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July 27, 2011
What freshmen are standing out?
It's a question it seems everybody in the Bulldog Nation wants answers for - which of the freshmen will be able to make an impact with Georgia this fall?
Although much of the chatter comes from fans, Christian Robinson said Wednesday that they're not the only ones.
"We're (veteran players) are the same way. But it's about showing me. You can be Mr. Everything but when you come in here, if you don't live up to what you're supposed to, we're going to find someone else who can," Robinson said. "If you're not making plays, not doing your job, the coach and the players are going to want people who are going to make those plays."
Don't get Robinson wrong.
By no means is he saying Georgia's "Dream Team" class of 2011 won't be able to make immediate contributions.
That's not the case at all. During a session with beat writers at the Butts-Mehre Building, one name kept coming up time and time again - Malcolm Mitchell.
Last week at SEC Media Days, quarterback Aaron Murray raised a few eyebrows when he claimed the Valdosta freshman could start for "any team in the country."
"Malcolm is a tremendous athlete. He can do a lot of different things," King said. "One day (during 7-on-7 drills) he was torching them. He's going to help this football team."
"He's explosive, plus he's willing to work," added Charles.
Robinson went even further than that.
"I love A.J. (Green) but A.J. could never stop like that," Robinson said. "A.J. has got that quickness and speed, but I've never seen the feet that (Mitchell) has and the separation he can achieve with his routes."
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said he won't be scared to play any freshman that show they're ready to contribute.
He's not ruling anybody out.
"I don't care what the depth chart says. If the guy shows that he can make plays, he'll play; that's my philosophy with freshmen," Bobo said. "Whether the right plays are on special teams, play three or four and two or three snaps, I think you play them because then when they have the opportunity to play (on offense or defense) it will not be a shock to them."
King concedes Scott-Wesley still has some work to do.
"He's very raw, that being said he's a heck of an athlete, man," King said. "All the receivers we just got in - they're speedsters. They're the fastest that I've seen in a long time. We brought in three guys (Mitchell, Scott-Wesley and Seay) who can move and have room to grow."
Robinson pointed out three defensive players who have caught his eye as well.
"I've got four guys - Malcolm, Chris Sanders, Corey Moore and Damian Swann; those guys are ready," Robinson said. "Damien, Corey and Chris, they already know more of what is expected, so for them it's just going to come down to making plays in practice and show the coaches that they can be counted on."
Of course, everyone wants to know about running back Isaiah Crowell, who is being looked at by most fans as someone who will contribute and contribute big for the Bulldogs this fall.
Bobo has his fingers crossed. His message to him will be simple.
"One is, he is part of this football team because there is going to be a lot of pressure on the young man. There is going to be a lot of pressure from the fans, the expectations, you guys (media) wanting to talk to him, so I hope Claude (Sports information director Claude Felton) keeps him off limits to you guys for a while so he can focus on playing football," Bobo said. "But the main thing is, you've got to go to work and you've got to earn your way."
Otherwise, Bobo wants the former five-star performer to just be himself.
"That's how Coach (Richt) has always approached any freshman. Be yourself, don't change anything. Don't worry about fitting in here or fitting in there, just show up to work," Bobo said. "That's the main thing. Just show up and go to work and try to get better to help this football team."
So how much will he help?
Bobo isn't ready to make that prediction quite yet.
"He might be the guy who comes in and really helps; it might be the smaller role. It might be a little bit, it might not be any - I don't know. We don't know," Bobo said. "To be fair to the kid, we've got to go out and try to make him better every day. From Day 1 is he going to be where we want? No. I don't know where he is going to be, because I haven't worked with him. All we can do is keep working with him so he can get better and help this football team. What percentage he is going to contribute that's yet to be seen."
Tight end Jay Rome is another freshman Charles said has a chance for early playing time.
Bobo seemed to agree.
Like Shaun Chapas and Fred Munzenmaier last fall, Bobo believes could play a similar role to his two former fullbacks.
"You've got a guy like Jay Rome; I'm not saying he's going to play fullback, but (he could be) a hybrid guy who could play both positions and move back and forth," Bobo said. "We just really have to wait and see what personnel is best on the field and where they can be the most productive."
Charles admits he's curious to see what will happen once the pads come on.
"I'm very curious because you hear about the dream team, but for me it's already been nice to see so many new faces at Butts-Mehre and have new teammates to help me and get us further than we did last year," Charles said before smiling. "So far, they've lived up to it but I still think my class (2009) is the best class that's come through here. They'll have to prove to me otherwise."
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Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports and he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.