Which Freshmen will play in 2004?

ATHENS ­- Danny Ware, Josh Johnson and Brandon Miller have transcended their roles as true freshman already this fall

Danny Ware will be Georgia's starting tailback in the season opener against Georgia Southern on Sept. 4. Johnson and Miller already are working with the second team at linebacker and will get significant playing time early. After those three, the rest of the No. 3 Bulldogs still have at least some doubt whether they will see the field this season or be redshirted.

Who's who in that group became a little clearer this week as Georgia broke into scout team work for the first time and began to prepare for the Eagles. With eight days left before that game, it looks like Georgia will have at least eight and as many as 14 true freshman playing. The Bulldogs brought in a class of 17 freshmen.

PeachCounty wide receiver A.J. Bryant is just below Ware, Johnson and Miller in the pecking order. Bryant is the most likely of the No. 3 Bulldogs' freshman wide receivers to play this season, Coach Mark Richt said. Demiko Goodman and Kenneth Harris are still learning the team's system, receivers coach John Eason said. Bryant is ahead of those two in part because he participated in spring practice with the Bulldogs, although much of that time he practiced at quarterback.

The freshman who has made the quickest move toward playing time is running back Thomas Brown. He missed almost two weeks of practice due to a strained hamstring and only returned to full speed action Monday, but he impressed his coaches and teammates right away. He kept doing it Thursday, scoring two touchdowns in a practice game.

"I was totally surprised," offensive lineman Dan Inman said. "That kid right there is going to be really special."

Brown caught the coaches' eyes before practice even started when he bench-pressed 390 pounds, more than twice his body weight, and squatted 520, and, at 5-foot-8, 183 pounds, he's the kind of small, quick back that Richt loves.

"He has been very impressive," Richt said. "He doesn't seem to be intimidated by anything. I really like him. He's going to be a heck of a player."

With Tyson Browning out due to a hyperextended knee, Tony Milton coming back from a leg injury and Michael Cooper continuing to be slowed by a bruised Achilles' tendon, Brown is the second-best running back right now behind Ware, Richt said. However, he still could be redshirted if Browning, Milton and Cooper are healthy enough all year to back up Ware, the coach said.

"I just stayed focused when I was hurt and made sure I knew what to do when they put me in there," said Brown, who was rated as one of the nation's top runners coming out of high school. "I just hope I've shown them enough that they know what my capabilities are."

Fullback Brannan Southerland may play out of necessity. Although he is battling a minor shoulder injury, he is second on the depth chart thanks to the three-game suspension starter Jeremy Thomas will serve.

Offensive lineman Chester Adams will play if he beats out redshirt freshman James Lee for the fourth tackle job, but offensive lineman Seth Watts will redshirt.

Defensive backs Kelin Johnson and Antonio Sims are expected to play, Richt said. Defensive ends Charles Johnson and Jeremy Lomax and cornerback Ramarcus Brown are "up in the air," he said.

Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe is slightly behind Johnson and Miller and probably won't play this year, defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder said.

Quarterback Blake Barnes signed with the Bulldogs with the understanding he would redshirt this season while David Greene and D.J. Shockley handled the quarterbacking duties. That will leave Barnes with three years of eligibility remaining once Shockley graduates following the 2005 season.

OL Chester Adams Will play if he beats out James Lee for fourth tackle spot

QB Blake Barnes Will redshirt barring catastrophe at quarterback

DB Ramarcus Brown Injury to Mikey Henderson gives him a shot but nothing definite

RB Thomas Brown Richt seems to love him too much to keep him on the bench

WR A.J. Bryant Most likely of three freshman wide receivers to play

LB Danell Ellerbe Will redshirt barring injuries at linebacker

WR Demiko Goodman Probably will be ready if injuries necessitate it

WR Kenneth Harris Probably will be ready if injuries necessitate it

DE Charles Johnson "Up in the air" Richt says

LB Josh Johnson Already second team, certain to play barring injury

DB Kelin Johnson Will get a shot in thin secondary

DE Jeremy Lomax Missed week (neck) puts him just behind Charles Johnson

LB Brandon Miller Another second team freshman who will play

DB Antonio Sims Probably will rotate with Kelin Johnson in secondary

FB Brannan Southerland Shoulder injury set him back but he's second-team right now

RB Danny Ware Starting running back will play right away

OL Seth Watts Will redshirt in order to mature physically

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