NCF Nation: Aron White

Justin Hunter and Da'Rick RogersAP Photo/Wade PayneJustin Hunter (11) and Da'Rick Rogers (21) are considered to be the best receiving duo in the SEC.
Our SEC position rankings continue with a look at schools' wide receiver and tight end groups.

Past rankings:
On to the league's wide receiver/tight end groups:

1. Tennessee: The Vols are equipped with two of the top wideouts in the league with Da'Rick Rogers, who was second in the SEC in receiving last year, and Justin Hunter, who might be the SEC's top deep threat. It sounds like Hunter will be 100 percent this fall after his ACL injury last year. Junior college transfer Cordarrelle Patterson is big, fast and possesses the big-play gene. The speedy Zach Rogers is back and is so is talented tight end Mychal Rivera.

2. Arkansas: Cobi Hamilton is now Arkansas' primary receiver, and he might be the league's most complete wideout. He can make the big-play and elude defenders along the way. While Marquel Wade's status is still unclear, if he does return, he'll be a major lift for this offense because of his playmaking ability in the slot. Julian Horton and Javontee Herndon have always impressed coaches in practice and now will get their chances to in games. Tight end Chris Gragg should be even more involved and is the league's top tight end.

3. Georgia: While Malcolm Mitchell could go back and forth between receiver and corner, when he's at receiver he's Georgia's top offensive threat and was one of the league's best as a rookie. There are vets behind him, starting with reliable senior Tavarres King, who had a very good spring, senior Marlon Brown, who seemed to take a big step in his game this spring. Sophomores Michael Bennett and Chris Conley combined for 48 catches for 608 yards and seven touchdowns last year. Unproven tight ends Arthur Lynch and Jay Rome will replace Orson Charles and Aron White.

4. Texas A&M: This isn't the fastest group out there, but there are some pretty reliable weapons, starting with star Ryan Swope, who could have left for the NFL after catching 89 passes for 1,207 yards and 11 touchdowns last year. Uzoma Nwachukwu was third on the team with 50 catches for 639 yards and three tight ends -- Nehemiah Hicks, Michael Lamothe and Hutson Prioleau -- return. Keep an eye on junior Nate Askew, who could be a downfield threat this fall.

5. LSU: Odell Beckham Jr. was one of the top rookies last year and could be even better in Year 2. He'll be joined by potential deep threat and big-play target Jarvis Landry, who developed some good chemistry with quarterback Zach Mettenberger this spring. Russell Shepard is talented, but he's been wildly inconsistent. Keep an eye on junior James Wright and incoming frosh Avery Johnson, who is the younger brother of Patrick Peterson. Also, tight end Chase Clement is on the John Mackey watch list.

[+] EnlargeJordan Matthews
Don McPeak/US PresswireWide receiver Jordan Matthews is one player the Commodores will be counting on this fall.
6. Vanderbilt: This group surprised last year and returns most of its components, starting with Jordan Matthews, who was fourth in the SEC in receiving last year. Sophomore Chris Boyd was solid last year, hauling in 31 catches and eight touchdowns. Jonathan Krause is very good in space and should see his role increase this fall after a solid spring. The coaches are excited about former QB Josh Grady moving to receiver. Replacing tight end Brandon Barden won't be easy.

7. Alabama: There is more speed out wide in Tuscaloosa, but there's a lot more youth. The Tide could turn to freshmen Chris Black, Amari Cooper and Eddie Williams to help develop a more downfield passing game. More will be expected from veterans Kenny Bell and Kevin Norwood, while sophomore DeAndrew White possesses a ton of speed. Still no word on Duron Carter. Tight end Michael Williams was solid last year, but will be used even more this fall.

8. Mississippi State: There is a lot of experience here, but this group has still underperformed at times, especially senior Chad Bumphis, who has yet to live up to all the hype that followed him from high school. Seniors Chris Smith and Arceto Clark combined for 65 catches last year, while the staff is very excited about the big-play potential redshirt freshman Joe Morrow possesses. Tight end Malcolm Johnson serves as a very reliable tight end target, as well.

