Around the Hedges in 80 Days: M. Gilliard 

July, 10, 2012
Fifty-three 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.

[+] EnlargeMike Gilliard
Scott Cunningham/Getty ImagesMike Gilliard saw action against South Carolina (above), then started against Coastal Carolina. He was third on the team in tackles, with 65.

53. Mike Gilliard
Senior, Linebacker
6-foot-2, 220 pounds

Fall forecast: Gilliard was a backup inside linebacker when the 2011 season started, but both of Georgia’s starters -- Alec Ogletree and Christian Robinson -- suffered foot injuries by the end of Game 2, creating an opportunity for Gilliard to see regular playing time. He took advantage of the chance, providing steady play while Ogletree and Robinson were out and starting 11 consecutive games.

Gilliard completed the spring as one of Georgia’s starters, ahead of sophomore Amarlo Herrera, and figures to once again play a key role in the middle although Herrera will surely push for more playing time after a strong freshman season.

Career highlight: Gilliard was making only his fourth career start when he gave one of Georgia’s top individual performances of the season against Tennessee. He recorded 12 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss -- including a sack -- forced a fumble and broke up a pass in the win against the Volunteers, earning SEC Defensive Player of the Week and College Football Performance Awards National Linebacker of the Week honors.

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