Georgia Bulldogs: Mike Gilliard

With four players selected in Saturday's final rounds of the NFL draft, Georgia concluded the three-day event with eight players picked -- matching the program's record for most players picked in one year.

Last year the Bulldogs nearly tied the previous program record, eight in 2002, by having seven players selected. They reached the record this year when safety Bacarri Rambo went to the Washington Redskins in the sixth round -- although several players who hoped to hear their names called Saturday went undrafted, including nose guard Kwame Geathers, who opted to skip his senior season in college to enter the draft.

Georgia players halted a conspicuous trend Thursday when outside linebacker Jarvis Jones (17th overall to Pittsburgh) and inside linebacker Alec Ogletree (30th to St. Louis) were both picked in the first round. It had been eight years since Georgia had a defensive player picked in the first round, dating to when David Pollack and Thomas Davis were both first-rounders in 2005.

Defensive players dominated this draft class for Georgia, with seven of the eight picks having played under defensive coordinator Todd Grantham last season. Along with Jones, Ogletree and Rambo, nose guard John Jenkins (third round, New Orleans), safety Shawn Williams (third round, Cincinnati), cornerback Sanders Commings (fifth round, Arizona) and defensive end Cornelius Washington (sixth round, Chicago) were picked this year.

Receiver Tavarres King (fifth round, Denver) was Georgia's only offensive draft pick.

Shortly after the draft concluded, defensive end Abry Jones tweeted that he had signed as an undrafted free agent with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Meanwhile, several other former Georgia players became available to sign with teams as undrafted free agents. In the next few days, Geathers, receiver Marlon Brown, cornerback Branden Smith and linebackers Christian Robinson and Michael Gilliard could sign with teams via free agency.

Bulldogs look to wrap up Huskers' run

December, 19, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. -- Stats don’t lie -- and in this case, the stats say that Georgia has not defended the run well this season.

After surrendering 300-plus rushing yards in each of the last three games, Georgia (11-2) dropped to 77th nationally in run defense with an average of 177.8 yards per game. But while they can’t dispute that Georgia Southern, Georgia Tech and Alabama all topped the 300-yard mark, the Bulldogs insist that those numbers are somewhat deceptive.

Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech, after all, typically run the ball on nearly every down in their option offensive sets. And Alabama also boasts a particularly powerful running game with a veteran offensive line and two star tailbacks in Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon. So some Georgia defenders are quick to discount any notion that the Bulldogs are weak against the run.

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About Them Dawgs: Amarlo Herrera

December, 19, 2012
Amarlo HerreraKim Klement/US PresswireAmarlo Herrera was one of Georgia's top tacklers in 2012.
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 linebacker Amarlo Herrera.

No. 52 Amarlo Herrera
Sophomore/Inside linebacker
67 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 INT

Role in 2012: After playing considerably as a freshman, Herrera ranked among the Bulldogs’ best run-stoppers from his inside linebacker spot as a sophomore.

The good: A sure and physical tackler, Herrera played a key role throughout the season, but was particularly valuable early in the fall when starter Alec Ogletree was serving a four-game suspension. Herrera started four more times after Ogletree’s return and ranked fourth on the team in tackles -- including a season-high 11 against South Carolina.

The bad: Herrera was inconsistent at times in pass coverage -- although yes, he had the team's only interception return for a touchdown (against Florida Atlantic) -- which cleared the way for Christian Robinson to take the field on third downs and in other passing situations. The sophomore was fairly quiet down the stretch, totaling just six tackles in the final four games after ranking near the top of the team’s tackles list for most of the fall.

Crystal ball: With seniors Robinson and Mike Gilliard -- and most likely draft-eligible junior Ogletree -- departing after the season, Herrera immediately moves into a leadership role in a couple of weeks. He will be the only inside linebacker with significant experience and Georgia’s coaches will certainly count on him in the coming months to help a group of newcomers make the adjustment from high school to college football.

Mailbag: Florida-Georgia 

October, 25, 2012
Georgia and Florida will vie for first place in the SEC East race this Saturday in Jacksonville, Fla. With a win, the Gators will clinch the East and Georgia will fall to third place. A Bulldogs' victory would be the program’s biggest win in years. With the stakes this high, our readers have many questions they want answered. Here are a few of them:

[+] EnlargeChristian Robinson
Darrell Walker/Icon SMIChristian Robinson wasn't a big fan of Shawn Williams' comments on the defense Monday.
jeverett10: I just saw the article about how the defense needs to toughen up and the comments from Christian Robinson. What are the coaches and other players saying about "THE RANT" which, in my opinion, was gone about totally wrong in aspects? But I honestly can’t fault Shawn Williams for saying what he did.

