Georgia Bulldogs: DeAngelo Tyson

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.
ATHENS, Ga. -- Garrison Smith is prepared for the inevitable and knows what he has to do against Georgia Tech on Saturday -- something Florida's defenders struggled to accomplish in last Saturday's upset loss against a similar Georgia Southern offense.

[+] EnlargeGarrison Smith
Mark LoMoglio/Icon SMIGarrison Smith and Georgia's defensive line will have to be disciplined taking on Georgia Tech's option offense.
“You've just got to use your hands and keep [the offensive linemen] off your legs. That's what you've got to do,” the Georgia defensive lineman said. “You're going to get cut [blocked]. That's going to happen. But you've just got to keep playing.”

Smith's first substantial playing time actually came as the result of a questionable cut block that knocked DeAngelo Tyson out of Georgia's 2011 win over the Yellow Jackets. Smith, then a green sophomore, replaced Tyson in the lineup and recorded seven tackles and 1.5 tackles for a loss, earning SEC Co-Defensive Lineman of the Week honors in the process.

Defensive players don't like dealing with triple-option offenses like Georgia Tech (7-4) and Georgia Southern run, and specifically don't like having to keep their eyes out for pesky offensive linemen who consistently dive at their knees.

“It's just like being out on the streets: you've got to keep your head on a swivel and watch your surroundings,” Smith said. “Protect yourself at all times.”

Otherwise you could suffer Tyson's fate. Or even if you manage to protect yourself, you might fail to fill the proper gap and be the goat when the Yellow Jackets break a long run.

That was the issue for Florida's defense last weekend against Georgia Southern, when the Eagles ran 54 times for 429 yards and upset the Gators 26-20.

Afterward, Gators coach Will Muschamp admitted that the challenges presented in defending that scheme leveled the playing field for the FCS Eagles.

“That's why a lot of these schools run it -- because it takes talent out of the equation,” Muschamp told reporters this week. “A lot of talented guys don't like having somebody at their knees every snap, either.”

Georgia (7-4) has improved in each successive game against Georgia Tech's option since Todd Grantham became defensive coordinator in 2010. That first year, the Yellow Jackets ran 77 times for 411 yards and Georgia barely held on for a 42-34 win. The Bulldogs have won easily in each of the last two seasons, with Tech running 53 times for 243 yards in a 31-17 loss in 2011 and 67 times for 302 yards in last season's 42-10 defeat where their only touchdown drive came against reserves in the fourth quarter.

The problem for Georgia, however, is that only three regulars -- Smith, cornerback Damian Swann and outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins -- have played much against the Yellow Jackets' unique attack. It's entirely different from what Georgia's players and coaches see the rest of the season, so that real-time experience is valuable for all parties.

[+] EnlargeVad Lee
Mark Dolejs/USA TODAY SportsVad Lee and Georgia Tech's offense are averaging more than 300 yards rushing per game this season.
“I think the more you see anything, the better you feel about it from that standpoint,” Grantham said. “But they're going to mix up what they do. Every year they try to change up and tweak it.

“But the bottom line, it gets down to players making plays, players executing, being where they need to be, playing with good pad level, playing physical and doing all the things you need to do to stop that kind of offense. Because it's really a team-oriented defense to play against, meaning you've got to take care of your assignment and trust someone's going to be somewhere else because if you don't do that, then you create a seam and that's when they get the explosive plays.”

Tech has largely been successful in that regard. As per usual under Coach Paul Johnson, the Yellow Jackets rank among the national leaders in rushing offense (fourth at 316.1 yards per game). They have scored 16 touchdowns -- 11 rushing, five passing -- that covered at least 20 yards and rushed for 200-plus yards in every game but one. In fact, they've rushed for more than 250 in all but their losses to Virginia Tech (129 yards) and BYU (237).

As long as Georgia's first-time starting quarterback Hutson Mason and his cohorts keep Georgia's high-scoring offense on track, the Bulldogs don't need to hold Tech to fewer than 200 rushing yards to win. If the Bulldogs keep grinding against Tech's deliberate attack and consistently arrive where they're supposed to be to make stops, they should survive.

“Everybody's got to do their job,” said Georgia linebacker Ramik Wilson, the SEC's leading tackler with 119 stops. “Me and Amarlo [Herrera], the inside-box guys, we've got to stop the dive. And we've got two outside linebackers that have got to stop the quarterback. And we've just got to make the plays. If we don't make the plays, we get gashed, so we've got to do our job and everything should be all right.”

That's easier said than done, however, as Muschamp can attest.

“You've got to have your offense moving and scoring because as long as [Tech's offense is] on track and on schedule, it's pretty effective,” Grantham said. “It's when there's a separation and they're off track, whether it be down-and-distance or score, then it becomes more difficult. So that's kind of a team thing right there. Fortunately we've been able to do that the last couple years. But it's a challenge to play it.”

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

About Them Dawgs: Garrison Smith

December, 20, 2012
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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 defensive end Garrison Smith.

No. 56 Garrison Smith
Junior/Defensive end
55 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack

Role in 2012: Smith joined the starting lineup when an injury knocked Abry Jones from the lineup for the rest of the regular season and the junior wound up leading the defensive linemen in tackles.

