Should they stay or should they go…

Here’s a quick hitter from ESPN on early departures from the SEC East.

Teams hit hardest: Florida, Tennessee

These two are the only teams in the SEC East that are losing multiple underclassmen to the 2017 NFL draft. Florida was hit with five departures, including four on defense: linebacker Alex Anzalone, defensive tackle Caleb Brantley and cornerbacks Teez Tabor and Quincy Wilson (offensive tackle David Sharpe was the fifth departure and lone offensive player to declare for early entry). That’s a lot of talent on defense to lose — Brantley, Tabor and Wilson are all projected first-round picks based on Todd McShay’s rankings. Tennessee lost three: its best defensive player (defensive end Derek Barnett), its leading receiver (Josh Malone) and its all-purpose yardage leader (running back Alvin Kamara). Barnett will be the hardest to replace, with 32.5 sacks over the last three seasons (best in the nation) but all three were productive for the Volunteers.

Most fortunate team: Georgia

The Bulldogs got some huge news when running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel opted to return for their senior seasons. These days, running back draft prospects often leave early — because too many carries can adversely affect one’s draft stock — but Chubb and Michel bucked that trend and Georgia’s offense will reap the benefits in 2017. Linebackers Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy and safety Dominick Sanders also said they’re returning, so the Bulldogs made out pretty well, with receiver Isaiah McKenzie being the only key underclassman to declare.

Biggest surprise: Three running backs staying in school

It’s a strong draft class for running backs but to see three of them — Chubb, Michel and Vanderbilt’s Ralph Webb — decide to come back was a bit of a surprise. Chubb and Michel were especially surprising given their past injuries and Chubb even admitted he considered leaving because of the uncertainty that lingers mentally after his 2015 knee injury. Webb has more carries than any other SEC running back over the last three seasons (739). Their teams certainly welcome them back with open arms, and they’ll be key parts of any success the Bulldogs or Commodores have in 2017. Kamara (Tennessee) and Stanley “Boom” Williams (Kentucky) were the two key SEC East running backs who decided to declare for early entry.

Bottom line:  it’s a big gap closer for Georgia.  No, it’s not everything, but that plus recruiting should make for an interesting reordering of talent in the division over the next couple of seasons.



Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football

10 responses to “Should they stay or should they go…

  1. Spike

    Best news I’ve had all day.


  2. Snoop Dawgy Dawg

    On Aug. 1, UGA will have the most talented roster in the East, a sophomore quarterback, two best running backs in the conference, experienced and talented front 7, depth in the front 7, receivers who can get open, a secondary that returns everyone.

    The question mark is offensive line, but there is no small amount of talent returning and arriving.

    Any commentator calling the 2017 season a throwaway season or gives any argument for why the expectation is anything other than winning the SEC East, should be forever banned from providing “analysis.”


    • dawgman3000

      Agreed, the east should be ours for the taking.


    • Otto

      Agreed, this is with in reach. However it also remind me ’08 skill players returning but OL turnover. OL is major area to deal with turnover and LT was not the brightest spot this year.

      I am hopeful for the future and expect improvement but ’18 is the year that must be a leap forward.


      • Otto

        *reminds me of.

        I should really write a complete response without stopping to do something else


      • Snoop Dawgy Dawg

        well, in ’08, we lost ole Sturdivant to the knee injury and he never played again.

        that team wasn’t nearly as bad as our memories of it make it. We ran into a buzz saw against Bama and UF. UF had our game circled all year and Urban had Tebow and was/is a better coach. We had a slew of injuries.

        it was a quintessential year for Mark Richt. High expectations. Injuries at key positions and a team that just couldn’t quite live up to them.

        ’08 was like 13. We were dropping players right and left for things. The thing that has been amazing to me for Saban’s run and Clemson(of late) is how danged injury free they are typically. Bo Scarborough going down in the title game is the first Bama running back I can remember them losing in the last 10 years. They’ve had a remarkable run at QB, RB, and offensive line where their guys just don’t get hurt.

        Richt was the opposite. We’d finally have a generational talent at a key position and they would get suspended or injured; i.e. Green, A.J., Chubb, Nick, Gurley, Todd, Sturdivant, Trenton.

        personally, my thoughts are the Georgia way and unlucky injuries cost Richt his job above all else.


        • Otto

          I am not looking to get into another Richt debate, the primary point is depending on a OL that wasn’t dominant the year before and has turnover can be tricky. Further UGA is in year 2 of a new staff so improvement is expected but it isn’t enough time to expect the world. Fans are expecting 2012 but I don’t think they’re quite there yet.


  3. W Cobb Dawg

    “…next couple of seasons.”

    2017 should be our year. But as has been the case for years, the division is ours to lose. Problem is, we keep finding ways to lose it.


  4. Macallanlover

    “huge gap closer”, FIFY

    UGA looks head and heels stronger than anyone else in the East for 2017, and possibly could be good enough by December to compete with the West winner (if Chaney will stay out of the way, or step down to take a staff position.) I think Bellamy may be the biggest surprise contributor of those who chose to return. His play was understated by the media, imo. Look for him to make his own case in 2017 and significantly improve his draft status. Along with a motivated Lorenzo back in a “contract year”, I feel we will be much improved on defense.