Georgia Bulldogs

Georgia receives huge boost from four returning underclassmen

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An often overlooked aspect of recruiting, particularly at high-profile programs, is the ability to retain the talent already on the roster.

Each year the NFL comes calling. It’s too tempting for some. Inevitably, very talented rosters all around college football’s Power Five conferencex lose talented underclassmen that could be a major contributors during the following season.

Georgia received a major boost when four starters decided to bypass the NFL for another year in Athens.

Head coach Mark Richt announced the return of left tackle John Theus, wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell and outside linebackers Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins Friday, via The Macon Telegraph.

The ability to retain this volume of experienced talent is more important to Georgia than anything the coaching staff could have achieved with its 2015 recruiting class.

Floyd’s decision may be the most surprising of the group. The outside linebacker was considered a potential first-round talent by ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. and Toddy McShay. Floyd, a redshirt sophomore, leads the Bulldogs with six sacks.

Jenkins serves as Floyd’s bookend at outside linebacker in Georgia’s 3-4 defensive scheme. Jenkins is second on the team with nine tackles for loss and leads the Bulldogs with 23 quarterback hurries.

Mitchell remains one of the most talented Bulldogs when he’s on the field. The wide receiver can even start at cornerback if needed. In eight games this year, Mitchell is third on the team with 28 receptions and three receiving touchdowns.

Theus made the transition from right to left tackle as a junior. He didn’t miss a beat on the blind side. Theus is a three-year starter and the top talent along the team’s offensive line.

The Bulldogs can also add right tackle Kolton Houston to the equation after being granted a sixth-year of eligibility Friday by the NCAA.

With all of this returning talent, Georgia appears to be the early favorite in the SEC East next season. Plus, Richt and company are poised to add a Top 3 recruiting class to the roster, according to Rivals.com.

NCAA grants sixth year of eligibility to Georgia’s Kolton Houston

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What a long, strange trip its been for Georgia offensive lineman Kolton Houston.

His journey isn’t complete, though.

The NCAA granted Houston a sixth-year of eligibility, and he’ll be a member of the Bulldogs for the 2015 season, according to a release from the school.

“I’m extremely blessed to wear this jersey for one more year,” Houston tweeted. “So thankful for everybody that has helped me along the way.”

With Houston’s extra year of eligibility, the Bulldogs will return four of five starters along the offensive line in 2015. Only center David Andrews will need to be replaced. Houston, who has played multiple positions over the last two seasons, started all 12 games at right tackle this year.

It’s been an uphill climb for Houston after being suspended during his first three years in Athens due to testing positive for a banned substance in high school.

The NCAA simply rectified the situation by granting Houston the extra year.

Auburn’s D’haquille Williams tweets he won’t travel to Georgia

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The Auburn Tigers’ leading receiver, D’haquille Williams, wasn’t expected to play this weekend against the No. 15 Georgia Bulldogs. But Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn wouldn’t completely rule him out earlier in the week.

If Malzahn was looking for a slight pre-game advantage by leaving Williams’ status up in the air, the wide receiver ruined the little bit of gamesmanship with one tweet Friday afternoon.

Williams reportedly suffered an MCL sprain and a knee bruise Saturday against the Texas A&M Aggies. The junior wide receiver only registered one catch for 11 yards before leaving the game.

The JUCO transfer is Auburn’s leading receiver this season by a wide margin. Williams has 13 more receptions than senior Quan Bray and 190 more yards than junior Sammie Coates.

Auburn clearly has depth at the position, though. Bray, Coates and junior Ricardo Lewis can still provide the vertical threats necessary to make Auburn’s offense truly dangerous when its clicking on all cylinders.

Williams will likely miss next week’s game against an FCS opponent, the Samford Bulldogs, to get fully healthy for Auburn’s Nov. 29 meeting with the Alabama Crimson Tide in this year’s rendition of the Iron Bowl.

SEC East up for grabs after No. 11 Georgia’s 38-20 loss to Florida

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While the SEC West garners most of the attention, the SEC East is officially a mess.

As the only ranked SEC East program, the No. 11 Georgia Bulldogs were the clear favorite to claim a division crown and play in the SEC Championship Game. Mark Richt‘s program held its destiny in its hands and fumbled it away Saturday.

The Florida Gators dominated at the line of scrimmage to earn a 38-20 victory over Georgia in Jacksonville, Fla. at the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.”

With Georgia’s loss, the Missouri Tigers leap to the top of the SEC standings with a 4-1 conference record. These are the same Tigers who lost to the 3-5 Indiana Hoosiers 31-27 earlier in the season. Georgia crushed Missouri 34-0 three weeks ago, yet the Bulldogs are now looking up at them in the standings.

How the Gators beat the Bulldogs wasn’t hard to discern. Will Muschamp‘s offensive game plan was overly simplistic.

Florida ran the ball 60 times for 418 yards. The Gators’ offensive line should receive the game ball after absolutely destroying Georgia’s defensive front. Florida called the same plays over and over again, and Georgia simply didn’t have an answer.

Freshman quarterback Treon Harris only attempted six total passes. He completed three of them for 27 yards.

Florida relied on a two-headed monster in its backfield. Both Kelvin Taylor and Matt Jones ran for over 190 yards. Their individual efforts in the same contest will go down as the two of the best rushing performances in Florida’s history.

Despite Georgia’s pathetic performance, the Bulldogs can still make an appearance in the SEC Championship Game. Missouri still faces the Texas A&M Aggies, Tennessee Volunteers and Arkansas Razorbacks. If it trips up along the way and Georgia wins out, the Bulldogs hold the tie-breaker. Georgia has to get by the No. 3 Auburn Tigers next week to have a shot of that happening.

NCAA doesn’t clarify Todd Gurley’s status after meeting with UGA officials

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No news isn’t exactly good news for Georgia regarding Todd Gurley‘s suspension.

According to a release from the University of Georgia, President Jere W. Morehead, J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Greg
McGarity, and other University of Georgia representatives met with the NCAA Committee of Infractions Thursday in Indianapolis.

The primary reason behind the meeting was to discuss the case of UGA head swimming and diving coach Jack Bauerle. Gurley’s status was discussed, though, and nothing was decided during the meeting.

“There is no new news at this time and no further comment is necessary,” the statement read.

Gurley was suspended Oct. 9 “during an ongoing investigation into an alleged violation of NCAA rules.” The former Heisman Trophy front runner allegedly received money for his autograph.

Georgia head coach Mark Richt didn’t anticipate a decision Thursday. If Gurley was ruled eligible, the running back would have played Saturday against the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Despite playing in five games this season compared to six or seven, Gurley is still 12th in the nation with 773 rushing yards. The Bulldogs back also ranks fourth with an average of 8.22 yards per carry.

With the Bulldogs set to depart for Fayetteville, Ark. tomorrow, any hope of Gurley’s return will turn toward a target date of Nov. 1 against the Florida Gators.