What we learned from Spring: Mike LB

Georgia spring practice concluded with its annual G-Day game. Here is a look at the Mike Linebackers:

It was not that long ago that Odell Thurman was skating on thin ice. After enrolling at Georgia he was dismissed from the team by Mark Richt and subsequently sent to Georgia Military. He arrived back on campus in January of 2003 and with the exception of his arrest the week before the Clemson game (he was giving friends a ride home that were drinking; Odell did not have a driver's license and was not drinking) he has stayed out of trouble off of the field and performed highly on it.

Thurman is the player that Georgia needed to step up into the Mike linebacker spot. He showed his playmaking abilities last season against Auburn when he stopped the Tigers on numerous occasions and eventually ended the game with his 99-yard touchdown interception return. Thurman is a playmaker that "arrives at the ball with bad intentions".

He dealt with a little bit of a shoulder injury during the spring but should be fine by the fall. Thurman got a lot of attention about possibly being an All-SEC selection for the fall (I know that I will vote for him at that spot/He was named to several All-SEC teams for 2003). Thurman does not have an experienced back up so the Bulldogs must make sure that he does not get hurt during the season. With Tony Taylor already out for all of 2004 Georgia can not afford another injury to a starting linebacker.

Jarvis Jackson will be a playmaker one day at Georgia, too. It's just not going to be at the start of the 2004 season. Thurman will play the lion-share of the minutes at the Mike spot so Jackson will be forced to make his impact in mop up duty and on special teams. Jackson worked almost exclusively with the 2nd team defensive unit in the spring.

Depth Chart Shuffle:

None. Steve White is currently the number three Mike but it is not clear if he will be able to hold onto that spot all of 2004. Thurman is the starter in front of Jackson; that won't change.

2004 prediction:

Thurman will make at least one season altering play in 2004 before announcing after the Bulldogs' bowl game that he will forgo his senior season in Athens for the NFL.

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