9. Missouri: The Tigers lost two starting receivers and stud tight end Michael Egnew, but three of the top five pass catchers are back, including inside threat T.J. Moe, who led Mizzou in receiving last year. Big things are expected from Marcus Lucas, who can stretch the field with his speed and physicality, and the coaches think L'Damian Washington can also be a downfield threat. Also, Dorial Green-Beckham, last year's top recruit, should make an immediate impact. Eric Waters is replacing Egnew, but has just two career catches and suffered a knee injury this spring.

10. Auburn: Emory Blake is one of the league's top downfield threats and has been one of Auburn's most consistent offensive weapons. So has tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen, who should be more of a passing threat with the addition of transfer fullback Jay Prosch. There is a lot of depth, but it's unproven. Trovon Reed was supposed to be a star, but had a lackluster second year. Seniors Travante Stallworth and DeAngelo Benton have 15 and 14 career catches, respectively. Quan Bray has shown potential and could have a bigger role this season and keep an eye on freshman Ricardo Louis.

11. Florida: The Gators have struggled here since 2009 and still lack proven playmakers. Andre Debose is probably the best bet to be one, but he's been very inconsistent. Quinton Dunbar has the speed to be an outside threat, but caught just 14 passes last year. And the coaches are still waiting for senior Frankie Hammond Jr. to turn things up. True freshman Latroy Pittman had a great spring and the coaches are excited about his potential. Tight end Jordan Reed is one of the most athletic players in the league and will be a bigger target with two young quarterbacks throwing the ball.

12. South Carolina: Now that Alshon Jeffery is gone, the Gamecocks have questions and inexperience here. The fast, athletic Ace Sanders is the only returning pass catcher with at least 20 catches from last year (29). The hope is Bruce Ellington will be more of a factor this fall. Tight ends Justice Cunningham and Rory Anderson combined for 26 catches and four touchdowns. Damiere Byrd has blazing speed, but caught just one pass last year. DeAngelo Smith had a solid spring, and the coaches hope he can be a downfield threat. A lot will be expected from incoming freshman Shaq Roland.

13. Ole Miss: Sophomore Donte Moncrief is a budding star in this league and thinks he'll be even better in Hugh Freeze's spread offense. Ja-Mes Logan caught 20 passes last year, but had a very good spring. But Nickolas Brassell was an academic casualty and Randall Mackey had to move over from quarterback. The coaches are looking for consistency from Terrell Grant and Vince Sanders, who are both pretty unproven. Tight end Jamal Mosley is expected to do more in the spread and averaged 13.8 yards per catch last year.

14. Kentucky: Joker Phillips' goal this spring was to find more playmakers and he thinks he did with sophomore Demarco Robinson, who had five receptions last year, and redshirt freshman Daryl Collins. The hope is that they'll take some pressure off of La'Rod King, who is really the only proven receiving threat on the team. Tight ends Ronnie Shields and Tyler Robinson did well this spring, but combined for just 10 catches last year.

Georgia responds after mistakes

December, 3, 2011
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ATLANTA -- The big-game jitters must have gotten to LSU and Georgia.

The first quarter was full of mistakes on both sides. Georgia's might have cost the Bulldogs a three-score lead over LSU.

There were a handful of drops by Georgia receivers, including two sure touchdowns, that caused some not-so-happy reactions from quarterback Aaron Murray, who has commanded the pocket well against this LSU defense.

Georgia responded well with a 44-yard drive that Murray beautifully orchestrated. He ended things with a 12-yard strike to tight end Aron White to make it 10-0 Bulldogs.

LSU's offense hasn't done much of anything, so far. A few drops of their own cost the Tigers as well. A couple of them came on potential first-down plays. Then there were costly penalties that backed up the Tigers. A holding penalty cost LSU its only first down of the half on a nice run by quarterback Jordan Jefferson.

Together, both teams have combined for seven penalties, so far. But Georgia has a 10-0 lead and is dominating LSU in the yards game with 134 to LSU's 11. This Georgia defense has loaded the box and stuffed LSU thus far.

