Georgia Bulldogs: Ben Jones

Continuing our run-up to Georgia's spring practice, this week we'll look back at the Bulldogs' five best recruiting classes of the last decade.

Today, we'll look at No. 5: The 2008 class that produced a couple of All-Americans and perhaps the greatest wide receiver in school history.

[+] EnlargeA.J. Green
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesA.J. Green had a stellar career at Georgia.
The stars: A.J. Green seemed destined for greatness even before he became a Bulldog -- and he lived up to that advance billing as soon as he arrived on campus. In three seasons, Green accumulated 2,619 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns (totals that rank third and second, respectively, in school history) before becoming a Pro Bowl receiver with the Cincinnati Bengals. Center Ben Jones and safety Bacarri Rambo also earned All-America honors from at least one group during their careers, and cornerback/return man Brandon Boykin won the Paul Hornung Award as the nation's most versatile player as a senior in 2011.

The contributors: Several players from this class made a major impact at Georgia. In addition to the previously mentioned players, offensive lineman Cordy Glenn, kicker Blair Walsh, receiver Tavarres King, cornerback Sanders Commings and defensive linemen DeAngelo Tyson and Cornelius Washington all performed well enough to become NFL draft picks. Walsh slumped as a senior, but had two of the best seasons by a UGA place-kicker during his sophomore and junior seasons. King didn't generate the attention that Green did, but his career totals of 2,602 receiving yards and 21 touchdown catches are fourth and third in school history.

The letdowns: About half of this class failed to contribute much of anything. Running back/linebacker Richard Samuel played a minor role for most of his career although he was the No. 35 overall prospect on the ESPN 150. For a variety of reasons, several members of the class either never enrolled at Georgia (Xavier Avery, Toby Jackson), transferred (A.J. Harmon, Marcus Dowtin, Dontavius Jackson, Makiri Pugh, Nick Williams) or struggled with health issues (Bryce Ros, Jonathan Owens) that prevented them from completing their careers in Athens.

The results: The talent in this class was impressive -- 11 players from the group made it onto an NFL roster -- but there were enough flameouts that we won't rank it higher on the list. Nonetheless, many of these players helped the Bulldogs win back-to-back SEC East titles as upperclassmen after a disappointing 6-7 result in 2010. With Green, who looks like a potential Hall of Famer at this point, headlining the group, Georgia's 2008 class definitely belongs on our list.

By the numbers: UGA classes since 2006 

January, 18, 2013
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ATHENS, Ga. -- Here’s a breakdown of Georgia’s last seven recruiting classes and what they managed to accomplish in college and beyond:

2006
ESPN top five classes: Florida, USC, Texas, Georgia, Notre Dame
Georgia’s ranking: 4

Recruiting flashback: Ben Jones

January, 2, 2013
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Editor’s note: As we approach national signing day and consider the future of Georgia’s football program, we’ll also look backward into the Bulldogs’ recruiting history. Over the next few weeks, we’ll talk with several former Georgia standouts about their experiences as recruits. We begin today with offensive lineman and 2011 team captain Ben Jones.

ATHENS, Ga. -- In the summer of 2007, Ben Jones was one of those prospects who became a rock star on the summer camp circuit.

After dominating some high-profile competition in blocking drills at a prospect camp at Georgia, Jones quickly made himself a household name among recruitniks. But luckily for Mark Richt’s Bulldogs, Jones had a burning desire to play football at his late father’s alma mater -- and he played quickly.

Jones was a starting center for the preseason-No. 1 Bulldogs only a few games into his freshman season in 2008 and essentially held onto the job for the rest of his career. He was an ESPN All-American and All-SEC selection last season as a senior before becoming a fourth-round NFL draft pick by the Houston Texans.

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About Them Dawgs: David Andrews

December, 22, 2012
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David AndrewsRadi Nabulsi/ESPN.comCenter David Andrews has had flashes of brilliance this season in filling the big shoes of former four-year starter Ben Jones as the anchor of Georgia's O-line.
Editor’s note: Each day between now and Georgia’s Capital One Bowl date with Nebraska, we will review the season for a key Bulldogs player and attempt to project what’s next. Today we’ll look at center David Andrews.

