ATHENS - Georgia will eventually release its own official post-spring depth chart. But we don't have to wait to make our own unofficial chart. Thank goodness it's still a free country.
This list is based on the current talent on hand, and doesn't take into account the incoming recruits. But following each position we also list those recruits and the chances the depth chart changes by the time of the Sept. 1 opener against Buffalo.
We'll start with the offense:
Starter: Aaron Murray, Jr.
Top backup: Hutson Mason, Jr.
In the mix: Christian LeMay, R-Fr., Parker Welch, Jr.
THE SKINNY: Murray is entrenched. But why is Mason still the top backup even though he's supposed to redshirt? Because the coaches still gave him plenty of reps, and LeMay hasn't done enough to earn the team's trust to play if something happpened to Murray.
ON THE WAY: None. (Freshman Faton Bauta enrolled early, but he's not a factor yet.)
CHANCE OF CHANGE: 80 percent ... When all is said and done, we still expect Mason to redshirt, as long as Murray doesn't suffer any long-term injury. LeMay still has plenty of time to show he can at least play in a pinch.
Co-starters: Ken Malcome, Soph. and Isaiah Crowell, Soph.
Top backups: Keith Marshall, Fr., Richard Samuel, Sr.
In the mix: Brandon Harton, Jr.
THE SKINNY: I'd prefer not to be wishy-washy and list co-starters, or more than one top backup, but this spot is just that crowded. Malcome and Crowell put some distance between themselves and everyone else, but Marshall can move right back into the mix for carries if he stays healthy in the preseason. Samuel will get reps at tailback and fullback, and it appears he could be the main goal-line tailback.
ON THE WAY: Todd Gurley.
CHANCE OF CHANGE: 40 percent ... The spring actually provided some clarity, in terms of knowing it will be a competitive situation, probably on a game-to-game basis. The backfield could look a lot different by November, but the upheaval could be minimal between now and September.
Starter: Richard Samuel, Sr.
Top backup: Zander Ogletree, Jr.
In the mix: Merritt Hall, R-Fr., Dustin Royston, Jr.
THE SKINNY: Samuel got plenty of reps here in the spring, and will get more as coaches try to figure out what he can do. His presence at the position guarantees the fullback sees more carries than last year, when Ogletree got the first one in the regular season finale. Ogletree, incidentally, will still be a factor, as will ...
ON THE WAY: Quayvon Hicks.
CHANCE OF CHANGE: 40 percent ... Giving a scholarship to a fullback is like giving one to a kicker or punter. You're not signing them to sit down. But the question is how quickly Hicks will learn the offense and get serious playing time. Don't rule out Hall, a walk-on who raised some eyebrows in spring practice.
NOTE: Malcolm Mitchell is temporarily taken out of the equation.
Starter: Tavarres King, Sr.
Top backup: Chris Conley, Soph.
In the mix: Rantavious Wooten, Jr.
THE SKINNY: King will look to build on momentum from his Outback Bowl performance. Conley was limited in spring because of wrist surgery but he should be fine by the preseason. Wooten, who took a medical redshirt last year, can be a factor for downfield passes if he can stay healthy.
Starter: Marlon Brown, Sr.
Top backup: Michael Bennett, Soph.
In the mix: Justin Scott-Wesley, R-Fr.
THE SKINNY: Brown had another strong spring, so now it's just a matter of whether he can avoid injuries. Bennett is also an entrenched member of the rotation (assistant Tony Ball likes to play about 6-7 guys) while Scott-Wesley made himself a member of the rotation with a good spring.
ON THE WAY: Blake Tibbs.
CHANCE OF CHANGE: 20 percent. ... The receiver spot in general is settled except for one major unknown: How much Mitchell ends up playing here. The guess here is Mitchell is available for about one-third of the offensive snaps at the outset of the season. But if the receivers have their own injuries or aren't very productive, Mitchell will play there more and more. If Mitchell were a full-time receiver, he would be the starter at one of these spots.
Starter: Arthur Lynch, Jr.
Top backup: Jay Rome, R-Fr.
In the mix: Jack Looman, R-Fr.,
THE SKINNY: Lynch and Rome will likely end up being almost co-starters, but for now Lynch has the nod because of his experience and knowledge of the offense. He also showed in the spring he can be more than a blocker. Rome had some big moments in the spring too, and probably has more long-term upside, but Lynch and Murray have a stronger comfort level and rapport right now.
ON THE WAY: Ty Flournoy-Smith.
CHANCE OF CHANGE: 40 percent ... Smith has a good chance to play because of depth. Lynch and Rome will both play. If you had to guess right now, the first four games would see about a 60-40 split in snaps in Lynch's favor.
Starter: Kenarious Gates, Jr.
Top backup: Watts Dantzler, Soph.
Starter: Kolton Houston, Soph.
Top backup: Xzavier Ward, R-Fr.
In the mix: Hunter Long, Soph.
THE SKINNY: Gates is one of the few players basically guaranteed a starting spot. The question is where. This spring he was the best available player to be Murray's blind-side protector. But there may be a better option in the preseason, causing Gates to move to right tackle or back to guard, where he has started off and on the past couple years. Houston was the surprise of the spring, at least on the line, and he can play guard or tackle. Dantzler, a pure tackle, is going to have a hard time being a starter this year, but he can be in the rotation.
ON THE WAY: John Theus, Greg Pyke.
CHANCE OF CHANGE: 80 percent. ... It's hard to see Theus not starting at one of the tackle spots. Pyke, who also has the size to play tackle, could also be a factor.
Starter: Dallas Lee, Jr.
Top backup: Mark Beard, Soph.
Starter: Chris Burnette, Jr.
Top backup: Austin Long, Jr.
In the mix: Zach DeBell, R-Fr.
THE SKINNY: Lee recovered from a slow start to the spring to be one of the starting five for the G-Day game. Burnette, like Gates, is one of the few guaranteed starters, and you can probably pencil him in at right guard. (That's the closest the line has to a sure starter at a specific spot.) Beard, the junior college transfer, will play because he can't redshirt.
ON THE WAY: Pyke.
CHANCE OF CHANGE: 50 percent. ... Lee was a dependable starter last year, so it's not hard to project him staying as the left guard. The question at guard is whether Gates gets pushed back to this spot, thus squeezing somebody out. The line could see a lot of upheaval during the preseason.
David Andrews, Soph.Top backups:
Lee, Burnette.THE SKINNY:
Andrews started and finished the spring as the first-teamer, but in between the coaches gave long looks to Lee and Burnette.ON THE WAY:
None.CHANCE OF CHANGE:
40 percent. ... It could shake out that Lee or Burnette displace Andrews, so the sophomore will have to show he can bang in there against the big boys. Understandably he had some trouble doing that against John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers.