To get ready for the March 20 start of Georgia’s spring football practice, DawgNation will do a position breakdown each day. Today we analyze the tight ends. On Friday we will look at the offensive line.
2011 starters (stats): Orson Charles, Jr. (45 catches, 574 yards, 5 TD)
Key losses: Charles; Aron White, 2011 senior (9-101, 4 TD)
New faces: Rome -- the nation’s No. 18 overall prospect and top tight end on the ESPNU 150 in 2011 -- redshirted last season because of the Bulldogs’ depth at his position. He figures to contribute immediately, as could Ty Smith (Moultrie, Ga./Colquitt County), who signed in February and should arrive in the summer.
Spring goal: Charles and White were just about the only Georgia tight ends to catch a pass through the last three seasons. Lynch caught the only two passes of his career as a freshman in 2009, totaling 17 yards, before redshirting in 2010 to gain extra class separation between himself and Charles.
Lynch played in every game last year, primarily as a blocker and on special teams, but he will be more of an every-down player with Charles and White no longer on the roster. The Bulldogs need Lynch and Rome to begin showing this spring that the tight end’s role in the passing game will remain in good hands even with two newcomers who barely have any college receptions to their credit.
Worth watching: Because he has already been on campus for three years, Lynch might be better prepared to start than any of his younger position mates. But Rome has dynamic athletic ability -- he also played for Georgia’s basketball team this winter, after all -- that should help him compete for playing time.
Either way, Lynch and Rome should play key roles in Georgia’s offense, both as pass catchers and as blockers. It will be interesting to see how their spring competition helps determine their official roles as starter and backup.
Area of concern: The depth here is not great. Lynch and Rome should be an outstanding combination, but Georgia would have serious concerns if either of them was to suffer an injury. It would not be at all surprising to see Smith contribute as a freshman if he is remotely prepared when he arrives on campus.
Position grade: B. Lynch and Rome were two of the nation’s most heavily recruited tight ends when they signed with Georgia, so potential is not in question here. Neither player has proven anything yet in college, however, and the depth behind them is almost nonexistent.