Georgia Bulldogs: Brandon Boykin

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

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

Returning defenders ready for bigger roles 

December, 5, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. -- When Georgia’s seniors lingered on the field to accept the Governor’s Cup from Gov. Nathan Deal after beating Georgia Tech, reality began to sink in for Amarlo Herrera.

[+] EnlargeGarrison Smith, Jeff Driskel
Sam Greenwood/Getty ImagesJunior DE Garrison Smith prefers to let his play do the talking, and that will be expected much more next season.
Looking around the half-empty dressing room, the sophomore linebacker realized how many of his veteran defensive teammates won’t be around the next time the Bulldogs take the field at Sanford Stadium.

“We saw that when they weren’t in the locker room, when they were out on the field,” Herrera said about the moments after the 42-10 win last month.

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ATH Terry to Richt: 'Solid' to Georgia 

December, 2, 2012
Next Friday, ESPN 150 athlete Tramel Terry (Goose Creek, S.C./Goose Creek) will celebrate his decision to enroll early at the University of Georgia. Although Terry was also considering Clemson after taking an official visit there in October, he did not intend on it being publicized as an announcement ceremony.

“Friday is a signing day celebration, it was never a press conference,” Terry said. “I am just excited to be a Georgia Bulldog. I am not sure why anyone ever put it out there like that. My guidance counselor just wanted us to have something together for all of us going to college because I am enrolling early.”

[+] EnlargeTramel Terry
Miller Safrit/ESPN.comTramel Terry on Saturday reaffirmed his plans to enroll early at Georgia and play for the Bulldogs.
Terry originally committed to Georgia last year at Dawg Night, only to reopen his recruitment a few months later. He would recommit to Georgia in March. During the past few weeks, the Tigers made a push for his services. Out of respect for Georgia, Terry chose to keep his thoughts to himself.

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DBs should get boost from Langley 

November, 20, 2012
With Tuesday’s addition of ESPN 300 athlete Brendan Langley (Marietta, Ga./Kell) to the commitment list, Georgia has secured its top target at cornerback for the 2013 class. It has been a battle since the spring for the 6-foot-1, 186-pound prospect, with programs like Alabama, South Carolina and Tennessee all fighting for Langley. Getting Langley was a priority for the Bulldogs’ coaching staff, who heavily pursued the four-star recruit even after he committed to the Gamecocks.

Brendan Langley
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comUGA commit Brendan Langley can help replace several departing defensive backs.
With his size and athletic ability, Langley should be able to come in and help Georgia in several ways. He is a playmaker with the ball in his hands, and has made just as big of an impact on offense at Kell this season as he has on defense. That could continue in Athens.

Langley was sold early on being utilized in a similar manner to former Georgia standout Brandon Boykin, and that would be a smooth transition for the two-way standout. With only three scholarship cornerbacks returning and a void in the return game, Langley has a chance to contribute next fall.

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Georgia's defense has to toughen up

October, 23, 2012
To say that there’s some frustration on Georgia’s defense is quite the understatement.

Senior safety Shawn Williams made that abundantly clear while speaking with the media Monday night when he called the play of the defense “soft.”

[+] EnlargeShawn Williams
AP Photo/Don KellySafety Shawn Williams had some strong words for his defensive teammates.
“We’re playing too soft as a defense,” Williams said. “That goes for the D-line, linebackers, corners, safeties, everybody. We’re just not playing with the same attitude we were last year. I don’t know what it is.”

In Georgia's 29-24 win over Kentucky on Saturday, the Bulldogs surrendered 206 yards rushing yards and allowed two scoring drives of 75 yards or more. However, Georgia surrendered just 329 total yards of offense, the second-lowest total by an offense this season against Georgia.

Senior linebacker Christian Robinson told on Tuesday that he agreed Georgia’s defense has to be more physical, but he also said the defense has to stay together, not take shots.

“I’m sticking to what I’ve been taught since I’ve been growing up -- everyone should be quick to listen and slow to speak and slow to anger,” Robinson said. “At this point, we’re a team and we have to stick together, and as a team, I’m not going to call anybody out. We’re just going to try and fix the issues that we have.

“Yes, we need to be more physical -- that’s anytime you play any opponent. We always have room to improve.”

Williams also suggested on Monday that certain players should see the field more than others.

“Personally, if I was the coaches, I can’t tell them what to do, but I’d have Amarlo Herrera in the game more,” Williams said. “I wouldn’t bring him out. ... I want to see Amarlo and [Alec] Ogletree in the game at linebacker; I don’t want to see anybody else at linebacker. I feel like they’re two guys that are going to go out and give you all they got, no matter if they mess up or do right. I feel like they’re going to get to the ball and tackle. That’s what we need.”

