Post-spring depth chart: Offense

semerson@macon.comApril 14, 2013 

Spring practice is over, so how did it change the pecking order at each position? Here is one reporter's best guess at how Georgia's offensive depth chart stands entering the summer.

QUARTERBACK
Starter:
Aaron Murray, Sr.
Top backup: Hutson Mason, Jr.
The rest: Parker Welch,* Jr; Christian LeMay, Soph; Faton Bauta, R-Fr.; Brice Ramsey, Fr.
On the way: None.
Comment: The exact pecking order was probably unchanged from before spring. So is the confidence level if something happens to the top two quarterback, which is to say it’s not very high. LeMay failed to supplant Welch, a walk-on, as the No. 3 guy. Bauta’s shoulder tendinitis prevented him from making a move up the depth chart, and Ramsey is going to redshirt unless he’s the only quarterback who escapes a flu epidemic before the Clemson game.

TAILBACK
Starter:
Todd Gurley, Soph.
Top backup: Keith Marshall, Soph.
The rest: Brandon Harton*, Jr.; J.J. Green, Fr..
On the way: A.J. Turman, Brendan Douglas.
Comment: The only movement this spring was Green, recruited as an athlete, spending almost all of his time at tailback. The early enrollee may be small but he showed some good running ability, not only in space but up the middle. So even when Turman arrives it seems Green will get a lot of snaps at tailback, with the potential to be the top option behind Gurley and Marshall.

FULLBACK
Starter:
Merritt Hall*, Jr.
Top backup: Quayvon Hicks, Soph.
The rest: Corey Campbell*, Sr.
On the way: Brendan Douglas.
Comment: Hall and Hicks might actually be co-starters leaving spring, but if the season started today Hall would probably be the first guy out there again. Both will see action this year, even if the team uses the spread a lot more, because the lack of depth at tailback means the offense will want to get the fullbacks involved a bit more. Hicks made strides in the offseason program, and from all accounts Hall hasn’t rested on his laurels after earning a scholarship last year. (Especially since that scholarship may or may not be renewed.) Douglas is listed here because he’s a possibility at fullback, although the numbers at tailback probably result in him staying there. The other walk-on fullbacks, led by Campbell, can fill in if needed.

FLANKER
Starter:
Malcolm Mitchell, Jr.
Top backup: Rantavious Wooten, Sr.
The rest: Justin Scott-Wesley, Soph.; Blake Tibbs, R-Fr.; Kenneth Towns*, R-Fr.
On the way: Rico Johnson, Reggie Davis, Uriah LeMay.

***Note: Most receivers can play both positions and there will be three-and-four wides.***

SPLIT END
Starter:
Michael Bennett, Jr., or Chris Conley, Jr.
Top backup: Bennett or Conley
The rest: Rhett McGowan*, Jr.; Tramel Terry, Fr.; Jonathan Rumph, Jr.; Michael Erdman*, Soph.
Comment: Receiver remains the deepest position on the offense, and probably the entire team. Even with Bennett and Terry out this spring, and Mitchell for G-Day, they didn’t have any problems finding reps for players, which could only have helped players like Rumph and Tibbs, who are trying to crack the rotation. Rumph had a strong G-Day, which he needed after an otherwise lackluster spring. Tibbs actually had better practices than Rumph. For Terry to play it will just matter whether he’s healthy enough. In any case, heading into the preseason there appear to be six guys set to play (Mitchell, Bennett, Conley, Wooten, McGowan, Scott-Wesley). That doesn’t leave many game snaps for others, so it will be a fierce competition among the rest to squeeze in there.

TIGHT END
Starter:
Arthur Lynch, Sr.
Top backup: Jay Rome, Soph.
The rest: Ty Flournoy-Smith, Soph.;
On the way: Jordan Davis.
Comment: Again, status quo at this position, although Rome may have shortened the gap between himself and Lynch. Either way, both will play, and despite Flournoy-Smith’s pre-spring off-field flare-up (which apparently won’t cost him a suspension) he’s also in the mix for some game snaps, and some passes going his way. This spot is so deep and experienced (tight end always seems to be at Georgia) that Davis will get a redshirt unless injuries happen.

LEFT TACKLE
Starter:
John Theus, Soph.
Top backup: Mark Beard, Jr.
The rest: Zach DeBell, Soph.
Comment: And so this is where I start making educated guesses, thanks to the chaos that is Georgia’s offensive line. Look, barring a huge surprise Theus will be starting at one of the tackle spots, and it was notable that they put him at left tackle almost as soon as he was healthy enough to begin practicing this spring. Whether it means he ends up there, who knows. If he doesn’t, Kenarious Gates is actually most likely to be the left tackle, but don’t rule out Beard.

LEFT GUARD
Starter:
Dallas Lee, Sr.
Top backup: Greg Pyke, R-Fr.
The rest: Josh Cardiello, Fr.
On the way: Brandon Kublanow, Fr., DeVondre Seymour, Fr.
Comment: This is another educated guess, and another spot that could end up going to Gates. But Lee, whose stock fell a bit near the end of last season, put a temporary re-claiming on the position this spring. Pyke is a darkhorse candidate here as well.

CENTER
Starter:
David Andrews, Jr.
Top backup: Hunter Long, Soph.
The rest: Cardiello.
Comment: As spring practice finished, Andrews was the only player Richt said was basically guaranteed a starting spot. He may not be the biggest lineman, or a dominant one yet, but the team has confidence in him, and you can’t underestimate the value of a year of work with Murray. Now the backup position is where it could get interesting: Chris Burnette, who will be projected to start at right guard, missed spring practice after shoulder surgery, but he has experience at center and will get some reps there in the preseason. Burnette will be the emergency backup center if Andrews gets hurt, or another option if Andrews’ productivity falls off. Cardiello and Kublanow will compete to be the center of the future, but both may have a future at guard as well.

RIGHT GUARD
Starter:
Chris Burnette, Sr.
Top backup: Austin Long, Jr.
The rest: Aulden Bynum, Fr.
Comment: If Andrews is as sure a starter as Georgia has on the line, Burnette is the second-most certain. And the team hasn’t shown any inclination to move Burnette to left guard, so the right spot seems his to occupy, with everyone scrambling to compete at the left spot. However, if Burnette gets hurt again, this is yet another spot Gates could play, with Austin Long and Pyke also likely to get reps here.

RIGHT TACKLE
Starter:
Kenarious Gates, Sr.
Top backup: Xzavier Ward, Soph.
The rest: Watts Dantzler, Jr.
Comment: This spot could end up being the one that causes the dominoes to fall. If Ward wins the job (he’s apparently only a candidate at right tackle, not left) then it pushes Gates somewhere else, almost certainly guard, because Theus isn’t likely to lose a starting job. So if Gates is at left guard, that would force Lee to the bench. Hence, the fierce competition you can expect this preseason, once everyone is healthy. Don’t rule out Dantzler either, at least for playing time, although he appears a longshot to push for a starting spot.

Note: Players are listed according to their class for the 2013 season. Only redshirt freshman are noted as redshirts. Players who have redshirted but are sophomores, juniors or seniors are just listed as that.

Follow Seth Emerson at @sethemerson.

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