Georgia Bulldogs: Kris Durham

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

Today, we'll look at No. 3: The 2006 class that will forever carry a “what-if” label because of massive potential that was somewhat unfulfilled despite posting two top-10 rankings.

[+] EnlargeMatthew Stafford
Doug Benc/Getty ImagesMatthew Stafford led UGA to a No. 2 final ranking after the 2007 season.
The stars: Five-star quarterback and future No. 1 overall NFL draft pick Matthew Stafford was the headliner, but there were many players in this class who had outstanding careers in Athens. Tailback Knowshon Moreno was one of the most exciting players of the Mark Richt era and the breakout performer on a team that finished the 2007 season with a No. 2 national ranking. Defensive lineman Geno Atkins, safety Reshad Jones, linebacker Akeem Dent and cornerback Asher Allen also went on to have productive college and pro careers.

The contributors: There were many valuable role players in this class: names like receiver Kris Durham, fullback Shaun Chapas, cornerback and return man Prince Miller, linebacker Darryl Gamble, offensive linemen Josh and Chris Davis and defensive end Demarcus Dobbs. Several members of that group made it onto NFL rosters at some point after their time in Athens. Durham was the team's most valuable receiver early in the 2010 season, while A.J. Green served a four-game suspension, and finished that season with 659 receiving yards that helped him pop up on NFL radars after his first several seasons on campus were filled with injuries.

The letdowns: Some of the biggest names in the class (linebackers Darius Dewberry and Akeem Hebron, defensive end Brandon Wood, tight end Naderris Ward) failed to become major contributors in college. Ward, Tony Wilson, Michael Lemon and John Miller all left UGA before their careers were over. Safety Quintin Banks was set back by a series of injuries, derailing what could have been a solid career. And Kiante Tripp never seemed to settle into a position, perhaps wasting a career that could have been more productive had he not shuttled from location to location.

The results: With Stafford and Moreno leading the way, Georgia ranked among the top BCS contenders at the end of the 2007 season – one that ended with the Bulldogs hammering Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl. Georgia opened the next season as the nation's No. 1 team, although injuries and a disappointing defense helped the Bulldogs finish with a disappointing three losses. Stafford, Moreno and Allen left for the draft after that season, and Jones left after the next. The group was full of high-end talent and the early results were mostly positive, but Florida's dominance (BCS titles in 2006 and 2008, an SEC East title in 2009) overshadows anything that this Georgia class accomplished in college.

DawgNation Mailbag 

March, 8, 2013
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ATHENS, Ga. -- Spring practice has started for the Georgia Bulldogs, and all eyes are turning to the defense to see how that unit is going to shape up after losing so many starters from last year. Questions abound on what type of squad Georgia will field this fall and where the Bulldogs stand on the recruiting trail. We have taken some of those questions and added them to the weekly DawgNation Mailbag.

1thatguy: Who will be the surprise player of the season next year? Last year nobody at all talked about Todd Gurley before the season but he ended up being amazing. What players do you think have the potential to impress like that next year and have been under the radar?

Radi Nabulsi: That depends on what you mean by “under the radar.” Can a four-star recruit be considered a sleeper? Last fall we wrote extensively about Gurley and while few, if any, predicted he would lead all running backs in the SEC in total yards, it should not have been surprising that he started, considering how Gurley’s coaches and teammates raved about him. So let’s limit the scope to new signees, not in the ESPN 300, who could start next year. Those signees in the ESPN 300 are expected to contribute early so they would not really be a surprise.

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

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Recruiting flashback: Kris Durham 

January, 7, 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. During the next few weeks, we’ll talk with several former Georgia standouts about their experiences as recruits. Today we feature receiver Kris Durham, who played for the Bulldogs between 2006 and 2010.

ATHENS, Ga. -- Injuries prevented Kris Durham from becoming the star he hoped to be when he signed with Georgia in 2006, but he doesn’t seem to feel much regret about his time as a Bulldog.

His 659 receiving yards in 2010 as a senior helped him get picked in the NFL draft and he also met close friends Matthew Stafford, Shaun Chapas and Fred Munzenmaier, with whom he roomed in college before playing alongside Stafford and Chapas with the Detroit Lions this season.

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Notebook: Bennett proving he belongs

September, 18, 2012
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ATHENS, Ga. -- Michael Bennett knows there is something that separates him from other players at his position. He jokes about it all the time.

The Georgia sophomore realizes that as a Caucasian wide receiver at a big-time college football program, he is like a living, breathing four-leaf clover -- extremely rare -- but he has also been a good-luck charm for the Bulldogs thus far.

Bennett leads the Bulldogs with 265 receiving yards and, among the SEC’s top 15 players in receiving yards per game -- he ranks fifth with 88.3 -- he is the only one who is not African-American.

“I’ve proved myself throughout my whole life, being a white guy playing a black man’s position. It’s just the nature of how it is,” Bennett said with a grin. “It’s not racist or anything, it’s just the way it is. I feel like I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder in high school and then coming here. No one’s really respected me. I remember going in 1-on-1s and no one wanted to go against me because they didn’t want to get burned by a white guy.”

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Notebook: Murray errant on deep balls 

September, 3, 2012
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ATHENS, Ga. -- If there was a shortcoming in Aaron Murray’s season-opening performance, it’s that he didn’t take advantage of opportunities that could have made it spectacular.

[+] EnlargeAaron Murray
Kevin Liles/US PresswireAaron Murray's inconsistency on the deep ball from last season carried over into Saturday's season-opening win over Buffalo.
Georgia’s junior quarterback finished the 45-23 victory against Buffalo with a solid passing line -- 15-for-26, 258 yards, three touchdowns and not even a near-interception -- but his issues connecting on deep passes carried over from last season.

He missed open receivers Tavarres King and Rantavious Wooten on the Bulldogs’ first two possessions and later overthrew Chris Conley on another long pass and led Michael Bennett too far out of bounds on a deep ball from Buffalo’s 36-yard line.

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Video: Former UGA WR Kris Durham 

July, 25, 2012
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Former Georgia wide receiver Kris Durham spoke with Radi Nabulsi of DawgNation at the annual Countdown to Kickoff celebration in Athens, Ga. Don't miss Durham's prediction on the upcoming season.

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