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Dawg Post Breakdown: Inside Linebackers

Led by two experienced players and two talented sophomores, the inside linebacker position is one of the deepest position groups for the Bulldogs in 2016. DawgPost takes a quick look at the position and see which players need to lead this group going into the summer.

Tim Kimbrough, Senior:

The 6-foot-0 226 pound senior is the team's returning tackler from last season with 67 tackles, and brings leadership and experience to a talented group.  He's not the biggest inside backer on the team, but he has shown the ability to lay a big hit and shoot gaps to stop the run.

Kimbrough was a special teams weapon early in his career, but his role has increased more and more each season. He is a good tackler who should be expected to solidify one of the inside linebacker starting positions.

The former Warren Central (IN) star totaled 6 tackles during Saturday's G-day scrimmage.

Natrez Patrick, Sophomore:

One of the emerging stars from last year's defense was former Mays (GA) star Natrez Patrick.  Patrick gave the Bulldogs a strong presence in the middle of last year's defense, and has showed continuous improvement through this spring. Patrick has good size at 6-foot-3 248-pounds, and showed good instincts and the ability to rush the passer a little as well.

The former four-star defensive end prospect played all over the defense in high school, and has found a nice home at middle linebacker for Georgia.  Patrick is one of the guys on the entire defensive side of the football who really has a chance to have a breakout role not only of the field, but in the locker room as well.  He has so much talent at the position and will have an opportunity to make tons of plays this fall.

Patrick totaled 22 tackles and 1 sack last season while only starting two games.  The sophomore tallied 4 tackles during Saturday's G-day scrimmage.

Roqaun Smith, Sophomore:

While most still might remember Smith for his very interesting recruitment last season, there is a chance they might know Smith for another reason after the 2016 season.  While Smith underwent wrist surgery on January 28th, there are still high expectations for the rising sophomore.  

Smith made an impact last season in a special teams role, but the departures of Ganus and Floyd will give Smith a larger role this upcoming season.  Listed at 6-foot-1 217-pounds, Smith is still a little undersized, but shows the ability to run sideline to sideline and make plays on the football.  He has good cover skills, and while he not play every down, Smith still has a good chance to play often and make an impact.

The former Macon County (GA) play maker recorded 20 tackles last season in a limited role.  Smith played Saturday's G-day scrimmage with a club on his wrist, and was able to record one tackle.

 Reggie Carter, Red-shirt Junior:

It seems like Carter has been Georgia a very long time.  The red-shirt junior has been known to have made big strides the last few springs since his arrival in Athens, but injuries have slowed him down in the fall, including a shoulder injury that caused him to take a red-shirt season last season after recording 28 tackles during the 2014 season.

Like Kimbrough, Carter brings experience to this position, and can make an impact when completely healthy.  Like some of the other middle linebackers, Carter doesn't have ideal size at 6-foot-1 228, but he is a tough player who is bound for a big season if he continues to get better and stay healthy this summer.  While he might not start, Carter will be a tremendous help off the bench and still has a chance to make an impact on special teams as well.  

Carter recorded 6 tackles during Saturday's G-day scrimmage.

Sophomore Juwan Taylor, senior Ryne Rankin, senior Ridge Underwood, and senior Johnny O'Neal will also provide depth in a deep position group. Expect them too see the field more on special teams.

Incoming freshman Jaleel Laguins is a four-star prospect who has a bright future in Athens down the road.  The 6-foot-2 216-pound linebacker needs to add weight, and will be in position to take a red-shirt season in 2016.

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