Georgia cruises closer to East title

November, 12, 2011
11/12/11
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ATHENS, Ga. -- Despite the enormously inviting rendition of “Sweet Caroline” played by Georgia’s band in the third quarter, the Bulldogs were far from courteous hosts to Auburn.

Georgia scored on its first drive and never looked back, smacking Auburn around on its way to a 45-7 victory on “Must-win Saturday.”

Aaron Murray lit up Auburn’s secondary for 224 yards and four touchdowns, the Bulldogs pounded out 304 rushing yards -- getting two 100-yard rushers for the first time in a game since the 2009 against Georgia Tech -- and Georgia’s defense left the Tigers battered and bruised. The Bulldogs had a handful of bone-ratting hits and had Auburn’s running game stuck in reverse.

Georgia’s commanding win showed how good it can be, and should have been all season. Georgia could have frozen after seeing South Carolina’s 17-12 win over Florida, but the Bulldogs popped Auburn right in the mouth.

Georgia converted 12-of-15 third-down attempts on offense and had the ball 20 minutes more than Auburn.

This was as dominating a performance as we’ve seen from the Bulldogs against an SEC opponent since their 27-13 win over Ole Miss back in September.

While it’s yet to be seen if Georgia or South Carolina could actually hold up against LSU or Alabama, the Bulldogs have improved each week since losing to the Gamecocks and look like the best the East has to offer.

[+] EnlargeIsaiah Crowell
Dale Zanine/US PresswireIsaiah Crowell rushed 24 times for 132 yards and a touchdown -- one of two Bulldogs to go over 100 yards in the win against Auburn.
It might not mean much to most, but it means everything to the Bulldogs, who are now a win away from playing for the SEC championship in Atlanta.

“We control our own destiny and we controlled it this week and we came out and performed,” tight end Aron White said.“We’re finally starting to put the pieces of the puzzles together, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. We really came out and made physical statement today. That was something we planned on doing and we came and fulfilled our game plan.”

Short of Georgia’s win over Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl after the 2007 season, White said Saturday was the most complete game he’s been in at Georgia.

Safety Bacarri Rambo marveled at how the defense suffocated Auburn, and admitted he knew the Bulldogs would shut out the Tigers following a score on the Tigers' opening drive. He praised the lack of special teams errors and applauded the offense for driving down the field and consistently getting touchdowns, not field goals.

“That’s what we were missing,” Rambo said. “We’re improving every week and the sky’s the limit for this team.”

Georgia has been to hell and back this season. Coach Mark Richt started the year with embers strapped to his seat and had to endure the scorching feeling they produced after an 0-2 start.

Counted out from the beginning, players never toyed with doubt, and are cruising through an eight-game winning streak that has them atop the SEC East.

Like the 2007 season, Georgia is playing its best football at the right time.

Some will point to Georgia’s softer conference schedule as a reason for its resurgence, but there is no denying Georgia has improved week-to-week and is as hot as ever.

“Man, I don’t care who you are, if you’re playing in the SEC that’s not an SEC schedule,” White said. “This is the first time we’ve won against a ranked opponent this year, but there’s always talent in the SEC. Maybe, if those teams were in another conference we’d be saying how good they are.

“We had just as tough a schedule as anybody, in my opinion. Hopefully, we can get into a game where we can play another team in the West and we can prove ourselves again.”

Georgia more than proved itself Saturday. The atmosphere was electric as fans dressed in red and black roared as their team huddled below the stands minutes before kickoff. You got the feeling that a pretty good team was going to take the field.

Georgia charged out onto the field and completely overwhelmed its best opponent since South Carolina.

This team is prepared for more criticism and disapproval, but it doesn’t care. Georgia’s schedule is what it is, and the Bulldogs have won the games they were supposed to.

We have found the East’s top team and a win next week over Kentucky will cement it.

“We’re coming along well,” linebacker Jarvis Jones said. “We’ve been through a lot this season -- started 0-2. We just kept our focus and we’ve been fighting and clawing. We come into every game like we’re 0-2. We remind ourselves of where we came from and keep fighting.”

