A Younger Demographic

ATHENS - I’m looking around, and I don’t see Aaron Murray and Todd Gurley any more.

That duo has been at the helm of the top end of Georgia’s talent pool since 2010, and they are nowhere to be found coming into the 2015 season.

That Murray and Gurley are gone is not a good thing, but is reality. This is college football - players leave after a while. That’s why you recruit. And although much of the class of 2013 is either playing for Gus Malzahn or Bobby Petrino, Georgia has still recruited well enough over the last few years to replace those once-gaping holes.

I can’t remember the last time Georgia has been this balanced. The top isn’t as good as it once was, but the balance is there nonetheless. Yes, Nick Chubb is the best overall threat to the other team, but in terms of players No. 2-85, Georgia’s really in a different place than it has been over the last few years.

In the past Georgia has really been able to throw high-end talent at the other team.

In 2004 team, for instance, was loaded up with name-brand players. David Greene, David Pollack, Thomas Davis, Reggie Brown, Fred Gibson, Leonard Pope, Odell Thurman, Tim Jennings and Greg Blue were all high-level players. Davis, Greene and Pollack - in particular - highlighted Georgia’s high-end talent.

While that group was very, very accomplished, it didn’t win the SEC title. The next season, with Greene, Pollack, Brown, Gibson, Davis and Thurman gone, Georgia sewed together one of the most balanced teams Mark Richt has ever had and won the 2005 SEC title. That wasn’t a magical set of players… but there were no holes except when D.J. Shockley got hurt.

College football has changed a lot in the last decade. Now, it seems, what year you are is irrelevant.

Are you young? Doesn’t matter. Are you good? That matters.

Players like Brice Ramsey, Terry Godwin, Jonathon Ledbetter and Trenton Thompson are very likely to be special players… just not this second. They certainly are not what I would call name brand, but they will be. That group is the future (and in some cases the present) of this program, but right now they are not in the top ten of current players on the roster. Why? Because with the exception of Ramsey, none of them have ever played.

In 2004, the players I listed above were established players - they had already started many games as a group. Some of them - Blue and Jennings - were coming into their own. Others - Greene and Pollack - were ending their careers. But they were all relatively know commodities. The truth is that the group of young Bulldogs I just listed above are going to be players, but no one knows that yet because… well, they’ve not played.

What I’m trying to say is that Georgia’s best players in 2015 - at least at a lot of important positions - will be sophomores or younger. Perhaps that’s a scary thing.

Maybe not.

Greene and Pollack’s best team was the 2002 squad that won the SEC title. They were sophomores that year… and it was a great year for both individually and as a team.

Young is not necessarily bad, but its something people are scared of all of the time. Folks seem to think that inexperience means a certain loss. I’m not sure there’s a time you could argue more against that than after a season in which the national champion played with three different quarterbacks in a season, and the younger and more inexperienced they got the better the team performed.

Bad youth is bad. Also, a lot of young in any one spot is bad - see the 2013 Georgia secondary. But talented and skilled youth sprinkled in here and there (Nick Chubb in 2014; Todd Gurley in 2012; Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno in 2007; Greene and Pollack in 2002) is hardly a bad thing.

The high end at Georgia might not be what it once was, but the depth has seemingly finally caught up, and that should make a real difference in 2015.

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