Editor’s note: Each day between now and Georgia’s Capital One Bowl date with Nebraska, we will review the season for a key Bulldogs player and attempt to project what’s next. Today we’ll look at right guard Chris Burnette.
No. 68 Chris Burnette
Role in 2012: Along with fellow guard Dallas Lee, Burnette returned as one of the starters on a rebuilding offensive line and helped the group -- one of the biggest uncertainties before the season -- enjoy a successful first season together.
The good: In his second season as a starter, Burnette was one of the Bulldogs’ most consistent performers along the line. Also one of the Bulldogs’ smartest players, Burnette served a key role in helping true freshman right tackle John Theus understand his assignments if ever he needed assistance. Away from the field, Burnette’s public marriage proposal at a Sunday church service -- with dozens of teammates in attendance to cheer him on -- was one of the season’s feel-good stories.
The bad: Throughout Burnette’s career, injuries have cost the junior lineman at least some playing time. More severe ailments kept him from contributing much at all until 2011, when he started 12 games and injuries forced him to miss two starts. And this season he missed the second half of the Ole Miss game and the two ensuing games after suffering a shoulder injury. Most football players endure injury issues at some point, but Burnette would submit that he has already hit his quota.
Crystal ball: Burnette will be a senior next season and has started all 23 games in which he competed through the last two seasons. That doesn’t necessarily guarantee he will start in 2013 -- particularly considering that the coaching staff vows they will host open competition for the starting spots during spring practice -- but, so long as Burnette is healthy, we’d be surprised to see someone else line up at right guard to start the 2013 opener against Clemson.