Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy had unfinished business at Georgia.
That played a major role in why the two outside linebackers decided to come back for a final senior season. Carter and Bellamy have shown their worth on Georgia’s defense. But the two defensive standouts have yet to appear in an SEC championship game. With what is returning on both sides of the ball, both Carter and Bellamy felt like a lot can be accomplished in one final year of at Georgia.
The outside linebackers are yet another integral part to what should be a very experienced defense that keeps the Bulldogs in every game this season. Carter and Bellamy also add valuable leadership that can’t be overstated.
Coming out of the spring, here is a look at where the outside linebackers stand.
Post-spring depth chart
Sam linebacker: Carter, D’Andre Walker, Keyon Brown
Jack linebacker: Bellamy, Chauncey Manac
Those on the way
Georgia has three edge pass rushers who will jump in at outside linebacker once they arrive to campus in the coming weeks.
High four-star prospect Robert Beal will do his part to possibly crack Georgia’s rotation at outside linebacker. Beal, who spent his final year at IMG Academy in Florida, offers an ideal blend of size and speed at the position. He walks into a great situation by being able to learn under Carter and Bellamy for a season while growing into his own as a college football player.
Jaden Hunter, also a four-star prospect, was ranked the 13th-best player in the state of Georgia in 2017. Hunter is a legacy signee as his father, Brice Hunter, also played at Georgia.
Cairo outside linebacker Walter Grant is considered the sleeper of the group, although he did earn a fourth star during the recruitment process. Grant is a big outside linebacker at 6-foot-4 and 236 pounds. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he factors into the mix, especially on special teams, earlier than a lot of people expect.
It’s hard to narrow down many weaknesses with Georgia’s defensive positions. That applies once again to the outside linebackers, which should provide a major presence for the Bulldogs’ defense in 2017.
It was a bit of a surprise when both Carter and Bellamy announced they would come back for their senior seasons. Both outside linebackers finished their 2016 seasons strong and likely would have been mid-round draft picks. Having both back keeps a great deal of talent, leadership and experience at the position.
Carter got out to a slow start in the sack department but ended last season with five. Bellamy also recorded five sacks. The two will look to expand on that total, with the front seven featuring a number of talented individuals who could open up even more sack and hurry situations for the edge rushers.
Behind Carter and Bellamy are Walker and Manac, two promising up-and-coming outside linebackers. Manac has been cross-training at defensive end to fill Bellamy’s role when called upon.
If there is one criticism at this position during the past few years it is that the individual sack totals aren’t where they should be. A lot of that has to do with the type of offenses Georgia faces in the SEC East — spread attacks that negate pressure with a quick-passing game.
But the Bulldogs could do a better job in getting to the quarterback on the edge. With Carter and Bellamy back in the fold, this should change for the better. And it’s not only the fact that those two outside linebackers are back, which also happens to be the second season under head coach Kirby Smart and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. The Bulldogs have a ton of talented moving pieces up front to aid the pass rushers.
Trenton Thompson and an experienced defensive line will provide plenty of attention from opposing offensive lines. Roquan Smith, Natrez Patrick and Reggie Carter will provide a formidable inside linebacker group. Add the outside linebackers to the mix and there is no reason Georgia shouldn’t be able to provide a great deal of pressure game in and game out.