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July 4, 2007

Big Questions: No. 1, Starting Linebackers

Well, it looks like the first in our ten questions surrounding the Georgia Bulldogs heading into the 2007 season was not difficult enough as nearly everybody answered the same way.

All three of the UGASports.com staff members as well as the two guest media panelists answer the same way while 59% of fans agreed as well. The starting linebackers will be Brandon Miller, Darius Dewberry, and Dannell Ellerbe.

Question No. 1: If everyone is healthy through fall camp, who will be the starting linebackers for game one?

Steve Patterson
UGASports.com Publisher
There is little doubt in my mind that Darius Dewberry, Brandon Miller, and Dannell Ellerbe will be the starters heading into the season if all three are healthy. While the jury is still out on how well Miller has made the move from Sam to Mike, spring camp appeared to go well for him and the coaching staff seemed pleased with his progress.

Ellerbe might be the best linebacker on the team, but he has had to look up the depth chart at other payers through most of his career. He has played both inside and outside, and was pegged to take over for Tony Taylor at Mike this past spring, but Miller's move from Sam ended all of that talk.

The guy that faces the most competition is Dewberry at Sam. He was displaced in spring camp by redshirt freshman Akeem Dent, but in the end moved back to the first team.

Chad Simmons
UGASports.com Recruiting Editor

If all linebackers enter the Oklahoma State game healthy, then I expect Darius Dewberry and Dannell Ellerbe to be starting on the outside and senior Brandon Miller controlling the middle. Akeem Dent could make a push as well, but I think his broken foot kept him out of a lot of the summer workouts, so that gave Ellerbe and Dewberry a leg up.

Overall, I expect this Georgia group of linebackers to fly around this year and show more speed and lateral movement than those in the past. The Dawgs had solid players on the second level of defense in recent years, but the group they have now has speed to burn and I expect them to turn things up a notch.

Kelly Quinlan
UGASports.com Staff Writer

I think there will only be one spot up for grabs in fall camp, the SAM linebacker. Miller is a great athlete and with some more reps he should become a solid middle linebacker. Dannell Ellerbe has always had great potential and at times he shown the ability to make plays. Both of them also played significantly last year and in at least one prior season.

Experience is something they need at linebacker because Georgia plays a gap-control defense, which is all about positioning yourself to make plays.

I think Ellerbe and Miller are experienced and talented enough to hold off the two freshman (Curran and White) as well as Washington and Gamble, so it will come down the strong-side. Dewberry played sparingly last year there, but he almost beat out Miller and Danny Verdun last year at that position. Dent had a great spring, but he was unimpressive on G-Day and he has never played in a game.

I expect to see a bit of a platoon there in fall camp and then for Dewberry to step up and become the starter by September 1.

Guest media panelist - If everyone is healthy through fall camp, who will be the starting linebackers for game one?

Jeff Dantzler
960 The Ref & Various UGA play calling on the radio
Dewberry, Miller and Ellerbe, but keep an eye on Dent I think the experience is what sets them apart...This is an area where Georgia needs improvement. These players were all very highly recruited, the Dogs need to see the production this season.

David Ching
Columbus Ledger-Enquirer
This is a tough question to answer with much confidence given the level of inexperience most of these guys will bring into camp.

It's safe to assume Brandon Miller is the starter in the middle, and I think he's going to do well there. But all bets are off after that.

My assumption is that Dannell Ellerbe and Darius Dewberry will start the opener at Will and Sam, respectively, because they have a little more on-field experience than their competition. I've heard really good things about redshirt freshmen Akeem Dent and Darryl Gamble, though -- especially Dent. It wouldn't surprise me to see some younger guys steal some playing time as the season wears on.

We may even see Rennie Curran get some on-field time as a true freshman. But given the quality of the offenses they'll face early, my guess is that Georgia's coaches will decide to succeed or fail with linebackers who've been on the field before.

The fans speak out! - How Georgia fans voted on The Dawgvent


(Note: Dewberry, Miller, and Ellerbe are listed as either WMS or SMW)

DawgTrader
It would be helpful if we knew more about the status of Washington's knee. I didn't vote him as a starter, but it seems there are very few still holding out hope for MW to be an impact player. In HS he looked like a big man with very good speed and good tackling form to me. Has that perception changed at the collegiate level, or is it just his current injury status that earned him such a low ranking?

KIERSTEN
S-Mountain Dew
M-BM or will be better known as Big Mack (truck)
W-Ellerbe
Rotating in - that man will put a Dent in yo head, don't Gamble and run his way, that guy is as big as Washington in the middle, he is the most Currant Bad Arse on the team especially on special teams, rounding off what will end up one of the best LB groups ever!



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