The 2018 edition of the Georgia Bulldogs head into the season as one of college football’s hunted. It is the first time the UGA program has been in this position since 2008 when the Dawgs were No. 1 in the preseason polls. That season ended in disappointment with the team playing tight and trying to protect its ranking. The 2018 team led by a relentless head coach in Kirby Smart is an always hungry breed of Bulldog. Regardless of the opponent, no matter the situation, these Dawgs will hunt! With that being said, here’s my 2018 Preseason ALL-HUNT Team.
8. Otis Reese SS Otis Reese has yet to arrive on campus but when he does, he brings a menacing physical presence between the hedges. He is a throwback to the days of yore, in the mold of Bulldog legends Thomas Davis and Greg Blue. It may take time to earn a consistent role on defense, but an instant impact should come on special teams. The highlight reel hits that made him legendary under the Friday night lights will strike fear into the heart of opposing return specialists.
7. BRENTON COX ILB Cox arrived on campus as an early enrollee and made his presence known during spring practice. At 6-foot-4, 250-pound, Cox is not your typical true freshmen. He is a different breed of outside linebacker than Carter and Bellamy with the physicality and violence he brings at the point of attack. We saw a glimpse on G-Day and with a few more months under the watchful eye of Scott Sinclair bigger and better things are ahead.
6. BEN CLEVELAND OG He went from a backup to starter in 2017, and now is one of the most intimidating players in college football to start the 2018 season. That is exactly what the 6-6, 345-pound behemoth has accomplished. Once inserted into the starting lineup, Cleveland quickly became known as a mauling run blocker. During spring practice, he played with more confidence and was exploding out of his stance rather than thinking about his assignment. That is a very scary thought for interior defensive lineman in the SEC.
5. Monty Rice ILB It is impossible to replace an inside linebacker with the skillset of Roquan Smith and Monty Rice does not need to try. Monty needs to be Monty. The Alabama native brings excellent play recognition to go along with sideline-to-sideline speed. However, what is most impressive about Rice is his ability to explode through the ball carrier and rarely miss a tackle. His continued development will be integral to the Dawg defense’s ability to continue to play at an elite level.
4. ELIJAH HOLYFIELD RB This spring, Elijah Holyfield continued to elevate his game. In limited carries last season, he developed the reputation as a bruiser who seeks out contact rather than avoiding it. While he may lack breakaway speed, he does not lack toughness and has carved out a role for this team in 2018. The Dawgs will still use a by committee approach at tailback but you can’t take a breath when Holyfield takes the field, because if you do, he will knock you out.
3. Jonathan Ledbetter DE Ledbetter’s return for his senior season was a coup for the Junkyard Dawg’s defense. During his junior season the light bulb came on and he finally started to live up to his highly touted potential coming out of Tucker High School. He is a beast at the point of attack and athletic enough to get after the quarterback. 2018 is a contract year for Ledbetter and a dominant season could send him flying up draft boards.
2. Richard LeCounte, III S In his second season on campus, Richie is going to be thrown into the spotlight and he has his sights set on crushing opposing receivers and donning the Savage Spikes early and often on Saturdays. LeCounte brings a different level of speed and athleticism to the safety position and, although he may be undersized, he has no problem playing downhill and bringing the lumber. Plain and simple, Richie is a highlight reel waiting to happen.
1. D’ANDRE WALKER OLB In 2018, Walker will be let off the chain and turned loose on opposing quarterbacks. Since his arrival on campus, Walker has been in the shadow of Floyd, Carter and Bellamy but it’s finally his time. In limited snaps last season, Walker amassed 5.5 sacks and 12 quarterback hurries. With a feature role in store for 2018, his mission will be to hunt opposing quarterbacks. I expect a very successful hunting season with many quarterbacks as his trophies.