Radi Nabulsi: jeverett10 is referring to Williams addressing reporters on Monday when he called the Bulldogs’ defense soft and stated that linebackers Alec Ogletree and Amarlo Herrera should never come off the field because they hit hard. Our own David Ching had a response from defensive coordinator Todd Grantham here and responses from many of Williams’ teammates here. I spoke to Garrison Smith and Herrera and they both believed that Williams’ comments would provide a spark to the defense. Robinson and Mike Gilliard took offense to hearing that Herrera should play more in their place, but Williams did get a chance to explain his comments to the defense at Tuesday’s practice.

Teammates respond to Williams' criticism

October, 23, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. -- Shawn Williams said his piece after Monday’s practice. On Tuesday, the Georgia safety’s teammates had their opportunity to respond to Williams calling the Bulldogs’ defense soft and saying linebacker Amarlo Herrera should play ahead of senior teammates Michael Gilliard and Christian Robinson.

“Just when you call me soft, I just want to go and show them that ain’t nothing sweet around here,” Gilliard said after Tuesday’s practice. “So the only thing I’m going to do is deliver, and starting today, that’s what I tried to do.”

[+] EnlargeShawn Williams
Scott Cunningham/Getty ImagesSenior safety Shawn Williams either lit a fire under his defensive teammates or created a rift.
Robinson voiced a similar sentiment on Tuesday afternoon, saying he was disappointed that his teammate publicly voiced a critical opinion. But Robinson -- who typically plays as a third-down linebacker -- said the Bulldogs can easily turn the situation into a positive.

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ATHENS, Ga. -- One of the key factors in Georgia’s defensive resurgence a year ago was the Bulldogs’ ability to pressure the passer -- and the opponent mistakes that came as a result.

That element was largely absent in the first half of this season for No. 11 Georgia (5-1, 3-1 SEC), and Bulldogs coach Mark Richt is looking for it to return down the stretch starting Saturday night at Kentucky (1-6, 0-4).

“We’re break even in turnover ratio, which isn’t awful, but we need to get more turnovers,” Richt said. “We need to protect the ball a little bit better. We’ve still got some things we need to clean up.”

Richt hit the nail on the head regarding that statistic, as Georgia has committed the exact same number of turnovers (10) as it has forced. That 50-50 turnover margin leaves the Bulldogs tied for 60th nationally and eighth in the SEC, a season after their turnover-happy defense helped them rank 26th nationally in that key statistic, behind only LSU and Alabama in the conference.

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The Georgia 10: Week 4 

September, 24, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. -- The big mover in this week’s Georgia Power Rankings is Bulldogs tailback Todd Gurley, who is establishing himself as the frontrunner for SEC Freshman of the Year honors.

After yet another dominant outing in Saturday’s 48-3 win against Vanderbilt, Gurley’s 406 rushing yards not only lead Georgia, but they also lead the entire SEC. Jarvis Jones and Aaron Murray sit comfortably atop the rankings in the 1-2 spots, but Gurley is on the rise. If he keeps this up, even the veteran stars might have to begin looking over their shoulders.

Here is the full list after four games (last week’s rank in parentheses):

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Photo Gallery: Georgia over Buffalo

September, 3, 2012
To go along with all the stories, blog posts and videos from Saturday’s game coverage of Georgia versus Buffalo, DawgNation has new photo gallery tool consisting of some of the top plays and performers in the Bulldog’s 45-23 victory. Click here to see images from all three of Todd Gurley’s touchdown runs, as well as the following:

Preseason preview: Linebackers 

July, 29, 2012

Editor’s note: With Georgia set to open preseason camp Thursday, DawgNation will break down each position group and the storylines to watch in August. After examining the offensive positions earlier this week, we shifted to the defensive line yesterday and today will examine the linebackers.

Jarvis Jones could probably be a millionaire by now. But instead of bolting for the NFL after a standout sophomore season where he led the SEC in sacks and tackles for loss, the Georgia outside linebacker decided his game still needs work before he turns pro.

