Five Impact Newcomers in Athens

ATHENS - Chad Simmons, Fletcher Page and Dean Legge take a look at five impact newcomers for Georgia.

Isaiah Crowell

Chad Simmons on why Crowell was a prep star:

Crowell is a similar back to Marcus Lattimore when talking about guys who are ready to make an immediate impact at running back. His only real weakness coming out of high school was pass blocking. He has not been tested with a large amount of carries yet, but he has all the tools to be a premier college running back.

Fletcher Page on why the depth chart allows for Crowell to make his move:

Maybe Isaiah Crowell was going to be the featured back in 2011 all along. Or maybe he was going to fight his way up the backfield ladder and earn the most carries in 2011.

Those were the prevalent thoughts before that ladder lost a couple rungs—Washaun Ealey and Caleb King—since Crowell signed to play for Georgia.

Now there isn't much choice—Crowell must be the game breaking presence that he's supposed to be as soon as possible.

Is it too much to ask of a true freshman? South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore proved last year it's not. Georgia's other alternatives: Richard Samuel becoming the back many thought he could be out of high school. Carlton Thomas becoming a consistent threat, frequently used by Mike Bobo, or Ken Malcome staying healthy enough to command the most carries.

Perhaps any of those options could actually happen. But I think I'll take my chances on the unproven true freshman. And so will Georgia.

Dean Legge on what it all means for Crowell:

There is going to be a lot of pressure on Crowell to deliver now for Georgia. I'm not sure how great a thing that is for him. He doesn't have to beat anyone of substance for the starting spot – meaning: how much is he going to have to push himself to be the starter. Once he's the starter who is going to threaten taking snaps away from him.

The short answer is that Georgia fans better hope that Crowell is self-motivated. He's certainly not without talent – he proved that every time I watched him play in a Carver uniform.

Crowell is going to have to navigate two things more than any other newcomer on the team – the pressure of the Bulldog Nation needing his unique talents right this second, and the pressure of being able to handle that responsibility.

If he can do that Georgia will win the SEC East for sure.

John Jenkins

Chad Simmons on why Jenkins was a JUCO star:

Jenkins is the big body necessary to play in the middle of the 3-4 defense. He was one of only a few 3-4 nose tackle in JUCO available in 2011. He not only demands attention from a couple of offensive linemen, but he can get up the field and collapse the pocket as well. He moves well and can change directions.

Fletcher Page on why the depth chart allows for Jenkins to make his move:

The nose tackle was the missing piece to Georgia's defense last season. Undersized DeAngelo Tyson gave it his best shot. Kwame Geathers couldn't stay healthy enough to take over. And Bean Anderson never was involved because of toe surgery.

We've beaten this point to a bloody pulp: The 3-4 just isn't the same without a commanding force at the nose.

This makes John Jenkins the biggest (literally) incoming player on the defensive side of the ball.

True story: During the offseason, coach Mark Richt got on an elevator at Butts-Mehre with two men: Max Jean-Gilles and Jenkins. Jean-Gilles, Richt swears, has the biggest head of any player at Georgia during his tenure.

Jean-Gilles was well over 350 pounds when he played at Georgia, becoming an All-America selection in 2005. Despite holding the "large" crown for many years, the Bucket Head torch was passed on that elevator to Jenkins, according to Richt.

Jenkins is the large body needed to man the nose, but he's also athletic enough to warrant a single-digit number in case he's ever needed in big packages on offense.

That's scary.

Luckily for Georgia, Geathers came on strong this offseason, winning the Defensive MVP at the conclusion of spring drills.

So now, perhaps, the Bulldogs have two viable pieces at the nose.

That's just fine. As Jerry Reed said playing as coach Red Beaulieu in the Waterboy: "The only thing better than a crawfish dinner, is five crawfish dinners."

Dean Legge on what it all means for Jenkins:

You have to have the players. Period. End of story.

Georgia's defense now has all of the pieces to the puzzle as a result of John Jenkins. He's probably the one part of the Dream Team class the Dawgs could not live without.

Sure, Kwame Geathers has developed into a pretty good defensive lineman, but imagine what it will be like with Geathers on the field at the same time with Jenkins… scary. Geathers is the 3-4 nose – he's it. Besides Geathers no one else in Silver Britches is being confused as a nose. That caused real problems for Georgia against teams with a running back (or a running quarterback) last season.

South Carolina may beat Georgia in Athens the second weekend of the season, but there will be a new reality for Lattimore as he steps to the line of scrimmage – a 340-pound new reality.

Malcolm Mitchell

Chad Simmons on why Mitchell was a prep star:

Mitchell was one of the top athletes in the country in 2011. He has all of the tools to be an elite wide receiver or defensive back in college. He has great speed, is a game-changer, and can take it the distance from anywhere on the field.

Fletcher Page on why the depth chart allows for Mitchell to make his move:

Fact or fiction: Georgia will not be able to replace A.J. Green in 2011.

Well, Bob, that's a fact.

Green is a once-in-a-lifetime player, who made things easier on the entire offense for three seasons at Georgia.

And senior Kris Durham played a perfect complimentary role, the steady veteran who came up big in his final season.

