ATHENS – With last season well behind them and national signing day just around the corner, it’s a good time to examine exactly what the Georgia Bulldogs got out of whom in 2015 and where they need the most help in 2016. Here’s a breakdown of the five most productive players in each class last season followed by some commentary and an outlook.
Including fifth-years – or sixth-years in the case of Kolton Houston — there were 29 seniors on the Bulldogs’ roster in 2015, 19 of whom had scholarships and nine of whom could be considered regular starters. Few could be categorized as true “stars,” but as a group they were tremendously productive.
- WR Malcolm Mitchell — 13 games, 13 starts, 58-865 receiving, 5 TDs
- OT John Theus — 13 games, 13 starts
- OT/OG Kolton Houston – 13 games, 13 starts
- PK Marshall Morgan – 13 games, 13 starts, 59 kickoffs (17 touchbacks), 18-25 FGs
- TE Jay Rome – 13 games, 1 start, 8-88 receiving
- LB Jake Ganus – 13 games, 13 starts, 102 tackles, 2 INTs, 1 sack, 1 FR
- OLB Jordan Jenkins – 12 games, 12 starts, 59 tackles, 4.0 sacks, 12 QB hurries, 2 FF
- NG Chris Mayes – 12 games, 11 starts, 41 tackles, 1 PBU, 1 FR
- DE Sterling Bailey – 13 games, 10 starts, 46 tackles, 1 sack, 7 QB hurries
- DE James DeLoach – 13 games, 4 starts, 25 tackles, 4 QB hurries
Comment/outlook: Mitchell overcame an injury-riddled career to log a solid final season. But due to Georgia’s quarterback and passing-game issues, he wasn’t utilized as much as expected, or needed. Theus, the most-touted as an incoming freshman, was the best UGA had on the line had but didn’t live up to the all-conference billing predicted for his final season. He was switched from left to right tackle in an effort to bolster the line’s play. Morgan’s 72 percent rate and poor consistency from 30-49 yards hurt him and Georgia. … Ganus, a first-year transfer from UAB, saved the day for the defense. He was voted both defensive and overall MVP by the team. Jenkins fell well short of his self-prescribed goal to run down the Bulldogs’ sack record but was a tremendous player and excellent student-athlete. … As a group, the seniors provided strong locker room leadership. Georgia’s senior class will be even smaller next season, with only 12 scholarshipped juniors set to return, so they’ll have a tough act to follow.
Including redshirts, there were 23 juniors on the roster, 14 of whom were on scholarship. That includes tailback Keith Marshall, who at times was listed as a senior but was a junior in terms of eligibility. He and outside linebacker Leonard Floyd already have declared for the NFL draft.
- QB Greyson Lambert – 12 games, 12 starts, 63.3% passing, 1,959 yards, 12 TDs, 2 INTs
- OC/OG Brandon Kublanow — 13 games, 13 starts
- WR/KR Reggie Davis – 13 games, 7 starts, 12-187 rec., 1 TD, 17 KOR, 8 PR (1 TD)
- OG Greg Pyke – 12 games, 10 starts
- TB Keith Marshall – 11 games, 0 starts, 68-364 rushing, 4-28 rec., 4 TDs
- OLB Leonard Floyd – 13 games, 13 starts, 68 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 14 QBH, 10.5 TFLs, 1 TD (96 FR)
- ILB Tim Kimbrough – 12 games, 7 starts, 67 tackles, 1 sack, 5.5 TFLs
- S Quincy Mauger – 13 games, 11 starts, 53 tackles, 5 PBU, 6 QBH
- ILB Ryne Rankin – 12 games, 0 starts, 9 tackles
- OLB Chuks Amaechi – 13 games, 1 start, 5 tackles, 3 QBH
Comment/outlook: Typically your junior class is where you’re going to find most of your star power on most teams. Georgia’s juniors were a little light in that regard. Lambert was solid but unspectacular, with the exception of one remarkable week of the season. But otherwise the Bulldogs would have been completely lost had he not transferred in from Virginia. Neither Pyke nor Kublanow played as well as expected. … Georgia will sorely miss Floyd, who played all over the field but was never left to concentrate on rushing the passer. Kimbrough was tremendously productive, but his future is uncertain following an end-of-year suspension. Rankin doesn’t get enough credit for his contributions on special teams, for which he was named a captain. … These juniors didn’t carry the team; next year’s will be expected to.
