SEC: Brent Benedict
- Brad Locke of The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal writes that there could be some added tension to this year's SEC Media Days.
- Kentucky wide receivers coach Tee Martin still has fond memories of his "special" time as Tennessee's quarterback.
- Charles Goldberg of The Birmingham News writes that Auburn's calendar is beginning to fill up.
- Kristi Dosh over at The Business of College Sports has everything you ever wanted to know about Florida's finances.
- Former Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins is looking to rebuild his image at North Alabama.
- Georgia sophomore defensive end Derrick Lott is expected to miss four-to-six weeks after suffering a deep cut on his lower right leg in a scooter accident Tuesday.
- Brent Benedict says a dispute with Georgia strength and conditioning coordinator Joe Tereshinski played a part in his decision to leave Georgia and transfer to Virginia Tech.
- Former Georgia running back Caleb King is projected to be a late-round pick in the NFL's supplemental draft.
- South Carolina reserve wide receiver Bryce Sherman said on Twitter that he will not return to the Gamecocks' football team.
There was size, strength, experience, and most importantly, there was depth.
Now, as the season slowly draws near, the Bulldogs said goodbye to yet another lineman when redshirt freshman tackle Brent Benedict decided to leave the program Sunday for what coach Mark Richt said were personal reasons.
Benedict arrived at Georgia as a highly touted recruit, but he suffered a devastating knee injury during his season year of high school. Benedict not only tore his ACL but had nerve damage as well.
The injury cost Benedict his first season on campus, but he returned this spring expecting to push for time on Georgia's line. While Benedict had the potential to be a star for the Bulldogs, he struggled to move ahead in his playing progression this spring. He arrived as a tackle, but left spring as the backup right guard.
The 6-foot-5, 301-pound Benedict is the third offensive lineman that won't make it through the season for the Bulldogs. Senior tackle Trinton Sturdivant went down this spring after suffering his third ACL-related knee injury. Sturdivant, who started seven games last season, was battling converted guard Cordy Glenn for one of the tackle spots before his season-ending injury.
In May, junior tackle A.J. Harmon also transferred for personal reasons. Harmon competed for time at tackle during his first two years, playing in just seven career games.
The Bulldogs are left with a crippled offensive line. Heading into preseason, converted defensive lineman Justin Anderson is to start at right tackle opposite Glenn. Center Ben Jones is arguably the most reliable lineman the Bulldogs have, and Kenarious Gates, who started three games in 2010, is listed as the starting left guard. The young and inexperienced Chris Burnette is the starter at right guard.
Behind them, things don’t look much better. Offensive line coach Will Friend will have to accelerate the development of a handful of freshmen during preseason camp. One other option will be taking a look at moving Gates around to help with depth at tackle. This spring, Richt said that with Gates' athleticism, he could cross-train at tackle.
Kolton Houston and Dallas Lee are also options at guard, but Houston was a member of the scout team last season, while Lee played in just three games.
Sophomore Austin Long is listed as a tackle, but injuries have hurt his progression. Long had back surgery and missed the 2009 season. He was a member of the scout team last season and missed this spring after tearing a pectoral muscle in practice.
The Bulldogs signed six offensive linemen in the 2011 recruiting class and the staff will have to push these youngsters even more heading into the season. Three players that could come in and compete for time immediately are Watts Dantzler, Zach DeBell and Xzavier Ward, who are all expected to play tackle.
Even with the talent the Bulldogs possess on both sides of the ball, they are an offensive lineman injury away from having a rough 2011.
One interesting move is that redshirt freshman Ken Malcome is listed as the fourth-string tailback. Senior Caleb King is the starter, followed by Carlton Thomas and Brandon Harton. Malcome had a decent spring game, and though he dealt with injuries this spring, it seemed as though he was making strides. He was not the best option at the position, but his fall is a bit of a surprise.
Malcome could fall even farther down the pecking order after incoming freshman Isaiah Crowell gets on campus.
Where you can really see where the Bulldogs will have trouble is on the offensive line. Senior tackle Trinton Sturdivant went down this spring with his this third ACL-related injury, while junior A.J. Harmon transferred for personal reasons, leaving some holes to fill.
Senior Cordy Glenn took the spot at left tackle and will be backed up by redshirt freshman Hugh Williams. Sophomore Kenarious Gates is the starter at left guard, Ben Jones is at center, Chris Burnette is at right guard and Justin Anderson is at right tackle.
Redshirt freshman Brent Benedict has moved from tackle and is behind Burnette. Kolton Houston and Dallas Lee are both behind Gates and Austin Long is behind Anderson.
Staying healthy on the offensive line will be critical for the Bulldogs.
At wide receiver, junior Marlon Brown will start opposite flanker Tavarres King. Brown showed signs this spring that he's ready to be a major contributor to the offense and will need to take some pressure off of King, who should be quarterback Aaron Murray's primary target. Junior Rantavious Wooten is listed behind King.
The defense looks steady, especially up front.
