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UGA sophomore Mecole Hardman

Which players need to step up for UGA in spring practice?

Cy Brown

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Step up or step out

The start of spring practice is less than a week away. And the question for spring is always, “Which guys are going to improve and set themselves apart from the pack?” That’s a difficult question to answer, and we won’t have one until after G-Day in late April.

But what we do know right now are the players Georgia needs to step up in spring practice. There are some big holes on the depth chart that need filling. There’s also a need for some veteran guys who, until now, haven’t played up to their potential to turn a corner. Here are a few guy who could significantly improve the team if they can assert themselves in the spring and carry that into the fall:

Mecole Hardman — Hardman is the name on everyone’s lips this spring. Lots of recruitniks were dying to see the speedy former 5-star prospect get the ball last season, but a move to defensive back has limited his touches. But a kick return spot is now open without Isaiah McKenzie in the mix. Hardman could lock himself into that role during the spring. The real place he needs to improve is the secondary, though. He never played DB before last season, so there’s been a learning curve. If he can get a solid grasp on the position, though, Hardman has the speed and skill to be mighty dangerous in pass defense.

Ben Cleveland — I used Cleveland as a proxy because he’s the most highly touted lineman from the 2016 class, but any and all of the young linemen — Solomon Kindley, Pat Allen, whomever — need to take it to the next level. The line was a huge problem last season and it could take a step back this season with so much youth. UGA needs some guys to grow up fast to contribute in 2017. And if a guy such as Cleveland doesn’t stand out in the spring, he may get lost in the shuffle by the time Netori Johnson, Isaiah Wilson and a slew of other highly touted linemen roll into town.

Terry Godwin — Jacob Eason is without an obvious No. 1 target, and Godwin is the most experienced receiver on the team. He also gets to move into the slot with the departure of McKenzie, a spot more suited to his skills. And like on the line, some talented receivers come to Athens in the fall. Godwin isn’t at risk to get no playing time or anything, but he could see his targets dwindle. If Godwin is ever going to live up to his 5-star billing, this is the season to do it. He might not get another chance.

Rodrigo Blankenship — Yeah, he has the whole folk hero thing going for him, but he hasn’t proved himself to be a great kicker yet or anything. And Wofford transfer David Marvin could push him for the starting job. Hot Rod needs a good spring to keep a lock on his gig. The fans definitely want to see him out there. At least if he’s making kicks.

Movin’ out

The big news from Tuesday was the announced transfers of QB Brice Ramsey and DB Reggie Wilkerson. The more significant of the two departures is Ramsey’s. Although it isn’t much of a surprise, it does leave Georgia in a hole at quarterback. The only scholarship signal callers on the team are Jake Fromm and Jacob Eason, so UGA will be walking a thin line and crossing fingers for no absences from their two guys under center.

Also, now is a good time to remember that Georgia supposedly prioritized Ramsey over Deshaun Watson, a move that kicked off the post-Aaron Murray QB problems in Athens. Watson didn’t receive an offer from Georgia until December of his junior season, by which time he was already solid to Clemson. It’s a move that Watson found laughable and I believe history proved him right.

Seth Emerson did a post breaking down how UGA’s scholarship situation shakes out with those two guys out of the mix. One interesting thing to look at ahead of next season is who fills these vacated scholarships. I’m sure Ken Blankenship has an opinion on the matter.

NIT time

Georgia basketball begins its NIT run Wednesday night in Athens against Belmont, if you’re into that sort of thing. No, it won’t be a tantalizing display of beautiful basketball. The UGA players are probably pretty indifferent about the result, considering they fell short of the only goal that mattered. But it does give everyone one last chance to get out to Stegeman and give it up for J.J. Frazier. With Yante Maten a possibility to jump to the NBA, it may also be your final chance to see him in red and black.

Tip-off is 7 p.m. and the game can be streamed online at ESPN3.

Jarvis Jones on the move

It appears former Dawg Jarvis Jones is leaving Pittsburgh to sign with the Arizona Cardinals. Which is as good a reason as any to post this.

15 set to participate in UGA pro day

Although Isaiah McKenzie is the only former Bulldog to work out at the NFL Scouting Combine, many more will be present at UGA’s pro day on Wednesday. Here’s the 15 former Bulldogs slated to work out for scouts, via Dawgs247′s Kipp Adams:

  • Isaiah McKenzie, WR
  • Tim Kimbrough, ILB
  • Maurice Smith, CB
  • Quincy Mauger, S
  • Brendan Douglas, RB
  • Reggie Davis, WR
  • Charlie Hegedus, WR
  • Tyler Catalina, OL
  • Greg Pyke, OL
  • Brandon Kublanow, OL
  • Glenn Welch, LS
  • Chuks Amaechi, OLB
  • Tommy Long, OLB
  • Johnny O’Neal, OLB
  • Shattle Fenteng, CB

Enter the ‘Circle of Suck’

Want to see why every team in college football is terrible? And can you find Georgia in there?

The 507-team Circle of Suck to end all Circles of Suck from CFB

ICYMI

Good dog

Always watching. Always waiting.