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Monday, May 27, 2013
DawgNation roundtable: 2013 MVP

By David Ching

ATHENS, Ga. -- Now that we’ve reached the summer, we here at DawgNation are bringing back our weekly roundtable where our team writers and message board users discuss a topic related to Georgia football.

We asked everyone to gaze into their crystal balls and make a prediction for the 2013 football season. The question: Who will be Georgia’s MVP this fall and why?

strong>DawgNation’s Radi Nabulsi: My prediction for next season’s MVP will be Jordan Jenkins. Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham likes to tell recruits that one of his linebackers has led the SEC in sacks for each of the last three seasons. And he is correct when you look at just linebackers. I see Jenkins with a strong chance of continuing that trend next season. He was second on the team with five sacks last season and third in tackles for loss -- and that was with only six starts. Jenkins would have had six sacks, but one was credited to Jarvis Jones. With the offense returning 10 of 11 starters and the defense having to be rebuilt, a strong pass rush will be invaluable to this year's squad.

Aaron Murray
It's hard to overlook senior quarterback Aaron Murray in the team MVP discussion for the upcoming season.
DawgNation’s David Ching: I think Jenkins is a great choice. Grantham’s defense is definitely going to lean heavily on him to replace some of what Jarvis brought to the table. I’m going to make a safe pick and say Aaron Murray. Georgia’s offense is in position to be highly productive again this season and Murray’s passing skills and knowledge of the offense are big reasons why that is the case. We’re all uncertain as to how effective the defense will be, particularly early in the season. So if the Bulldogs still manage to make it past the likes of Clemson, South Carolina and LSU, my prediction is that Murray will have played clean football and guided the offense to some big point totals that gave the young defense some breathing room.

DawgNation's Kipp Adams: Todd Gurley emerged as one of the top running backs in the country last season and is a solid pick to be the main big-play threat for the Bulldogs in 2013, but there should be no question that this is Aaron Murray's team. Murray returns for his senior season already holding several school records, including most passing yards (3,893) and touchdown passes (36) in a single season along with career touchdown passes (95), and is the only quarterback in the SEC to throw for 3,000 yards or more in three straight seasons. What Murray brings to the table is big-play ability (Murray has been No. 1 or No. 2 on plays over 30 yards each of the last three seasons), the comfort level of a four-year starter, an offensive coordinator that completely trusts him and a mastery of the play-action fake that has been a mainstay of UGA quarterbacks under Mark Richt since David Greene. The Bulldogs have to be considered contenders to return to the SEC Championship game for a third straight year, and Murray will be the catalyst for how well they do if they get there.

We posed the question to our message board posters on “The Pound” and got a number of candidates in response. Among them: Jenkins, Murray, Gurley, safety Josh Harvey-Clemons and the entire defense.

Here are a couple of those picks and the poster’s explanation:

From AdamPowell83, who picked Gurley: “He is in a position to really prove himself on a nationwide scale this year. Obviously [Keith] Marshall will be a large factor in the offense as well, but Gurley is an NFL-ready runner right now. Depending on how the team performs as a whole we could look at a situation similar to when [Alabama’s] Mark Ingram won the Heisman, and Trent Richardson was a vital part of the offense as well.“

From Tancat64, who picked Harvey-Clemons: “I think Grantham views JHC as his special little project ‘release the Kraken,’ and I expect his supreme athleticism to drape the field.”

From Gehrigrules, who picked Jenkins: “The offense is a given, but we must have a strong pass rush to take some pressure off our young secondary, especially in the first month of the season. Jordan has been talking the talk and come September he's got to walk the walk!”

From JCGibs12887, who picked Murray: “Plain and simple. The Dawgs will go as far as his battle-tested right arm will allow them to go. His poise, maturity, and experience will lift the Red and Black to some crucial victories through a tough early season stretch as its talented, but green, defense establishes its footing.”