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ESPN 300's Tim Kimbrough has UGA No. 1 

July, 10, 2012
Five-star linebacker Reuben Foster (Auburn, Ala./Auburn) might not be in attendance at Friday's Dawg Night in Athens, Ga., but the University of Georgia has a chance to take a big step in restocking its inside linebacker corps as ESPN 300 prospect Tim Kimbrough Jr. (Indianapolis/Warren Central) will be back in town.

As a junior, Kimbrough made 176 tackles, 27 tackles for loss 7.5 sacks, as well as two forced fumbles.

More than 20 programs have offered the linebacker, who first visited Athens in March. The Bulldogs offered Kimbrough (6-foot-1, 227 pounds) on the spot. With a return trip just days away, the No. 11 inside linebacker prospect in the country has UGA high on his list.

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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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Sixty-nine 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.

69. Brandon Burrows
Sophomore, Inside linebacker
6-foot-3, 240 pounds

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ATHENS, Ga. -- It's never too late to put up some quick notes and thoughts after a visit to a college campus. While you should expect more from my day in Athens with the Georgia Bulldogs in the next few days, here are some notes and thoughts from my visit that really stood out to me:
  • Georgia players and coaches have every reason to be jumping ship and freaking out about with the recent suspensions of defenders Bacarri Rambo, Sanders Commings, Branden Smith and Alec Ogletree. Three of those players call the secondary their home, while one, Ogletree, looks like he's ready to be a real star at linebacker in this league. But the first thing you notice when patrolling Georgia's facilities is that everyone is calm and collected about the matter. Sure, players and coaches are pretty frustrated with the situation, but they have moved on. They are working together to find the pieces to replace those guys come the start of the season. Inside linebacker Christian Robinson said that Ogletree's spot is still wide open because the Bulldogs have so many options, and it doesn't sound like the coaches will really name a starter anytime soon. Don't forget that Mike Gilliard, who really came on last year as the season progressed, and Amarlo Herrera will get reps with Robinson at middle linebacker. Robinson also said rising sophomore Ramik Wilson is getting good reps at middle linebacker.

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Ogletree poised to pack even more punch 

March, 18, 2012
To get ready for the start of Georgia’s spring football practice Tuesday, DawgNation will do a position breakdown each day and feature one player to watch at that position. Today we look at the linebackers and junior Alec Ogletree.

[+] EnlargeAlec Ogletree
Todd Kirkland/Icon SMIUGA didn't know what it would get when Alec Ogletree was pressed into service early last season at linebacker. The Bulldogs thankfully got more than they bargained for.
ATHENS, Ga. -- One of the top stories heading into Georgia’s spring practice last year was how Alec Ogletree would fare after shifting from safety to inside linebacker.

We got a taste last season, and the results were impressive. But how much better can he get with a full season at the position?

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Spring look: Linebacker

March, 18, 2012
To get ready for the start of Georgia’s spring football practice Tuesday, DawgNation will do a position breakdown each day. Today we will analyze the linebackers. On Monday we will look at the secondary.

2011 starters: OLB: Jarvis Jones, Jr. (70 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, 13.5 sacks); Cornelius Washington, Sr. (17 tackles, 6 TFL, 5 sacks); ILB: Mike Gilliard, Sr. (65 tackles, 7 TFL, 2 sacks); Alec Ogletree, Jr. (52 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 3 sacks)

Key losses: None

Reserves: OLB: Chase Vasser, Jr. (16 tackles, 3.5 TFL); Ray Drew, So. (8 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 0.5 sacks); T.J. Stripling, Jr. (2 tackles); Reuben Faloughi, Jr. (3 tackles, 1 TFL); ILB: Christian Robinson, Sr. (47 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks); Amarlo Herrera, So. (37 tackles, 3 TFL); Ramik Wilson, So. (4 tackles); Brandon Burrows, So. (missed season with injury)

New faces: The Bulldogs signed several outside linebackers, highlighted by heavily recruited Jordan Jenkins (Hamilton, Ga./Harris County) and Josh Harvey-Clemons (Valdosta, Ga./Lowndes), who could contribute immediately. None of the linebacker signees are on campus yet.

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Peach State: Top Tier Recruiting Ground?
California, Florida and Texas are largely considered the "Big Three" in college football recruiting. But national recruiting analyst Gerry Hamilton joins ESPN's Phil Murphy to explain why Georgia deserves to be in the top tier and has numbers to prove it.