ATHENS, Ga. -- As far as Mark Richt is concerned, it’s no more difficult for Georgia to bring in 13 early enrollees this year than it was when the Bulldogs previously had four or five newcomers join the team in a typical January.
Richt is just glad they are in Athens and ready to start spring semester classes at UGA today.
“I don’t know if it’s going to be all that different having five of them or 15 of them come in,” Richt said. “They’re all just going to start going to class and get into the offseason and start learning what to do.”
Without question, Richt’s staff needs the baker’s dozen of new Bulldogs to learn what to do as quickly as possible. The Bulldogs are in an extremely stable position on offense -- particularly with quarterback Aaron Murray’s announcement on Sunday that he will return for a fourth season as the Bulldogs’ starter -- but the defense will be in the exact opposite position.
The Bulldogs lose 11 players off their two-deep defensive depth chart -- a number that could grow to 12 if junior nose guard Kwame Geathers decides to enter the NFL draft -- so spring practice will be essential for solidifying new roles and developing depth on defense.
That’s why having eight defensive newcomers -- safeties Tray Matthews and Quincy Mauger, cornerbacks Reggie Wilkerson and J.J. Green, linebackers Ryne Rankin, Reggie Carter and defensive linemen John Atkins and Chris Mayes -- on campus this spring and summer will be so valuable.
“I have been working for this chance for years. I can’t wait to be enrolled and move in with my teammates,” Rankin said. “Going through spring camp will give me a better chance to earn a starting spot.”
Matthews. a U.S. Army All-American, agreed, saying in December, “I can’t believe I will be up there next month. I can’t wait to get started.”
Of the five scholarship quarterbacks on Georgia’s roster, newcomer Brice Ramsey will be the fourth to enroll in January. Following Murray’s announcement, the Under Armour All-American is almost guaranteed to redshirt, although he said Georgia’s coaches never made any promises one way or the other.
“They just said come in ready to work,” Ramsey said. “They didn’t really give me a definite answer on redshirting or not redshirting. They said come in ready to work and bust your behind.”
Terry, another Under Armour All-American, suffered a torn ACL during a high school all-star game three weeks ago. Terry had surgery on the injured knee in Athens on Friday and tweeted Saturday that Georgia’s director of sports medicine Ron Courson told him that he was “movin around the best he has ever seen for my first day out surgery [and] my quads look really good.”