(Outside Linebackers Coach)
One of the new members of the Bulldogs coaching staff, Lanning was named an assistant coach at Georgia in January of this year, after serving two years as inside linebacker coach and recruiting coordinator at the University of Memphis. Lanning, who spent the 2015 football season at Alabama as a graduate assistant working with the outside linebackers, is an excellent recruiter and played a key role in Coach Kirby Smart’s staff locking up the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class this year. With outgoing seniors Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy no longer around, Lanning will be in charge of shaping Georgia’s young outside linebacker corps into again one of the best units in the SEC.
J.R. REED (CB, #20)
Talk about a pleasant surprise, this 6-1, 194-pound junior out of Frisco, Tex. and a transfer to UGA from the University of Tulsa, was just that in the 2017 football season. En route to earning AP All-SEC Second Team honors, Reed started all 15 games for the national runner-up Bulldogs and was second on the team with 79 tackles — behind All-America Roquan Smith — including 5.0 tackles-for-loss. Reed was named defensive Newcomer of the Year at the team’s post-season awards gala and was one of three players Kirby Smart selected to represent the Bulldogs at SEC Media Days this summer. Along with fellow cornerback Deandre Baker, Reed is expected to make life tough for opposing quarterbacks this season … starting in Saturday’s season opener against Austin Peay’s Jeremiah Oatsvall.
MONTY RICE (ILB, #32)
There’s no first-team All-America and Butkus Award winner Roquan Smith on the Georgia campus this season but the Bulldogs are hoping that, collectively, their 2018 linebacker corps can make the loss of Smith less stinging. And certainly Rice, the 6-1, 235-pound sophomore from Madison, Ala., is one of those guys capable of stepping up big at the inside ‘backer position this fall. Rice appeared in 14 games in Georgia’s championship run last season, making 22 total stops. With the speed, like Smith, to go from sideline to sideline in pursuit of opposing running backs and receivers — as evidenced by his game-high 14 tackles in this year’s G-Day spring game — Rice’s play this season will be instrumental in the eventual success that Mel Tucker’s defense attains.
LAMONT GAILLARD (CENTER, #53)
This two-year starter is the undisputed leader of the Bulldogs’ talented offensive line. The 6-2, 308-pound senior started all 15 games for Georgia in the Bulldogs’ spectacular 2017 season and paved the way up front as the team won the SEC Championship, defeated Oklahoma in a two-overtime Rose Bowl thriller and then led Alabama for the majority of the night in the national championship game before dropping a heartbreaker to the Crimson Tide in overtime. Gaillard, who played the 2016 season at guard, will be looking to set the tone for a fast start for the Bulldog offense in Saturday’s season opener against Austin Peay.
JULIAN ROCHESTER (Nose Guard, #5)
As Georgia goes against the Governors in Saturday’s 2018 opener, many eyes will be on Rochester, a 6-5, 300-pound junior who will be a key performer in the Bulldogs’ defensive front as he attempts to fill the big shoes left by 2017 starter John Atkins at the nose spot. Certainly Rochester, the former McEachern High standout, has the strength and quickness to get the job done for coach Tray Scott’s unit this season and disrupting the Austin Peay attack on Saturday would be a good way for Rochester to start.
ISAAC NAUTA (TE, #18)
Although Nauta’s 2017 receiving performance fell off from his outstanding freshman season in 2016, when the Georgia tight ends weren’t targeted nearly as often last season, Nauta still rendered an outstanding season with his blocking for the Bulldog running backs and wide receivers, including a key block he threw to spring Sony Michel for the winning touchdown in the Rose Bowl. Regarded as one of the most physically gifted tight ends in the SEC, the 6-4, 240-pound Nauta is expected to get the football more this season, thus not allowing opposing defenses to focus strictly on Georgia’s talented wideouts.
RILEY RIDLEY (WR, #8)
The Georgia coaching staff is anticipating the biggest season yet from junior receiver Ridley. The 6-2, 200-pound junior finished the 2017 season with14 catches for 218 yards and two touchdowns while making seven starts. But it was in the national championship game at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium where Ridley set the stage for this coming season as he recorded a career-best six receptions for 82 yards against the vaunted Crimson Tide secondary … bettering the performance of his older brother, Alabama All-America receiver Calvin Ridley. With Jake Fromm, and Justin Fields, likely putting the football in the air much more this season, Ridley could indeed enjoy a break-out year for the Bulldogs.