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Friday, March 22, 2013
DawgNation Mailbag: Full contact edition

By Radi Nabulsi

ATHENS, Ga. -- Week two of Spring camp had the Georgia Bulldogs hitting the practice field in full pads while preparing for a scrimmage on Saturday.  Position battles and projected performances dominated the questions we received for this edition of the DawgNation Mailbag.

Adam (Charlotte): What is your view on the post-Aaron Murray quarterback position battle? Brice Ramsey comes out very highly recruited but played in a pure running team and didn't really showcase his talents. Could the big bad SEC be too much for him?

Brice Ramsey
Georgia signed QB Brice Ramsey in the Class of 2013 with the idea of redshirting him this fall with an eye on the 2014 season.
Radi Nabulsi: Next year this will be Hutson Mason’s team barring any injury. The real question will be who will be his backup and therefore likely to lead the team in 2015. So far the three candidates are Ramsey, Faton Bauta and Christian LeMay.

I think the LeMay experiment is done. When the coaches brought in Parker Welch ahead of LeMay last year during blowout games, the writing was on the wall. Ramsey was sold on the idea of redshirting and then possible starting as a redshirt freshman like Murray did. Bauta is a strong athlete who has impressed, but I think Ramsey wins the battle and will do well against SEC competition.

Also keep your eye on the recruitment of Deshaun Watson (Gainesville, Ga./Gainesville). He is the most successful quarterback in Georgia prep history already and has yet to play his senior year. Watson is committed to Clemson, but Mike Bobo is working hard to flip him to Georgia.

James (Atlanta): Who have been the most impressive guys so far on defense who were not starters last year?

RN: We are a third of the way through spring camp, so there hasn’t been much time to impress, but the coaches have mentioned a few players are stepping up so far. As mentioned last week, James DeLoach is having a big spring at the sam linebacker spot. On Tuesday, new defensive line coach Chris Wilson and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham praised Mike Thornton and Sterling Bailey. A couple offensive linemen have told me in the past that Thornton is a nightmare to block, because he gets so low and has great leverage. Bailey appears healthy for the first time in recent memory, so the battle on the line is going to be really interesting. Tuesday was the first time the players were actually in full pads, so we will know more after Saturday’s scrimmage.

Russ (Athens): How is Jonathan Rumph looking? Is he an immediate contributor?

RN: Absolutely. Granted we don’t get to watch a lot of practice, but from what I have seen and from what I have been told, the 6-foot-5 junior college transfer wide receiver is doing well. It will take a while to adjust to the Georgia offensive system, and there have been moments where Rumph has been hesitant. But with the spring and summer pass-skeleton drills under his belt, I expect Rumph to push hard for a starting position in the fall.

Dave (Athens): What are the top five performances you saw last year in Georgia?

RN: I am going to assume you mean at the prep level. That is a great idea for a feature, since we covered so many players last year in our From the Road series, so I might do that later. As for last year, the most dominating performances I saw in person were from Watson, defensive tackle Elisha Shaw (Tucker, Ga./Tucker), linebacker Reggie Carter (Snellville, Ga./South Gwinnett), running back Tyren Jones (Marietta, Ga./Walton) and defensive tackle Montravius Adams (Vienna, Ga./Dooly County).

I didn’t see all of the top players in the state, since there are hundreds of FBS level prospects in Georgia. Also, some top players I saw were injured or double-teamed or simply avoided. No one threw toward Brendan Langley or Tray Matthews when I was in attendance. So this is by no means a list of top players -- just top performances.

Honorable mention goes to sophomores Arden Key (Lithonia, Ga./MLK) and Mitch Hyatt (Suwanee, Ga./North Gwinnett).

Trae (Jacksonville): What are your predictions on stats for Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall this year? I'll take Gurley to have 1,275 yards and 15 touchdowns and Marshall to have 950 yards and 8 touchdowns. Thoughts?

RN: Well, last year Gurley had 1385 yards to lead SEC running backs (quarterback Johnny Manziel actually had more), and Marshall chipped in 759 yards. Gurley had 17 touchdowns and Marshal had eight. The depth on the offensive line -- Georgia returns all five starters -- would lead us to believe that both backs should see increased production. But I think Murray will throw a lot, if the defense doesn’t reload and the Bulldogs find themselves in a hole in early season games. The schedule is harder than last year as well. I will say both break the 1,000-yard mark, but just barely, and account for a combined 20 touchdowns.

Joey (Charlotte, NC): Who are the four projected starting linebackers for next season?

RN: We can write down Jordan Jenkins at one outside linebacker spot and Amarlo Herrera at the inside mo linebacker spot.

The other inside linebacker spot, the mike, for now belongs to Ramik Wilson, who also had a big spring camp last year. Whether he holds onto it remains to be seen. I think Carter might really push Wilson for the job, but Wilson will hold onto it due to experience.

As for who will start opposite Jenkins, James DeLoach is at the sam linebacker spot right now, but Chase Vasser likely will be the starter when he returns from his torn labrum injury.