John Theus

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.