DN Roundtable: Counting on walk-ons

On Sunday, Mark Richt announced that seven former walk-on players would receive a one-year scholarship for the coming school year. Cornerback Blake Sailors and running back Brandon Harton had received scholarships last year, and those were renewed by Richt. Fullback Merritt Hall, wide receiver Rhett McGowan, safety Connor Norman, linebacker Kosta Vavlas and cornerback Luis Capella were awarded scholarships for the first time. With only 71 players on scholarship, Richt had plenty of room to add walk-on players. With Georgia’s history of productive walk-ons, the question arises:

“Which of these former walk-on players will contribute the most this season?”

David Ching: It definitely looks to be Merritt Hall. He's the only member of that group who's occupying a starting position at the moment, so that kind of gives it away. Even if he does not start throughout the season, I expect him to contribute beyond a special teams role this season. You could probably say that about a few other players on this list -- McGowan, Norman and possibly Sailors jump out at me first -- but Hall seems to be the safest bet at this point.

Radi Nabulsi: As much as I like Hall, I am not sure he can hold off Richard Samuel and Quayvon Hicks. He very well may as I have heard nothing but good things about him. But no one will be replacing Sailors on special teams anytime soon.

Sailors is one of the fastest players on the team and does not hesitate to remind you of that fact if ever you forget. He plays the game with no thoughts of his personal well-being. He flies down the field on kickoffs like a heat-seeking missile and blows up returners before they can get started. Return teams have to account for him and when they are over-committed to stopping Sailors, Vavlas comes in behind him and blows up the return.

Georgia has had problems stopping the return game. Sailors and Vavlas will continue to lead the charge and make big plays that will affect the game’s outcome.

Kipp Adams The first walk-on that comes to mind is obviously fullback Merritt Hall, based solely on the fact that he is sitting atop the depth chart at the moment. There is a good chance he plays a lot of snaps at the position, so he should be the frontrunner as far as playing time goes.

In the multiple I-formation run by Georgia, the fullback is an integral park of the offense, with pass-blocking responsibilities, several plays that ask the fullback to be the lead blocker in the run game, and the ability to catch the dump pass and screens out of the backfield. Hall might not dominate the stat sheet anytime soon, but if he holds onto the starting gig for the entire year, he will be counted on big time this season.

NevadaDawgFan: I'm going to have to go with Merritt Hall. How can you not pick the fullback? It just sounds right, a walk-on coming in earning the starting fullback spot. Plus is it just me or does his name Merritt Hall just fit in that role with some of Georgia’s recent great fullbacks? Bruce Figgins, Sean Chapas, Brannan Southerland, JT Wall -- next up, Merritt Hall? Just seems like it’s meant to be.

Shanep512: I would have to say that honor has to go to Blake Sailors. He was one of my favorites last year because of his skills on special teams. I hope Georgia find ways to get him in games because he seems like a playmaker, even if it’s just on special teams. With his quickness I would like to see him on some kickoff return and punt-return situations. Maybe even on the field goal team as the holder -- just in case Georgia wanted to try a fake. Maybe I'm seeing things differently than most everyone else, but I think he can be an impact player.

clint_b11: By reading Mr. Ching's report on Blake Sailors in the countdown to kickoff, I'll go with him. Ching said he has played in every game over the past two seasons and I'd expect him to bet in on the most snaps out of this group. Missouri is sure to stretch Georgia five wide at several points during the Sept. 8 game. We could very well see some of these defensive backs in real-time action within the first game to just get them ready for what will be coming the week after.

GoDawgsSECchamps2005: Blake Sailors will contribute the most this year by being in on every special teams play in every game, plus he will spend some time at defensive back, especially with the loss of Sanders Commings for the first two games.

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