Opening preseason camp: Georgia

August, 1, 2012
8/01/12
2:30
PM ET
Schedule: The Bulldogs' first practice is on Thursday, and their first day in pads on Aug. 6. They open the season on Sept. 1 at home against Buffalo.

Returning starters: Six on offense and 10 on defense.

Star power: Linebacker Jarvis Jones became an instant celebrity during his first year in the SEC in 2011, as he led the conference in tackles for loss (19.5) and sacks (13.5)

New faces: With the loss of running back Isaiah Crowell, incoming freshman Todd Gurley will be counted on a lot more during preseason camp. It looks like the Bulldogs will have a running game by committee again. Freshman offensive lineman John Theus arrives with a chance to battle for a starting role this fall and linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons could get a chance to play multiple positions, including receiver, for the Bulldogs this fall.

Don’t forget about: Senior wide receiver Marlon Brown arrived years ago with a ton of hype attached to his name. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, he never really reached his potential. But this spring his coaches and teammates were more impressed than ever with Brown's play. He seemed to take a major step in his game and with Malcolm Mitchell getting time at cornerback, Brown will be relied more than ever this fall.

Big shoes to fill: Longtime starting center Ben Jones is gone and that means the construction of Georgia's line could rely on new center David Andrews. The sophomore came out of spring as the starter in the middle, but he was far from perfect during practice. If he can't hold his job that could mean the Bulldogs have to do even more reshuffling with the offensive line, starting with Chris Burnette moving from right guard to center. More movement on an offensive line that wreaks of inexperience is something the staff doesn't want because it could set the offense back.

Key battles: Even if Crowell was on the team, the Bulldogs would still have a pretty exciting battle at running back. Gurley joins true freshman Keith Marshall, senior Richard Samuel, who moved back from fullback, and sophomore Ken Malcome. Georgia would like to find one back to rely on, but none of these players has proved he can be that guy. Also, with Mitchell getting time at corner, Georgia will be looking to find someone to complement Tavarres King. Outside of Brown, there are a slew of players, including Michael Bennett, Chris Conley and Rantavious Wooten, who will be vying for time this fall.

Rising star: Marshall has received a lot of attention since he arrived in Athens this spring, but there's another youngster to keep an eye on in fall camp: redshirt freshman wide receiver Justin Scott-Wesley. He sat out last season, but came alive this spring. He's a track star and is extremely athletic. Quarterback Aaron Murray said during the spring that Scott-Wesley has true big-play potential and should get plenty of chances to show his stuff this fall.

Bottom line: The Bulldogs return just about everyone who helped them go to the SEC championship game for the first time since 2005. They were picked to win the SEC Eastern Division at media days and they should begin the season as a top-10 team. However, off-field issues this spring will likely have four key defensive starters out for the first part of the season and Crowell is now at Alabama State. Overall, Georgia has the talent to make an SEC title run, and maybe more, but will these distractions and the hype be too much for the Dawgs?

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