Video: Georgia TE Aron White

November, 12, 2011
11/12/11
9:25
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ESPN.com SEC blogger Edward Aschoff talks with Georgia tight end Aron White.
ATHENS, Ga. -- The thought of relaxing never crossed Mark Richt’s brain after he watched his team slip into the driver’s seat of the SEC East.

Even after Arkansas’ 44-28 win over South Carolina Saturday put destiny into Georgia’s hands, the Bulldogs’ coach, who was surrounded by vitriol after an 0-2 start, went right to work. His brain switched from pig sooie to War Eagle, as he began preparation for the 15th-ranked Bulldogs’ game with No. 20 Auburn (6-3, 4-2).

A Georgia win and a South Carolina loss would give Georgia the division.

He was excited when he saw then-East-leading South Carolina lose, pushing Georgia (7-2, 5-1) to the top of the division, but he understood that all the pressure was now on him.

[+] EnlargeMark Richt
AP Photo/Wade PayneMark Richt has overcome an 0-2 start, and the Bulldogs control their own destiny in the SEC East.
“Before we really didn't have control, and we could only control trying to keep pace,” Richt said after meticulously laying out almost every detail concerning Auburn’s team. “Now that we have control of our destiny I would say that's even more of a reason to heighten your work ethic and prepare maybe even a little harder."

After losses to Boise State and South Carolina to open the season, it was easy to write Georgia and Richt off. He and the Dawgs hadn’t made it to the SEC title game since 2005 and were fresh off a disastrous 6-7 season.

To say Richt’s seat in Athens was hot was a grave understatement. It was nearly engulfed in flames after that 45-42 loss to the Gamecocks in Week 2.

While hope might have been lost on the peripheral, confidence was still there inside the program. Richt felt it and his players felt it.

Former Georgia coach and athletic director Vince Dooley felt it, too. He acknowledged being beaten by a better Boise State team and the myriad of mistakes that cost the Bulldogs against South Carolina, adding that Georgia “outplayed” the Gamecocks. But he expected a rebound.

“I said early on that I felt like [Richt] was going to be OK,” Dooley said shortly after accompanying Richt for his weekly press conference.

“I really felt like the team would do good and they’ve done good.”

For Richt, getting this team back on track was all about reinforcing the chemistry constructed during the offseason. He wanted to build togetherness and a family. You handle adversity with trust, but he wasn’t going to be sure what his team was made of until it was challenged.

“You never know for sure until it hits you in the mouth how you are going to react,” Richt said. “I wasn't shocked that they guys reacted in a real positive way.

“There wasn't a whole lot of 'woe is me' in there, it was more of 'If we get our act together, we can be really good.'"

Quarterback Aaron Murray said this team never caved because it understood that the SEC wasn’t going to be won after two weeks.

“We knew we still had a chance when we went 0-2 and people were like, ‘Oh, the season’s over with,’” Murray said. “We have great leadership on this team and guys were like, ‘Hey, this is the SEC.’ South Carolina has never gone a season without losing at least three SEC games, so we’re like, ‘Hey, just because we’re one behind them, you never know what could happen.’”

Even with all the negativity hurled his way, Richt said he turned to his faith and let his life away from football navigate him.

“I love my job. I love Georgia. But what I do is not who I am,” he said. “Sometimes if we become what we do, and then things aren't going just right, then all of a sudden our entire world falls apart. I've got a faith in my Lord and savior Jesus Christ, and I know that God loves me and is going to take care of me.”

Richt might have stayed mellow, but his players understood what was possibly at stake. Tight end Aron White said the team took Richt’s criticisms to heart and didn’t want to be the reason he was shown the door.

“No one wanted to be that team at Georgia that ended the Mark Richt era,” he said. “That’s not the legacy that we wanted to leave at all. We’ve definitely been playing our hearts out for him this year and he’s been coaching his heart out for us.

“We don’t want to see him go and I don’t think anyone in the Bulldog Nation wants to anymore. That was something we never questioned. We were always playing for Coach Richt.”