The absence of those two players will hurt—but that doesn't mean the Bulldogs' returning receivers won't be able to catch passes, make plays and score touchdowns.

In due part to a lack of depth, but also because of his own talent and work ethic, Malcolm Mitchell stands the best shot of a young player making an impact at wideout this season.

Outside of Tavarres King, there are no real proven commodities at the position. And one source says Mitchell already knows a good portion of the playbook and had an outstanding attendance record at voluntary pass drills this summer.

That last part is important. Mitchell is a speedster with quickness and straight-line speed. The talent is there, no doubt. But it may be Mitchell's hard work this summer that gets him on the field so early this fall.

Dean Legge on what it all means for Mitchell:

Get A.J. Green out of your head. Mitchell is not Green. He may be faster; he may have some of the same skill set – but he's most certainly not A.J. Green.

And that's ok.

You'd rather have both, but Green is gone and Mitchell will be here for at least the next three years. Folks heading to Valdosta games who didn't know any better thought they were going to see the Jay Rome show – and Rome did star from time to time. But it was really the Mitchell show with his sidekick Rome.

Alabama was crazy to get Mitchell – word was that Mike Bobo went into the parking lot after Mitchell announced he was headed to Georgia and did cartwheels. Why?

Bobo knows the drill, and he knows he will look a lot smarter with the Valdosta native playing for him. Mitchell is an explosive, take-it-to-the-house receiver who can change the game – a smaller Percy Harvin. Georgia signed two immediate impact offensive players in 2011 – Crowell and Mitchell.

Ray Drew

Chad Simmons on why Drew was a prep star:

Drew is a long and rangy defensive end who can really pursue the football. He is mentally tough, contains the edge well and is a strong pass rusher.

Fletcher Page on why the depth chart allows for Drew to make his move:

Just how quickly Ray Drew is ready to play… and how quickly Ray Drew does play are two totally different things heading into 2011.

Drew played as a defensive end in high school, but is now moving to outside linebacker in Todd Grantham's 3-4 scheme.

Football is still football and Drew will probably be comfortable getting after the quarterback from the first day of fall camp.

But Grantham's OLBs don't always rush or blitz… at times pass coverage is needed. That entails moving away from the ball—something Drew hasn't done much of in his football career.

Despite the need for that adjustment to take place, Drew may or may not play before he is actually ready. The outside linebacker position isn't exactly teeming with experienced players, so Drew could find himself on the two-deep quickly.

And as Grantham likes to say: "When you're on the two-deep, you're playing."

Dean Legge on what it all means for Drew:

Ray Drew is going to find himself in a position to change the game at some point during this season. His size and ability is undeniable. He probably won't be a starter at the beginning of the season, but he will figure out a way to get onto the field.

People like Ray Drew. He's hard not to like. Guy will follow his lead – particularly the younger players. It is critical that Drew get solid playing time and that he make the most of it when he does play.

Drew is the future of the leadership on this team, and guys are going to listen to him a lot more when he's making plays (in other words proving it) rather than sitting on the sideline.

Drew will be an impact player sometime in 2011 – maybe its asking a bit much to expect that to happen in September.

Jarvis Jones

Chad Simmons on why Jones was a prep star:

Jones was a college-ready linebacker physically coming out of high school. He had good size, good speed and good length. He is tough and he could play any of the three linebacker positions.

Fletcher Page on why the depth chart allows for Jones to make his move:

Jarvis Jones doesn't look like a sophomore in college.

Now, obviously since Jones transferred from Southern Cal and had to sit out a year, he's actually three years removed from Carver.

But still, Jones already looks like a man. Maybe it's his build or his dreads—regardless of the reason; Jones has already earned the trust of coach Todd Grantham.

Last season, Grantham leaned on Justin Houston and Akeem Dent, trusting them to be coaches on the field.

This season, Christian Robinson and Jones will be the players Grantham turns to.

That speaks volumes for Jones, considering he's yet to play a down for Georgia. Jones is already one of the most respected players in the locker room.

"Oh yeah, Jarvis will keep us in line," said fellow Columbus native Quintavious Harrow. "He'll make sure we're doing what we're supposed to be."

Jones is not only important for who he is replacing (Houston), but also because there aren't really any other trusted bodies to play at OLB. Ray Drew is on the horizon, but he is still a freshman who must find his way. And T.J. Stripling is still recovering from knee surgery, although he could be ready to go for fall camp.

Either way, Jones is important for what he brings to field—and also because those behind him on the depth chart can't bring what Jones does.

Dean Legge on what it all means for Jones:

Georgia needs Jones to be what he is – the best overall playmaker on the defense – and they are going to need him to be that from the jump. The plane ticket matter with the NCAA should be resolved by the time the Bulldogs run onto the floor at the Georgia Dome.

Jones is as good as Justin Houston if not better – that's what I have been told and led to believe. If that's the case – coupled with Jenkins' confrontation of two offensive linemen at the nose spot of the 3-4 – that should mean tons of playmaking opportunities for Jones.

Lane Kiffin was stupid to run Jones off from USC.

Simply put: an offensive lineman is not going to be able to handle Jones off the edge. The result of third and longs could go from punting to turnovers a lot more often in 2011 thanks to Jarvis Jones.

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