It’s pretty clear that Georgia’s offense will be reloading next season. Depending on the decision of quarterback Aaron Murray — it’s not as cut-and-dry as you might think — the Bulldogs should be returning 10 starters (only WRs Marlon Brown and Tavarres King graduating).
The same can’t be said of the defense. In total, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is expected to lose 12 players who started games for him this season. Three of those are underclassmen who I expect will turn pro shortly after the Jan. 1 Capital One Bowl: outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, inside linebacker Alec Ogletree and defensive lineman Kwame Geathers.
The other nine are seniors who have exhausted their eligibility: Safeties Bacarri Rambo and Shawn Williams, cornerback Sanders Commings, noseguard John Jenkins, defensive ends Abry Jones and Cornelius Washington, linebackers Christian Robinson and Michael Gilliard, and versatile defensive back Branden Smith.
So Georgia will be totally rebuilding on defense. It’s no wonder the Bulldogs already have 17 defensive prospects committed in recruiting, with more expected to come between now and national signing day.
Here’s an early look at how the defense might stack up next season. This was done without the consultation of Grantham, who’s not known for his penchant for sharing, so it’s just an educated guess. Feel free to agree or disagree and add your two cents worth. . . .
2012 season (starter; backup) – 2013 season (starter; backup)
Garrison Smith, Jr.; John Jenkins, Sr. – RETURNING STARTER, NEW BACKUP (Jr. Mike Thornton or So. Sterling Bailey)
John Jenkins, Sr.; backup Kwame Geathers, Jr., – NEW STARTER (RFr. Jonathan Taylor), NEW BACKUP (Incoming freshman or JUCO transfer)
Cornelius Washington, Sr.; Ray Drew, So. – NEW STARTER (Drew, Bailey or Thornton), NEW BACKUP (same)
Jarvis Jones, Jr.; Ramik Wilson, So. – NEW STARTER (Jordan Jenkins), NEW BACKUP (Sr. T.J. Stripling, So. Josh Dawson, or So. James DeLoach)
Jordan Jenkins, Fr.; backup Josh Dawson, Fr. – RETURNING STARTER (Jenkins switches to Will), NEW STARTER (Sr. Chase Vasser, Dawson or DeLoach)
Amarlo Herrera, So.; backup Michael Gilliard, Sr. – RETURNING STARTER, NEW BACKUP (Brandon Burrows, Kosta Vavlas or incoming player)
Alec Ogletree, Jr.; backup Christian Robinson, Sr. – NEW STARTER (Wilson?), NEW BACKUP (Incoming player)
Sanders Commings, Sr.; Devin Bowman, RFr. – NEW STARTER (Jr. Damian Swann), SAME BACKUP
Branden Smith, Sr.; Damian Swann, So;. – NEW STARTER (So. Sheldon Dawson), NEW BACKUP (Bowman or incoming player)
Bacarri Rambo, Sr.; Connor Norman, RSo. – NEW STARTER (Corey Moore or Norman), NEW BACKUP (Norman or incoming player)
Shawn Williams, Sr.; Corey Moore, So. – NEW STARTER (Moore or Josh Harvey-Clemons); NEW BACKUP (Jr. Marc Deas or incoming player)
Damian Swann, So.; Josh Harvey-Clemons, Fr. – RETURNING STARTER (Swann switches to boundary corner; Harvey-Clemons takes over.); NEW BACKUP (Swann, Bowman or incoming player)