- David Ching, ESPN Staff Writer
Seventy-six days remain until Georgia kicks off its season opener against Buffalo on Sept. 1. In the days counting down to the opener, DawgNation will profile, with our “Around the Hedges in 80 Days” series, a Bulldogs player we expect to make an impact. We will review each player’s career thus far and project his long-term potential as we progress through our alphabetical list, from center David Andrews to receiver Rantavious Wooten.
76. Faton Bauta
6-foot-3, 222 pounds
Fall forecast: Although he enrolled at Georgia in January and participated in the offseason conditioning program and part of spring practice, Bauta appears to be a candidate to redshirt this fall. First of all, Mark Richt’s staff almost never plays quarterbacks as true freshmen -- teammate Hutson Mason, who expects to redshirt this fall, is a notable exception -- understandably believing that a redshirt season is particularly valuable for quarterbacks. Big and burly, Bauta has a different skill set than his fellow Georgia quarterbacks, but the coaching staff listed him as the fifth-string quarterback on the post-spring depth chart.
Possible career impact: Bauta’s physical running style -- he often drew comparisons to Tim Tebow as a recruit -- intrigues those who believe he could serve as a change-of-pace alternative to starter Aaron Murray or any of Georgia’s other pro-style quarterbacks on the roster. Those physical tools had many recruiting analysts project Bauta at other positions such as safety, but on national signing day he bristled at the notion of playing another position. He said he came to Georgia to become a well-rounded quarterback so he could one day play the position in the NFL.
Murray, a redshirt junior, is clearly entrenched as the starter this fall, but he might be a candidate to enter the 2013 NFL draft if he has a successful fall. Should Murray leave, Bauta will be part of a quarterback free-for-all next spring, joining Mason, Christian LeMay and most likely Brice Ramsey, a highly touted 2013 quarterback commitment, in competing for the starting job.
1dGreg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough