ESPN snubs Bulldogs from ‘RBU’ discussion, but names Georgia ‘LBU’
If there’s one position group Georgia fans are most proud of, it’s running back. The Bulldogs have produced a number of great ones over the years, from Herschel Walker to Garrison Hearst. In the past decade alone, the likes of Todd Gurley, Sony Michel and Nick Chubb have all taken snaps in Georgia’s backfield.
Even if you think there might be one or two schools with a better collection of running backs, it would be hard to put 10 schools ahead of Georgia.
But that’s what ESPN did when stacking up running back since the start of the BCS era in 1998.
ESPN came up with a formula and ranked which schools produce the most talent at each position. When it came to the running backs position, Georgia was completely omitted from the top-10. Low’s rationale for leaving Georgia out had to do with the lack of star power produced during the early years of the BCS.
“One team surprisingly absent from the Running Back U top 10 is Georgia, which has had its share of talented runners over the years,” ESPN’s Chris Low wrote. “In the past four years, the likes of Sony Michel, Nick Chubb and Todd Gurley have rumbled their way through Athens, but a lack of star power in the first half of the BCS era held the Dawgs back.”
Alabama was ranked as the No. 1 team when it comes to producing running backs, with Wisconsin at No. 2 and LSU coming in third. Fellow SEC schools Arkansas and Auburn also made the top-10.
Since the start of the BCS, Georgia has produced seven 1,000-yard rushers, with Elijah Holyfield, D’Andre Swift, Knowshon Moreno and Musa Smith joining Gurley, Swift and Michel. The Bulldogs again figure to have a strong stable of running backs in 2019, as Swift returns and Brian Herrien and Zamir White figure to take on bigger roles.
Georgia wasn’t completely left off ESPN’s list of position rankings, as the Bulldogs took home the top spot when it comes to linebackers. Georgia has had some strong linebackers in recent years, highlighted most prominently by 2017 Butkus Award winner Roquan Smith.
When you add in the likes Jarvis Jones, Alec Ogletree, and Justin Houston, it’s pretty clear that Georgia has as good an argument as anyone when it comes to producing elite linebackers.
“Historically, the Linebacker U tag might have been reserved for Penn State, and the Nittany Lions are still up there,” Low wrote. “But the Dawgs claim the top spot since the start of the BCS in 1998, thanks to their array of run-stuffing inside linebackers, pass-rushing specialists on the outside and do-it-all guys cut from the mold of Boss Bailey, who was the heartbeat of the 2002 Georgia defense that ranked fourth nationally in scoring.”
Linebacker isn’t exactly a position of concern for the Bulldogs this season, but there isn’t a proven star on the team. Junior Monty Rice was leading the team in tackles last season before going down with a foot injury in November.
But there are a number of promising options at both the inside and outside linebacker positions this fall. Nakobe Dean — an inside linebacker — really stood out this spring and seems like someone who will be pushing for major playing time early on in his time in Athens.
At outside linebacker, Nolan Smith, Brenton Cox and Adam Anderson are all 5-star recruits in either their first or second year in the program. But it’s not guaranteed that they see the field with the likes of Azeez Ojulari and Jermaine Johnson also expecting to contribute. Whoever ends getting major reps at outside linebacker will have to replace D’Andre Walker, who led Georgia with 7.5 sacks a season ago.
Georgia opens the 2019 season on Aug. 31, as the Bulldogs visit the Vanderbilt Commodores. The game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET on the SEC Network.
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