Abry Jones, Kwame Geathers and DeAngelo Tyson are the three down linemen. Once junior college transfer John Jenkins arrives, the battle between him and Geathers for the noseguard spot should be exciting to follow.
Jarvis Jones is the starting Sam linebacker, Cornelius Washington is at Will, Christian Robinson is the Mike and Alec Ogletree is inside at the Mo. This is sure to be one of the fastest linebacker groups in the SEC.
The loss of Trinton Sturdivant, who is expected to miss the 2011 season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee this spring, put a dent in the Bulldogs‘ offensive line plans.
Both he and converted guard Cordy Glenn were rotating back and forth between the right and left tackle spots.
With Sturdivant gone, Glenn has assumed the starting role at left tackle, but right tackle and a backup for Glenn remains a bit of a mystery.
Wednesday, Richt threw out some names for both spots.
He said guard Justin Anderson and tackle A.J. Harmon are candidates for the right tackle spot. Both split reps there this spring. Tackle Austin Long is a candidate as well, but dealt with a shoulder injury this spring.
Richt said guard Kenarious Gates, who has been solid in the middle of the line this spring, is athletically gifted enough to play tackle if needed.
After that, it’s a bit unclear. Redshirt freshmen Brent Benedict and Kolton Houston will both get a shot. Benedict missed all of the 2010 season after suffering a severe right knee injury during his senior year of high school.
Georgia will also look to accelerate the development of incoming freshmen tackles Zach DeBell, Xzavier Ward and Watts Dantzler.
The key to figuring fall positions will be finding the correct fit at right tackle, Richt said.
“A lot of it’s going to depend on who is going to be the starting right tackle,“ Richt said. “My guess is whoever we think the third best tackle is he may end up having to cross train between the left side and the right side.”
Sunday, tests confirmed that Georgia senior offensive tackle Trinton Sturdivant suffered his third ACL-related, season-ending injury. His first two were in his left knee, but this one was in his right one.
Remember, this is a guy who was a freshman All-American in 2007 after starting all 13 games at left tackle for the Bulldogs.
He then tore the ACL in his left knee during a preseason scrimmage in 2008 and tore it again in the 2009 season opener.
For a guy who has given everything for his team, this is a devastating blow for not only Georgia but also his career.
Sturdivant, who started seven of the 12 games he played in during the 2010 season, considered forgoing his senior year to enter the 2011 NFL draft, but later decided to stay at Georgia for his final season.
It’s unknown if Sturdivant, who would be a fifth-year senior this fall, will petition the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility.
As for Georgia’s offensive line, this leaves a huge hole. The 6-foot-5, 312-pound Sturdivant was splitting time with converted guard Cordy Glenn at the left and right tackle positions.
Sturdivant’s injury leaves Glenn as the only Bulldog tackle with any real experience, and while Glenn did start four games at left tackle after Sturdivant went down in 2009, most of his experience has come at left and right guard.
Junior A.J. Harmon could be an option at tackle, but he’s played in just seven career games. Redshirt sophomore Austin Long and redshirt freshman Kolton Houston could be options at right tackle, should Glenn permanently move to left tackle. Redshirt freshman Brent Benedict, who missed all of the 2010 season after suffering a severe right knee injury during his senior year of high school, could also be an option to replace Sturdivant.
The low numbers at tackle mean the Bulldogs will have to immediately throw incoming freshmen tackles Zach DeBell, Xzavier Ward and Watts Dantzler into the fall practice rotation.
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
Georgia's 2010 signing class isn't bursting at the seams with numbers like Alabama, Florida and LSU, but it's hard to argue with the quality of prospects the Bulldogs are landing.
Brent Benedict, one of the top offensive tackle prospects in the country, is the latest highly rated player to commit to Georgia. He's also the second player Georgia has beaten Florida for in the last two weeks. Receiver Da'Rick Rogers of Calhoun, Ga., committed to the Bulldogs last week. Both are members of the ESPNU 150 Watch List.
The 6-foot-5, 280-pound Benedict is a freakish athlete for a guy his size and was recruited by all the powerhouses. He plays at the Bolles School in Jacksonville, Fla., and is used to facing strong competition.
Georgia offensive line coach Stacy Searels was a big factor in Benedict's decision, and judging by some of the young talent already in the program and on the way, the Bulldogs' offensive line the next few years should be the strength of the team.
Benedict isn't the first member from his family to be a highly rated football prospect. His older brother, Heath Benedict, signed with Tennessee out of school and later wound up at Newberry, where he became an All-American and NFL draft prospect.
Sadly, Heath died suddenly in March 2008 from an irregular heartbeat caused by an enlarged heart. The draft was only about a month away.
I covered the Senior Bowl that year in January, and Heath was the only Division II player there. I had a chance to sit down and talk with him in Mobile, and he was so eager to prove that he belonged.
The other thing that stuck out to me was how proud he was of his brother. I remember him telling me to watch out for Brent and that he was going to be one of the top prospects in the country.
I know Heath would be just as proud if he were still here today.