The Georgia Bulldogs‘ current defensive depth chart has two major themes: surprises and new faces.
Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt made no bones about it when he was hired. Last season’s accomplishments and failures mean nothing to him, and if this depth chart is any indication, he was not kidding. The biggest surprise of all is preseason All-American linebacker Ramik Wilson currently running second string behind little-heralded sophomore Tim Kimbrough. Wilson was slowed with a concussion for a couple of weeks but since that time, he has yet to regain his position. Whether this demotion is a motivational tool or a sign that Wilson has rested on his laurels and lost his starting spot remains to be seen.
While it is unlikely that Wilson will remain on the bench for long, this is a sign that exceptions are not made in Pruitt’s camp. Last year’s team sack leader, defensive end Ray Drew, is also running with the second team. Reports from practice indicate that Drew has played well, but the coaches want more from him. While he is in fantastic shape physically, there may be some mental hiccupping going on that is preventing Drew from solidifying that starting position. As it stands, James DeLoach is the starter with four days left to the Dawgs’ first game against Clemson.
Also making appearances in the starting secondary are seldom-used junior Devin Bowman at cornerback and senior walk-on Lucas Redd at safety. Many Dawg fans probably had to pull out the media guide to refresh their memory on these two players. The war of attrition took its toll on Georgia’s secondary during the offseason and these two have emerged at the forefront. Remaining on top for the rest of the season will be a challenge, especially with the freshman talent waiting in the wings.
One of the newest faces on the Bulldog roster created a buzz in fall camp and now finds himself starting at the Star position. Dominick Sanders came to Athens with little fanfare out of Tucker High School in Atlanta, but his name is no longer a mystery, and neither are his skills. Sanders has taken the bull by the horns and it appears that J.J. Green will be backing up the younger Dawg for the time being.
The lineup can certainly change tomorrow or immediately after the first play, but these newly named starters have to be proud of their progress thus far. Pruitt has lived up to his promise to shake things up, and the Dawg defense will have a totally new look on Aug. 30. Whether that is good or bad remains to be seen.