Including redshirts and walkons, there were 27 sophomores on last year’s roster. Nineteen of them were on scholarship and they represented the team’s most talented group. Primarily coming out of the Class of 2014, this is an especially salty crew from a skill-position standpoint. But as new head coach Kirby Smart has pointed out, it lacks a little in the trenches.
- TB Sony Michel — 13 games, 6 starts, 1,465 total yards, 1,161 rushing, 11 TDs
- OG/OT Isaiah Wynn – 13 games, 13 starts
- TB Nick Chubb – 6 games, 6 starts, 747 yards rushing, 8 TDs
- WR/KR Isaiah McKenzie – 10 games, 4 starts, 10-123 rec., 17 PRs (2 TDs)
- TE Jeb Blazevich – 13 games, 12 starts, 15-144 rec., 1 TD
- S Dominick Sanders – 13 games, 12 starts, 45 tackles, 5 INT (205 ret.), 5 PBU, 1 sack
- CB Malkom Parrish – 13 games, 13 starts, 36 tackles, 2 INT, 1 sack, 5 TFLs
- OLB Dalvin Bellamy – 11 games, 2 starts, 33 tackles, 3 sacks, 9 QBH, 1 PBU
- OLB Lorenzo Carter – 13 games, 2 starts, 18 tackles, 0 sacks, 6 QBH
- DT John Atkins – 10 games, 3 starts, 11 tackles, 1 PBU, 2 QBH
Comment/outlook: If Georgia has success in 2016, it will be largely because of what this group is able to do. If Chubb is able to recover 100 percent from last year’s knee injury, the Bulldogs will have one of the best tailback combinations in the nation. Whether new line coach Sam Pittman sticks with the 290-pounder Wynn at left tackle, where he ended the season, will be something to keep an eye on. … Including cornerback Aaron Davis, who started nine of the 13 games in which he played, the Bulldogs will have one of the most experienced secondaries in the SEC. It will be time for Carter to finally live up to his 5-star billing as a recruit. He and Bellamy give Georgia a chance to continue its strong outside linebacker legacy.
When Georgia claimed it was a young team last year, it wasn’t kidding. Including redshirts and walkons, the Bulldogs’ roster last season included 46 freshmen. And they weren’t there just for looks. A total of 22 true freshmen took the field for UGA in 2015, tops in the country. In all, 33 players got their first taste of college ball. The star potential is strong.
- WR/KR Terry Godwin – 13 games, 9 starts, 35-379 rec., 3 TDs, 4 PRs, 1 KOR
- TE Jackson Harris – 12 games, 1 start, 4-50 rec.
- WR Michael Chigbu — 10 games, 0 starts, 4-28 rec.
- OT Aulden Bynum – 5 games, 1 start
- OL Kendall Baker – 3 games, 0 starts
- DT Trent Thompson — 12 games, 5 starts, 25 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 0.5 sacks, 3 QBH
- LB Natrez Patrick — 11 games, 2 starts, 22 tackles, 1 sack, 1 QBH
- DB Rico McGraw — 9 games, 5 starts, 20 tackles, 4 PBU
- LB Roquan Smith – 12 games, 0 starts, 20 tackles, 1.5 TFL
- DT D’Andre Walker — 13 games, 0 starts, 9 tackles, 0.5 sacks
Comment/outlook: This is a group out of which the Bulldogs’ coaches will be hoping to see tremendous growth. Most of the contributions last season came on special teams. Clearly Godwin is a budding star as an offensive and special teams play-maker. And even as a freshman, Thompson dominated at times from his defensive tackle position. But injuries to both ankles kept him off the field for much of the season. Georgia is particularly excited about their potential at linebacker, where Patrick, Smith and Juwan Taylor have shown promise during games. … The Bulldogs absorbed a big off-season blow with the departure of safety Johnathan Abram. He played in 10 games and started four and had 25 tackles. … The Bulldogs will be looking to get more impact out of this year’s incoming class, particularly at wide receiver and on the lines of scrimmage. Getting bigger in both areas is a priority.