No player on the field better represents what football is all about than the linebacker. The heart of the defense, the backbone of the team, the linebacker is primarily responsible for stopping the run, but the greats are also good pass defenders and the ultimate "sack-masters". If nothing says "football" like the "linebacker" nobody says "linebacker" like "UGA". Listed below are the current University of Georgia alumni occupying NFL roster spots at linebacker.
- Kendrell Bell – (KC Chiefs) (All-SEC 1999 & 2000)
- Boss Bailey – (Detroit Lions) (All-American 2002)
- Chris Clemons – (Washington Redskins)
- Thomas Davis – (Carolina Panthers) (All-SEC 2003 & 2004 (FS))
- Tony Gilbert – (Jacksonville Jaguars) (All-SEC 2002)
- Randall Godfrey – (San Diego Chargers) (All-SEC 1993 & 1994)
- Arnold Harrison – (Pittsburgh Steelers)
- David Pollack – (Cincinnati Bengals) (All-American 2002 & 2003 (DE))
- Odell Thurman – (Cincinnati Bengals) (All-SEC 2004 & 2003)
- Will Witherspoon – (Carolina Panthers)
The current Bulldog linebacker two-deep roster includes:
#1 MLB - Tony Taylor – 6'1" 238lb Jr. (2VL) – A native son of Georgia, Taylor was a Top 50 Georgia recruit as well as a two-time All-State selection at defensive back coming out of high school. Identified as a Butkus Award candidate the Junior missed the 2004 season with a torn ACL. In 2003 he started 12 of 13 games and recorded 82 tackles, 1.0 sack, and 4.0 tackles for loss.
#2 MLB - Marcus Washington – 6'0" 210lb Fr. (HS) – Opportunities for playing time will be limited for the young SuperPrep High School All-American. He will get his looks in clean-up for the Bulldogs in 2005 and presumably will fight for a starting job as soon as 2006, or earlier if Taylor doesn't stay healthy.
#1 WLB - Jarvis Jackson – 6'2" 208lb Jr. (2VL) – A part-time starter in 2004 Jackson will look to make a bigger impact in 2005. He is undersized for somebody playing in the middle, and is probably the least heralded athlete coming out of high school of the six profiled in this article. If I had to pick a "Bronco" in the bunch it would be this young man. Jackson started five games in '04 making 37 tackles, 1 sack and 4.5 tackles for loss.
#2 WLB - Dannell Ellerbe – 6'1" 245lb RFr. (SQ) – There is not a lot to say about the young player from North Carolina. Ellerbe was ranked the #7 outside linebacker recruit in America coming out of high school and was a contributor on the scout squad in 2004. He definitely has the size one would expect to see from a linebacker at UGA.
#1 SLB - Brandon Miller – 6'4" 238lb So. (1VL) – New to the starting job at UGA, Brandon Miller hopes to live up to his high school resume when it comes time to strap on his helmet this Saturday. Having beaten out 2004 regular starter Verdun-Wheeler for the job, Miller will look to show everyone on ESPN why he was a SUPERPREP Elite 50, a high school All-American, and rated the #1 defensive end coming out of high school by Insiders.
#2 SLB - Danny Verdun Wheeler – 6'2" 245lb Jr. (2VL) – The Junior from Georgia started 9 of 11 games in 2004 recording 51 tackles, 1.0 sack, and 6.5 tackles for loss. Verdun Wheeler was a highly rated recruit coming out of high school and proved that he could compete at Georgia. He will be a valuable asset in the event that Brandon Miller doesn't come through the way the Dawgs hope that he will.
Does UGA have talent at linebacker? The answer is a resounding YES! Will this talent prove to be a strength of their defense? The answer is I HOPE SO.
After looking at each of the personnel groups for the Dawgs I will look for the Broncos to exploit the linebacker corps of Georgia. The Bulldogs, in spite of their comments about the size of the Broncos, are not an NFL prototype team as they are designed today. They do not have a massive defensive line, their corners are smallish, and their safeties are even smaller, and as you can see from the #1's above, their linebackers are designed for speed and not necessarily power.
The Broncos are going to have a lot of opportunity on Saturday to play against a team that will not overpower them defensively. This will provide chances for the Broncos to scheme for speed, knowing that at the end of the day they won't be overpowered at the point of attack. I look for the Broncos to have some success running between the tackles and if they can negate the speed on the corners to keep the Dawgs off of Zabransky BSU will score enough points to win the game. GO BRONCOS!!