No. 61 David Andrews
Sophomore/Center


Role in 2012: Andrews took over for four-year starter Ben Jones and held his own at perhaps the most important position on the offensive line.

The good: The sophomore played here and there behind Jones as a true freshman in 2011, but he entered the 2012 season with essentially no experience at crunch time against SEC starters. But Andrews was one of the pleasant surprises for the Bulldogs, performing capably -- and exceptionally at times. The line was one of the team’s biggest question marks entering the season, but Andrews and company seem to be heading in the right direction.

The bad: Always reluctant to publicly give himself high marks in interviews, Andrews often focuses on what he should have done better. A bad snap here, a missed block there. He once remarked after missing a block against Florida Atlantic -- in which the Owls defender dragged Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray down by the face mask, drawing a 15-yard penalty -- that he “almost got Murray decapitated.” But it was largely a solid season for Georgia’s center.

Crystal ball: There were certainly times when he played like a first-year starter, but Andrews seems to have settled the questions as to whether he is big enough (6-foot-2, 295 pounds) to hold up against the monsters who reside at the center of SEC defensive lines. He seems to have solidified a spot on the line for the next two seasons, and if he continues to make steady progress Andrews might contend for all-conference honors before his time at Georgia is up.

UGA midseason report card: OL 

October, 11, 2012
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Editor’s note: Georgia’s football season is at the halfway mark, and the Bulldogs will take this weekend off before resuming SEC play next Saturday at Kentucky. We'll take a look at a different position group each day this week and evaluate how it performed in the first half of the season in our DawgNation midseason report cards.

ATHENS, Ga. -- The public opinion of Georgia’s offensive line was, for a time, much more positive than it is today, after the Bulldogs’ numerous breakdowns led directly to a 35-7 loss at South Carolina.

Will Friend’s rebuilt line had been surprisingly effective in the first five games, paving the way for Georgia to rank among the nation’s most explosive offenses.

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Making the Play: Tavarres King

August, 24, 2012
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Preseason previews: Offensive line 

July, 27, 2012
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Editor’s note: With Georgia set to open preseason camp on Aug. 2, DawgNation will break down each position group and the storylines to watch in August. We finish our look at the offense today with the offensive line after covering quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends earlier this week.


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Eighty 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.

80. David Andrews
[+] EnlargeGeorgia offensive lineman David Andrews
Radi Nabulsi/ESPN.comRising sophomore David Andrews seized the opportunity this spring to start at center, but in preparing for the 2012 season, others did, too.
Sophomore, Center
6-foot-2, 280 pounds

Fall forecast: David Andrews will be one of the leading offensive linemen to watch entering preseason camp and the early portion of the season. He ended the spring as Georgia’s starting center, but he must prove he can handle the job once the games start. If not, offensive line coach Will Friend will have to shift around his lineup, likely moving guard Chris Burnette to center and someone else into Burnette’s starting spot. The rebuilding line is unsettled enough as it is. Andrews holding his own in the middle would be a major plus.

Career highlight: After sitting out three of the first four games, Andrews played in nine of Georgia’s last 10 games last season, backing up then-senior Ben Jones.


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Roundtable: Dawg set for most NFL props? 

May, 23, 2012
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Seven players from Georgia’s 2012 team were taken last month in the NFL draft, tying for the second-highest number of players drafted, behind Alabama’s eight. Considering that at least five players from the Georgia defense could have left early, the Bulldogs might then have led the nation in players taken. The DawgNation Roundtable this week focuses on the players who were drafted, and their potential NFL success.

“Of the Georgia players drafted, who do you think will have the most successful NFL career?”

