- 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 outside linebackers.
Current two-deep depth chart:
(Junior Chase Vasser played in five games and started twice before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury)
Who’s ready to move up for more playing time?: If Jones makes the leap for the NFL as expected, there will be plenty of playing time available opposite Jenkins at OLB. Vasser is the veteran to beat, but players like Dawson, James DeLoach and T.J. Stripling will all get a long look. Also keep an eye on Josh Harvey-Clemons -- the nation’s top OLB prospect when he signed with Georgia in 2012 -- in the offseason to see whether he stays at safety or switches positions.
High-profile commits: ESPN lists UGA commits Naim Mustafaa (Alpharetta, Ga./Alpharetta), Leonard Floyd (Eastman, Ga./Hargrave Military) and Shaun McGee (Snellville, Ga./Brookwood) as defensive ends, but Mustafaa and Floyd could begin their careers at outside linebacker and McGee could play inside or outside linebacker.
Additional targets on the board: Matthew Thomas (Miami/Booker T. Washington), the nation’s No. 1 outside linebacker and No. 8 overall prospect, has set Feb. 2 as his official visit date at Georgia. The Bulldogs are considered an extreme longshot to land the Under Armour All-American, however.
2013 game plan: This could be a transitional year for the outside linebackers. Jones was the driving force behind Georgia’s pass rush and stabilized the position over the last two seasons. Jenkins has enormous potential, but asking him to pick up where Jones left off might be a bit much.
And 2014?: The OLBs could become a major force for Georgia this season. Jenkins will be a junior and the coaching staff will have had plenty of time to develop the young talent at the position. We’re circling Floyd for a breakout season at OLB in 2014.
What about 2015?: After signing a big group of OLBs in 2012, it is not a huge priority in the upcoming recruiting class. But the position becomes more important in 2014 and 2015. Jenkins would be a junior in 2014 and might be a candidate for NFL early entry. Meanwhile, Dawson and DeLoach would be entering their senior seasons in 2015.