, they should be easy, however.

1. Do you think Alabama would have won more games last year with Cam Newton at quarterback or Greg McElroy?
2. On Bana and Cam Newton’s recruitment: choose one
A. Saban got outrecruited by Chizik
B. Saban chose to not recruit Newton
3. If the answer to #2 is B, what possible reasons do you think led to Bama passing on Newton?

JB

July 11th, 2011
8:36 am

Frannie Mae……………We been there for 3 years………..I wait till we play……..Lot’s of hard work has been going on in Athens. C King is but one man. We might be better without him. He may have been a left over from the ” lip poked out group”.

Lowcountry BulldBack awg

July 11th, 2011
8:39 am

Samuel needs to keep his but on defense. I for one grew tired of watching him put the damn ball on the ground. Also I am not a big fan of putting alot of stock in Spring games but Chase Vasser was a was wreaking havoc. I don’t know if the drop from Jones to Vasser can be said to be steep. I think thats a little dramatic imo. Dont give me Jones and his measurables, I want a football player who can go make a play. If we are without Jones for 2 games it is no where near as significant as losing Green last year. Finishing though about Samuels, some of you guys must have forgotten over two years just how often he was dropping the ball. It was painful. He is better served as a backup at ILB and special teams maven right now.

More questions potentially too hot for Tide Roll to answer

July 11th, 2011
8:41 am

Again, since this may make you uncomfortable or be embarrassing to answer in this forum, please feel free to NOT answer if that is the case.

1. Do you think Saban is a good evaluator of talent?
2. Are you okay with it if Bama starts AJ McCarran over the Sims kid at QB?
3. If Saban does name McCarran the starting QB, do you think he is starting the best quarterback?

Answering may put you on the spot, if it does continue with your analysis of Georgia high school offensive linemen, which has added so much to this board over the past months.

JB

July 11th, 2011
8:41 am

I hope we put in 8-10 plays from the spread. Power football might be MIA this year. I’d bet my car today that little Carlton Thomas will open at Tailback against Boise.

Texas Baller

July 11th, 2011
8:43 am

Tide Roll……Price, Shula, Dubose

Great hires

STFU

Lowcountry Bulldawg

July 11th, 2011
8:43 am

Tide Roll,

You just posted a blog about how Bobo is married to Barb Dooley’s niece and how Bama wouldn’t allow it. Thats just dumb….

JB

July 11th, 2011
8:46 am

Stalling to Shula=a train wreck and many losses to Georgia. Can’t get anyone over there to remember that, just like the 80 years of Florida football history before Spurrier.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

July 11th, 2011
8:47 am

Alabama got Saban because his ass realized he was a “fish” outta water with the Dolphins in the NFL and he was desperate to get back into college. Alabama was the tight program because it would legitmize the program since the last coach they hired never coached a game because he was “making it rain”. So Alabama backed into getting Saban. Pure luck has now given morons like Tide Roll the belief that Andrew Zoe could have won a National Title under Saban.

JB

July 11th, 2011
8:49 am

My gut tells me this is South Carolina’s year. All the stars are lining up. They have a damn good football team taking the field this year, With Georgia still in a flux as well as Florida and Tenn….Never a better time for them IMO.

JDawg1785

July 11th, 2011
8:50 am

This should be a strength of Georgia’s going into the season, provided the NCAA doesn’t pull an A.J. with us on Jones.

jbdawg

July 11th, 2011
8:55 am

I like, or find interesting, about 40% of what tide roll has to say….but most of it is rhetoric. You have to take everything he says with a grain of salt much like with many other posters.

Someone needs to spill the beans on the smoke rising from Auburn. Is there a story or blog to read?

claytondawg

July 11th, 2011
8:56 am

I agree with many of you guys on here now. Leave Samuels at LB. He will certainly get good, quality playing time. If he’s the stud that some people say, then he can not only be a tremendous backup, but one helluva special teams player (THAT’S IMPORTANT). Looking forward to the denfense and their-better- than-average-playing-soft attitude.

Dawg '94

July 11th, 2011
8:59 am

The front 3 are going to be a lot better this season, which means the LBs will be a lot better this season. Last year’s group took plays off & ran around blocks. I have to think the LB coach is an upgrade too. This is going to be a GREAT season for the Dawgs!!!

RxDawg

July 11th, 2011
9:00 am

Chip, we need your investigating. Who will Richt move over to TB? Because I know we aren’t staying with 3 scholarship TBs with one of them being a true freshmen.

I don’t think it should be Samuels. We tried that, it didn’t work. He just doesn’t have the balance or something.

Jagger

July 11th, 2011
9:00 am

Starting to get a bad feeling about this year.

Tide Roll = GT Fan

July 11th, 2011
9:02 am

Anyone who reads these blogs often enough can see that Tide Roll is no Alabama fan. Why else would someone care so much about what one of their rivals is doing. He never brings any recruiting information from bama like bigtime and blackout, all he do is talk negative about the dawgs and the only people I know that do that are Techee’s.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

July 11th, 2011
9:06 am

Branden Smith RxDawg will get 3-4 carries a game now. Also Nick Marshall depending on his play may even see some snaps out of the Wildcat formation. This is easiest way I can see of making sure you have fresh legs for Crowell/Malcombe/Thomas.

Bali

July 11th, 2011
9:06 am

JB…don’t even joke about Thomas startin at tailback, Bobo might get wind of it and think it’s a good idea. If we use him the way we sometimes used Tyson Browning, in the flat, that would make more sense. But Barb’s neices’ husband will probably call 3 straight running plays for him right up the middle and keep his fingers crossed……..geez

big john 360 lbs

July 11th, 2011
9:08 am

Jarvis will be a soph. this year, not a jr. Correct?