[+] EnlargeBen Jones
Dale Zanine/US PresswireFormer UGA center Ben Jones is versatile enough to help the Houston Texans at guard as well.
David Ching: The most obvious here is Cordy Glenn, whose size and versatility should keep him in the NFL for a long time. There is a reason so many NFL draft analysts projected him as a possible first-round pick with the potential to become an All-Pro guard. Even if he plays right tackle in the league, the Buffalo Bills have a mainstay on their offensive line for years to come.

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Texans pick Jones in fourth round

April, 28, 2012
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Ben Jones, one of Georgia’s most valuable offensive linemen of the Mark Richt era, went to the Houston Texans in the fourth round of the NFL draft.

The Texans picked Jones with the 99th overall pick Saturday in the draft -- which he discovered while watching with about 30 family members at his aunt's home in Bibb County, Ala.

"They love those undersized, scrappy zone centers," NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said of the Texans. "Ben Jones from Georgia occasionally gets overextended, but this is one of the scrappiest, smartest players I’ve seen on tape. He takes great angles, the kid understands the game and leverage. The more he has to move sometimes at the second level, the more his lack of athletic ability hurts him. But this kid gets the game of football."

Jones became the second center selected in the draft, following only Wisconsin’s Peter Konz, who went in the second round to the Atlanta Falcons.

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Watch Saturday's Rounds 4-7 live on WatchESPN.com.

Day 2 of the NFL draft has come and gone with only one Georgia player -- offensive lineman Cordy Glenn -- being picked.

Projected by many draft experts as a first-round pick, Glenn slipped to the second round, where the Buffalo Bills grabbed him with the 41st pick. Former Bulldogs Brandon Boykin and Orson Charles both had hopes of landing in the second or third rounds, but neither player made it off the board by the end of the night.

Rounds 4-7 will begin Saturday at noon ET on ESPN, with Boykin, Charles and several other ex-Bulldogs hoping to hear their names called on the draft’s final day.

Center Ben Jones, punter Drew Butler, defensive tackle DeAngelo Tyson and kicker Blair Walsh are also among the potential ex-Bulldog draft picks. Several more should have the opportunity to sign deals with NFL clubs as undrafted free agents.

No Bulldogs picked in first round

April, 26, 2012
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No Georgia players were selected in Thursday’s first round of the NFL draft.

Former Bulldogs offensive lineman Cordy Glenn was one of 26 players who attended the draft at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall, but is one of six remaining in the green room at the end of the night. Four offensive linemen -- USC's Matt Kalil, Stanford's David DeCastro, Iowa's Riley Reiff and Wisconsin's Kevin Zeitler -- were picked in the first round ahead of Glenn.

Most draft experts projected that Glenn would be a first-round pick, with ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. ranking him as the No. 14 overall prospect on his “Big Board.” Glenn is now the best available player remaining on Kiper’s board and is the second-best player left according to NFL Network expert Mike Mayock and ESPN's Todd McShay's rankings.

Glenn was clearly Georgia's best shot at becoming a first-round pick. Instead, for the fifth time in the last seven years, no Bulldog was selected in the first round.

Glenn -- along with former Georgia teammates Brandon Boykin, Orson Charles and Ben Jones -- will now wait to hear his name called Friday night in the second or third rounds.

Round 2 will begin at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. The draft will conclude with Rounds 4-7 starting at noon ET Saturday on ESPN.

UGA NFL draft primer

April, 26, 2012
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With an hour to go until the NFL draft begins, Georgia figures to have only one player hear his name called tonight during the first round.

Almost every top draft analyst has former Bulldogs offensive lineman Cordy Glenn going in the first round, typically somewhere in the mid to late first round.

However, Georgia figures to have several more players drafted between the second and seventh rounds on Friday and Saturday -- with cornerback Brandon Boykin, tight end Orson Charles and center Ben Jones figuring to be the next Bulldogs off the board.

(Read full post)

Insider ESPN's Todd McShay will have a final update on the first round Thursday morning in the hours leading up to the first overall pick, but here's a match-up of prospects to team needs up and down the board, which includes Georgia's Cordy Glenn going to Cleveland in the first round and Orson Charles heading just down the road to the Falcons in the third round.

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