Halftime: Georgia 24, Ole Miss 13

September, 24, 2011
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One minute, Georgia has looked like it's had this game with Ole Miss wrapped up, but the next, the Rebels come right back.

The Bulldogs jumped out to an early 17-0 lead in Oxford, but thanks to some nifty trick plays, Ole Miss has crawled back into this one.

The Rebels' first bit of trickery came when what started as a reverse turned into a 38-yard pass from quarterback Randall Mackey, who replaced starter Zack Stoudt, to Donte Moncrief to make it 17-7.

Ole Miss then caught the Bulldogs off guard with a nice onside kick, but moments after it looked like the Rebels had a major momentum shift go their way as Mackey tossed a pass right into Georgia safety Bacarri Rambo's hands. Three plays later, quarterback Aaron Murray hit tight end Aron White for a 35-yard touchdown, in which White bounced right off a poor attempt of a tackle by an Ole Miss defender.

As the crowd shrank back to a whisper, the Rebels used yet another trick to get back in when Jeff Scott handed his punt return off to Nickolas Brassell for an 81-yard touchdown. Naturally, the extra point was botched and Ole Miss trails 24-13.

Georgia's receivers are dropping passes like crazy out there on the field and that has to be driving Murray nuts. He has 158 yards and two touchdowns, but his numbers should be much better.

I say hand the ball off to Isaiah Crowell more. He has 14 carries for 92 yards and was trending on Twitter earlier today.

As for Ole Miss, the defense must tighten up and get back to tackling fundamentals. And the running game needs to arrive. The Rebels have carried the ball 18 times for 18 yards. That won't win you games in this league.

Exiting the spring: Georgia

April, 15, 2011
4/15/11
10:00
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Spring game: 1 p.m. ET on ESPN3.com

Questions answered: Aaron Murray’s soccer-related ankle injury didn’t get to him this spring. He was sharp and pain free. No worries there. Also, good news came out of the receiving corps where Tavarres King made strides to become the go-to-guy for Murray. He’s replacing A.J. Green at the flanker and held his own during spring practices. Jarvis Jones also eased minds about Justin Houston’s old position at the hybrid outside linebacker/defense end spot. He’s showed that he might have a little bit more athleticism and speed for the position.

Questions unanswered: The running game still remains a mystery. Senior Caleb King stepped up, but didn’t really separate himself from the pack. Washaun Ealey, who returned from a suspension this spring, suffered a hamstring injury late and hasn’t returned to full speed. Carlton Thomas and Ken Malcome made plays, but like the other two, they aren’t consistently standing out. The offensive line still appears to be a bit of a trouble spot since losing Trinton Sturdivant at left tackle. Converted guard Cordy Glenn is expected to take over at left tackle, while Justin Anderson could play right tackle. Sophomores Kenarious Gates and Chris Burnette are working with the first team at the guard positions. Inconsistency plagued the safety positions last season for the Bulldogs and injuries there this spring didn’t do much to clear that up.

Spring stars: Defensive end Derrick Lott received a lot of praise from players and coaches this spring. He will be relied upon to be a major contributor for this defense. While the wide receiver position is still a bit of an unknown, Marlon Brown has performed well this spring. He’s underachieved since arriving on campus, but drew high praise for his work this spring. Outside linebacker Cornelius Washington also made some strides this spring, especially with his ability to make big hits on defense. Freshman quarterback Christian LeMay won’t usurp Murray, but he’s impressed his coaches so far.

Of note: Christian Robinson is making the move over to mike linebacker. Safeties Bacarri Rambo (MCL sprain), Jakar Hamilton (concussion) and Marc Deas (hamstring) are all out. … Linebackers Dexter Morant (shoulder) and T.J. Stripling (knee) will be held out of spring practice. … Sanders Commings moved from cornerback to safety. … Safety Alec Ogletree moved to outside linebacker. Cornerback Brandon Boykin, linebacker Christian Robinson, wide receiver Israel Troupe and tight end Aron White could be out for Saturday’s game with injuries.

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