The good: Smith built off a strong effort last season against Georgia Tech, when he came off the bench after DeAngelo Tyson was injured and played well in his first extensive playing time, by developing into one of Georgia’s top defensive linemen in 2012. Jones played a similar role last season, rarely racking up huge tackle or sack totals, but holding the point so teammates could make plays, which is essential to the defense’s success.

The bad: It would be interesting to see what kind of numbers Smith could have accumulated in a full season as a starter. The situation is understandable -- Georgia had experienced seniors across the board on the defensive line, and Jones was a preseason All-SEC pick -- but Smith fared well as both a reserve and in his seven starts.

Crystal ball: Smith recently said that he plans to return for his senior season, so he should be one of the known quantities within a group that must replace a ton of experience. If he and fellow junior Kwame Geathers return next season, the Bulldogs will be in great shape up front. But either way, Smith will probably be on some preseason all-conference lists and projects as a strong performer in 2013.

Safety Williams: Georgia defense 'soft'

October, 22, 2012
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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.’ ”

(Read full post)

DeAngelo Tyson became the seventh Georgia player to be picked in the NFL draft Saturday when the Baltimore Ravens selected him in the seventh round, 236th overall.

Tyson played defensive tackle early in his career when Georgia ran a 4-3 base defense, then occupied the nose guard spot out of necessity when the Bulldogs shifted to a 3-4 after defensive coordinator Todd Grantham joined the coaching staff in 2010. Tyson played his third position in three years in 2011 when he moved to defensive end, showing the ability to contribute in a variety of roles.

He started 11 games last fall, missing the Coastal Carolina game and the season-ending games against LSU and Michigan State after suffering an ankle injury early in the regular-season finale against Georgia Tech. He finished the season with 20 tackles, 3.5 for a loss, and was fourth on the team with 11 quarterback pressures.

Tyson is the seventh Georgia player selected and fifth on Saturday. Offensive lineman Cordy Glenn went in Friday’s second round to Buffalo, making him the only ex-Bulldog picked on the draft’s first two days. Center Ben Jones (fourth round to Houston), tight end Orson Charles (fourth round to Cincinnati), cornerback Brandon Boykin (fourth round to Philadelphia) and offensive lineman Justin Anderston (seventh round to Indianapolis) were also picked Saturday.

Georgia’s program record for players selected in one draft is eight, set in 2002.
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.

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)

Scouts Inc.'s NFL draft cheat sheets

April, 25, 2012
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Scouts Inc. breaks down the 2012 class in each position group, including the top prospects in each of the position-specific categories Scouts uses in evaluations, along with a listing of all draft-ready prospects, four-year combine averages, picks in Rounds 1-2, and three-year market trends for each position.

Offense
Quarterback
Running back
Wide receiver
Tight end
Offensive lineman

Defense
Defensive lineman
Linebacker
Defensive back
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 defensive line and Garrison Smith.

ATHENS, Ga. -- Garrison Smith was a mostly unknown reserve before he introduced himself to Georgia’s fan base last fall with a standout performance against one of the Bulldogs’ biggest rivals.

Senior defensive end DeAngelo Tyson left with a season-ending ankle injury two plays into Georgia’s showdown with Georgia Tech, opening the door for Smith, a sophomore, to play a key role for the first time in his career.

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Tyson hopes he turned NFL heads 

March, 6, 2012
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ATHENS, Ga. -- DeAngelo Tyson didn’t get a chance to shine at the NFL scouting combine, so he knew Monday’s on-campus pro day workouts were his last chance for such a large number of league personnel reps to see what he can do.

Tyson seemed to make the most of the opportunity, turning in one of the most impressive performances among the 12 former Bulldogs who participated in the event.

“I did what my goal was set to be,” Tyson said. “I just accomplished a lot. It’s my dream to play football and I think I’m making a big step toward doing that.”

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Quick pro day observations

March, 5, 2012
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Just got home from watching the extremely windy UGA pro day workouts. Will work up a couple stories in a bit, but here are a few quick thoughts.

* In all, there were 46 scouts in attendance, representing 30 different NFL teams. The Cowboys and Bears were the only teams who were not represented.

* Brandon Boykin said he is still working back toward 100 percent after breaking a bone in his leg while covering a punt at the Senior Bowl. He said he's at about 85 percent and will hold an individual pro day workout on campus in early April. He did participate in the bench press and completed 16 reps, which is better than the average for cornerbacks -- particularly one who played at about 180 pounds.

(Read full post)

Smith honored for effort against GaTech 

November, 28, 2011
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Georgia’s Garrison Smith was named the SEC Co-Defensive Lineman of the Week today for his efforts against Georgia Tech. Smith had a career-high seven tackles, including 1.5 for a loss, while he filled in for an injured teammate. DawgNation spoke to Smith after the game.

“It was crazy,” Smith said. “Before the game I really didn’t expect to play that much. Last year I didn’t get to play at all. In my mind I was ready in case my number got called, but I didn’t get to play last year so I thought I might not play this year.”

On the second snap of the game, starter DeAngelo Tyson went down with an ankle injury after being chop-blocked.

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