May 4, 2009

Breakdown: Linebackers

Rennie Curran plans on making good use of his time once he wraps up final exams this week and before he returns to campus for summer workouts in June.

"I plan on going home, go visit some high schools and churches, and talk to some kids because I always like to give back and to do some charity work," Curran said. "I'll be working out with trainers I was with before I came here; basically just doing anything I can to be productive."

Curran is certainly that; both on and off the field.

Last year, the former Brookwood star earned First-Team All-SEC honors after leading the Bulldogs with 115 tackles, the most for a Georgia player since 1998.

Don't look for Curran to be slowing down anytime soon.

"There's no off-season anymore and it's always going to be a grind. You always try to do what you can to put in a little extra time in the weight room, and really use the time we have to try and improve," Curran said. "You do whatever you can to step your game up."

No doubt Georgia coaches hope Curran's work ethic rubs off on the rest of the Bulldogs, particularly those on the defensive side.

As UGASports continues its post-spring position breakdown, we take a look at the linebackers, a position, which at least on paper, appears to boast excellent depth.

UGASports on Rennie Curran (Jr., 5-11, 225): Don't let his stature fool you. Curran is one of the best pursuers in the entire SEC and we'll bet you dollars to donuts that he'll be among the leading tacklers in the conference this fall.

UGASports on Akeem Dent (Jr., 6-2, 228): Dent doesn't seem to get much attention, but the fact that he's currently listed as the starter at Mike linebacker says something about his ability. Tough with a nose for the football, Dent has shown marked improvement every year. Look for continued good work this fall.

UGASports on Darryl Gamble (Jr., 6-2, 248): Arguable Georgia's most versatile linebacker. Gamble can excel at all three spots, with starts at both Mike and Sam over his career. His diversity was underscored even more this spring when the Bulldogs used him as a standup defensive end in their dime package.

UGASports on Marcus Washington (Sr., 6-0, 245): Washington is almost 100 percent after missing all last year following shoulder surgery. The Keysville native gives Georgia another experienced body at the Mike position, and like Gamble, is also expected to see time as a rush end. Unlike Gamble, Washington will play from a more traditional two-point stance.

UGASports on Marcus Dowtin (So., 6-2, 225): Although he's still learning, Dowtin may be Georgia's most athletic linebacker. Already one of the Bulldogs' most physically imposing linebackers, Dowtin will see most of his time as a backup to Curran at Will and behind Dent at Mike. A ferocious hitter, Dowtin will be on the field a lot come fall.

UGASports on Charles White (RSo, 6-1, 220): With the possible exception of Rennie Curran, White may be the fastest sideline-to-sideline pursuer on the team. A torn Achilles cost White his 2008 campaign, and he's healthy now, but will still need to show coaches the time away from the field hasn't adversely affected his play. The guess here, it hasn't.

UGASports on Nick Williams (6-2, 226): The former safety still has much to learn about the position, but is making excellent strides. There's no questioning his athleticism or his desire to succeed. How quickly he continues to pick up the scheme will determine how quickly he plays, but there's little question he's got the potential to be a solid, solid contributor.

UGASports on Akeem Hebron (Jr., 6-1, 226): Hebron has been battling fractured ankle and missed all of the spring, and has yet to actually get completely healthy. Until he can, he'll be hard-pressed to get the kind of playing time most figured he would initially see.

UGASports on Darius Dewberry (Sr., 6-3, 230): Dewberry is coming off shoulder surgery and it remains extremely unclear as to when he will get back on the field. When he does, it may not be at linebacker as coaches have considered moving him to defensive end.

UGASports on Christian Robinson (RFr, 6-2, 221): Robinson has recovered nicely from his broken arm but still figures to be a year or two away before seeing significant playing time.

UGASports on Michael Gilliard (6-2, 205): Gilliard recorded 106 tackles, including 12 for a loss and five sacks for Valdosta High last year. Extremely athletic, Gilliard will get a look but Georgia's depth at the position would appear to put a redshirt in his immediate future.

UGASports on Chase Vasser (6-3, 208): Hard-nosed, scrappy, a nose for the football. These are just some of the adjectives which have been used to describe the former Chestatee High standout. The three-star prospect was rated by Rivals.com as the No. 20 outside linebacker in the country last year but like Gilliard, appears in line for a likely redshirt.

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