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Safety Williams: Georgia defense 'soft'

October, 22, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. -- Shawn Williams didn’t mince words when he met with reporters after Georgia’s Monday evening practice. The senior safety thinks his fellow defensive players aren’t playing with any toughness -- and he’s had enough of it.

[+] EnlargeShawn Williams
Darrell Walker/Icon SMI Shawn Williams had some pointed words for his defensive teammates after Monday's practice.
“I’m trying to see if I have to just take somebody’s helmet off and slap them and say, ‘What’s going on?’ We’re not playing with any emotion right now, period,” Williams said.

Frustrated by yet another flat performance in the Bulldogs’ 29-24 win against Kentucky last Saturday, Williams said Georgia’s defense is “soft” after ranking among the nation’s top units a season ago.

The Bulldogs lost only two starters from that group, cornerback Brandon Boykin and defensive end DeAngelo Tyson, so this season’s defense carried sky-high expectations into the fall. But the group that started the season without four suspended starters -- All-America safety Bacarri Rambo, cornerback Sanders Commings and linebackers Alec Ogletree and Chase Vasser -- struggled from the outset and Williams thinks their collective effort level has actually decreased.

He used the opening drive against a Kentucky as an example, when the Wildcats immediately drove 84 yards for a touchdown after going 20 games without a first-quarter offensive touchdown.

“In the Kentucky game after the first series, I told them we played soft. They got the ball at the 20 and ran 80 yards right up the middle and I told them when I came on the sideline, I said, ‘Y’all are playing soft as … heck.’ ”

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Game breakdown: Georgia at Missouri 

September, 7, 2012
7:45 p.m. ET Saturday
Faurot Field/Memorial Stadium, Columbia, Mo.

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UGA opens at No. 6 in AP poll 

August, 18, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. -- Only twice in Mark Richt’s previous 11 seasons at Georgia have his Bulldogs carried a higher preseason ranking into the season than this year’s club, which came in at No. 6 in the Associated Press preseason poll that was released Saturday.

Keep in mind, Richt has won two SEC championships and four SEC East titles in his UGA tenure, so he has done his share of winning as a Bulldog. And only the preseason No. 1 team in 2008 and the 2004 club that started at No. 3 carried higher preseason expectations than this team that opens the season Sept. 1 against Buffalo.

And Richt realizes such a status could be beneficial if the Bulldogs keep themselves in the BCS conversation throughout the season.

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Notebook: Murray's accuracy improves 

August, 11, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. -- Mike Bobo has established an exact completion percentage that he wants redshirt junior quarterback Aaron Murray to hit this fall. If Murray’s progress from August practices carries over into the season, it shouldn’t be too difficult.

Bobo, Georgia’s offensive coordinator, credited Murray’s improved footwork for his substantially improved accuracy during preseason camp.

“His accuracy has improved I think as of yesterday almost 14 percent compared to what it was last camp,” Bobo said after Saturday morning’s special teams practice. “That’s a credit to his footwork and a credit to a lot of other things. But the No. 1 thing you look at with accuracy is the footwork and he’s done a nice job.”

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Ex-Bulldog Boykin could start in Philly 

August, 3, 2012
Philadelphia Eagles special teams coach Bobby April announced yesterday that Brandon Boykin -- a rookie cornerback from Georgia -- is in line to start as the team’s kickoff returner.

Boykin -- last season’s Paul Hornung Award winner, as the most versatile player in college football -- slipped into the fourth round of the NFL draft after he broke his leg covering a kick in the Senior Bowl, which prevented him from participating in the NFL combine and other pre-draft workouts.

But he told me recently that Philadelphia was a perfect landing spot because, after participating in two minicamps, he realized he would have the opportunity to contribute immediately as a kick returner and nickelback.

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Preseason previews: Special teams 

August, 1, 2012

Editor’s note: With Georgia set to open preseason camp on Thursday, DawgNation will break down each position group and the storylines to watch in August. After examining Georgia’s offensive and defensive position groups, we complete the series today with the Bulldogs’ special teams units.

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Ranking the SEC's safeties

July, 17, 2012
Now that we've ranked the SEC's secondaries, it's time to take a look at the league's top cornerbacks.

Past rankings:

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Sixty-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.

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DN Roundtable: What did spring bring? 

June, 20, 2012
Jay RomeRadi Nabulsi/ESPN.comJay Rome showed flashes of brilliance during spring practice and the G-Day game, hinting that 2012 could be a standout season for the tight end.

The summer workouts are under way at the University of Georgia practice fields and in the new weight room. Anyone traveling down Lumpkin Street in Athens, Ga., can often catch sight of the Bulldogs going through passing drills and working on their conditioning in the heat of the day. Come August, positions will be up for grabs, and those coveted spots are often won in the offseason. With that in mind we want to look back at spring to see who has a leg up going into fall. So this week’s DawgNation Roundtable includes two questions:

“Which player had the best spring?”

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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.