The Georgia Bulldogs expected big things out of the 2013 season thanks to the wealth of returning talent in Athens this season. While they fell short of their goals, Georgia still had a very successful season thanks to the contributions of some unexpected breakout players this season. The biggest breakout success among them may have been freshman linebacker Leonard Floyd who stepped up to make an immediate impact in his first year on campus.
Mark Richt was expecting linebacker Jordan Jenkins to be the star on defense this fall and the sophomore had a strong season with 4.0 sacks on the season and a team-high 11 tackles for loss. Floyd, however, came on strong to surprise everyone as the best pass-rusher on the field for Georgia in 2013, leading the team with 6.5 sacks. He finished No. 7 on the team in total tackles this season, recording 47 total tackles, to go along with a pass breakup, two forced fumbles, a blocked kick and 16 quarterback pressures.
Georgia’s success on defense so often is predicated on having disruptive linebackers making plays in the offensive backfield. With Floyd emerging and showing a natural ability rush the passer this season, the Bulldogs are set up for sustained success on defense moving forward. Paired with Jenkins, UGA has a young core of playmaking defenders that will only get better as they continue to improve their games over the next several seasons.
Having young stars emerge may not have gotten Georgia over the top in 2013, but having Floyd step up as a freshman to become a pass-rushing threat will go a long way in building success in 2014 and beyond. How high will Floyd’s star rise with the Bulldogs in his collegiate career?