- David Ching, ESPN Staff Writer
Editor’s note: Over the next several weeks, we’ll take a look at each position on Georgia’s depth chart and project how it might look in the future. Today we examine Georgia’s nose guards:
* Who’s ready to move up for more playing time?: This won’t be as pressing of a need if Geathers decides to return for his senior season. If he does not, redshirt freshman Jonathan Taylor and sophomore Michael Thornton would be the next two nose guards on the roster to watch.
* High-profile commits: Georgia commits John Atkins (Thomson, Ga./Hargrave Military), DeAndre Johnson (Newnan, Ga./Northgate) and Chris Mayes (Griffin, Ga./Mississippi Gulf Coast CC) all might open their careers at nose. Atkins, who said this week that he will learn next week whether he achieved a qualifying ACT score that would allow him to enroll in January at UGA, is versatile enough to play end or nose.
* Additional targets on the board: ESPN lists five-star target Montravius Adams (Vienna, Ga./Dooly County) and junior college prospect Toby Johnson (College Park, Ga./Hutchinson CC) as defensive tackles, but we would expect them to play defensive end if they sign to play in Georgia’s 3-4 scheme.
* 2013 game plan: Geathers’ decision on whether to enter the NFL draft will have a significant impact on the defensive line’s stability entering 2013. If he bolts, defensive line coach Rodney Garner will have to break in an inexperienced player at the greatly important nose position, whether it’s someone already on the roster like Taylor or Thornton or one of the newcomers.
* And 2014?: Taylor and Atkins were both members of the ESPN 150 a year ago, but neither player saw the field at Georgia in 2012. Taylor redshirted, and Atkins did not qualify and instead attended prep school. Also, Mayes was a prospect whose raw potential excited the coaches when he signed as a member of the 2011 “Dream Team” before attending junior college for the last two years. At this point, we don't know who will be the leading figures at the position, but talent should not be an issue.
* What about 2015?: By this point, Georgia could be back in the position that it was this season -- with veteran players anchoring the center of the line. Should they stay healthy and in the coaches’ good graces, the players who are now preparing to join the Bulldogs will be upperclassmen who should have a solid grasp on their role in the defensive scheme by 2015.
3dGreg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough