UGA Signing Class is Ring-Worthy
SEC East Champ UGA lost the least contributing players of any of the five ranked SEC schools from last year (BAMA, LSU, Arkansas, South Carolina, UGA). UGA had a few glaring positional needs and filled those nicely with top talent. The Dawgs defense was in the top five in 2011 in all major statistical categories and returns nine starters and multiple other contributing players. The offense returns six solid starters from 2011 and several other major contributors. Though dynamic and overall productive, the offense was much less consistent than necessary to win more than ten games, especially in the key power football categories of offensive line and running back. A lack of ball protection and an inability to grind out tough wins on the ground cost Georgia in 2011, and two starting senior linemen were lost to the NFL. The special teams replaces a top-flight punter and a record-breaking kicker that badly struggled in 2011.
T – John Theus (Five Star) – 6-6, 300 – Jacksonville – Regarded by several sources as the top offensive lineman in the nation and the top football player in the state of Florida. He may be a day one starter at one tackle opposite possible new starter and 2011 Dream Team recruit Watts Dantzler.
G/T – Greg Pyke – 6-6, 315 – Baltimore – Though certifiably mountain huge, he is a bit more of a project and may end up taking a redshirt while acclimating to SEC speed.
G – Mark Beard – 6-4, 290 – Alabama (transfer from a Kansas community college) – He is a grown man who will compete for a starting position at guard and can play tackle when needed, like he did last season. He is already on campus at UGA and redshirted his freshman year, so he has three full football seasons of eligibility remaining.
RB – Keith Marshall (Five Star) – 5-11, 190 – Raleigh – Top running back in country is already in school and is a straight-A student and speedster who outran Malcolm Mitchell in two-of-three recent footraces.
RB – Todd Gurley (Four Star) – 6-0, 205 – Tarboro, NC – Regarded as the second best runner in the Carolinas, he can be a between-the-tackles running back and won a state championship as a senior.
FB/ATH – Quayvon Hicks – 6-2, 245 – Pierce County, GA – Solid fullback and overall athlete who will push Ogletree for reps at fullback, while contributing elsewhere.
WR – Blake Tibbs (Four Star) – 6-1, 170 – Lithonia, GA – I anticipate a redshirt for this thin, fast playmaker. He may benefit most from practicing and developing good timing with quality backups Hutson Mason and Christian LeMay
TE – Ty Smith – 6-3, 220 – Colquitt County, GA – Quick receiving tight end will compete with redshirted Dream Teamer Jay Rome for reps at tight end and may start right away in some two tight end sets.
QB – Faton Bauta – 6-3, 225 – Palm Beach Gardens, FL – Throws a good deep ball but will be used as a wham running quarterback before he has a chance to start at QB. He enrolled early, so the short yardage WildDawg should be implemented for him soon.
P – Collin Barber – 6-2, 190 – Cartersville, GA – Replaces Drew Butler as starter and can also kick off and make field goals as needed.
K – Marshall Morgan – 6-3, 195 – Miami – Replaces Blair Walsh as starter and can also punt the football as needed.
OLB – Josh Harvey-Clemons (Five Star) – 6-4, 210 – Valdosta, GA – Top outside linebacker in the country committed to Grantham’s D out of talent-rich South Georgia.
DT – Jonathon Taylor (Four Star) – 6-4, 315 – Jenkins County, GA – Big and tough and may play in the rotation early in 2012.
NG – John Atkins (Four Star) – 6-4, 305 – Thomson, GA – Same as above.
DE – Josh Dawson (Four Star) – 6-4, 225, Tucker, GA – Onetime Vanderbilt commit fell in love with the Classic City on his official recruiting visit and has quick first step.
DE – Jordan Jenkins (Four Star) – 6-3, 250 – Harris County, GA – Has future NFL star written on him and won’t be out of the rotation for very long at DE and/or OLB.
DE – James Deloach – 6-3, 260 – Jenkins County, GA – Georgia loaded up at DE, and though some will shift to OLB at UGA he has the developing size to stay inside.
DE – Leonard Floyd – 6-4, 215 – Dodge County, GA – Smallest of the signed ends may be most likely to play exclusively at outside linebacker in the 3-4 in college.
CB/ATH – Sheldon Dawson (Four Star) – 5-11, 185 – Memphis – Top player in the state of Tennessee is a Branden Smith type speedy athlete, maybe even a Boykin.
The Georgia Playbook Magazine: View past issues and get a free digital subscription to The Georgia Playbook Magazine at: www.thegeorgiaplaybook.com, featuring senior writer Han Vance on UGA Basketball and UGA Football.