The Georgia Bulldogs are expected to trot an elite, veteran-laden offensive unit onto the field to open the 2013 season against Clemson.
However, coach Mark Richt’s squad lost several superstar defenders to graduation and to the NFL Draft. In order to compete against the rest of the SEC’s elite – as the Dawgs are very much expected to do – a young defense is going to have to grow up in a hurry.
That may begin with safety Tray Matthews.
At 6-foot and 194 pounds, the Newnan, Ga. native stepped foot on the the Bulldogs’ Athens campus as the No. 10-ranked safety in the entire nation. He was scouted for his relatively high football IQ, and as ESPN’s Kipp Adams points out, Matthews’ ability to read coverages could make him a starter against Clemson’s elite air attack at the end of August.
“Matthews was considered one of the best in the country coming out of high school, and his decision to enroll early was a wise one as he was the talk of spring practice. Matthews has the talent and pretty much has locked up the free safety spot heading into fall practice, but it will be his ability to quickly pick up the different coverage packages that will seal his fate as a difference-maker this season.”
Running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall – better known to the nation as “Gurshall” – were easily the Bulldogs’ freshman breakout stars in 2012.
If Richt and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham are hoping to three-peat as SEC East champions, they may need Matthews to be the team’s 2013 freshman breakout superstar.