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.
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