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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dawgs of the Decade: The Defensive Tackles

Through a decade of success, there have been plenty of players who have made their mark in a Georgia uniform, and for the next two weeks, The Telegraph will be giving you the chance to vote on your picks for the Bulldogs’ All-Decade team for the 2000s. We’ll go position-by-position, and you’ll pick the winners by going to to vote.

Our fifth ballot is for Georgia’s top defensive tackles of the decade, and the nominees are:

(Note: Years as one of Georgia’s primary defensive tackles in parentheses. The top two vote getters will be selected for the All-Decade team.)

Richard Seymour (1999-2000). If we went back through the last 20 years, there’s a good chance Seymour would be atop any list of great UGA defensive tackles, and given his stellar NFL career, he’s clearly created a lasting legacy. But this is all about the 2000s, and Seymour only played one year during the decade – but it was a heck of a year. He was a first-team All-American and first-team All-SEC as a senior in 2000, playing along three other future NFL first-round draft picks. He started 10 games that season, making 78 tackles, including 10.5 for a loss. He was selected sixth overall by the New England Patriots in the 2001 NFL draft.

Marcus Stroud (1999-2000). Like Seymour, Stroud has just one year of playing time in the 2000s to his credit, but he made the most of it. Along with Seymour, Stroud was an All-SEC selection and a crucial cog on a defense that allowed just 18 points per game. He recorded 57 tackles, 1.5 sacks and six TFLs as a senior and led the team with 24 quarterback pressures. And like Seymour, Stroud was selected in the first round – 13th overall – of the 2001 NFL draft.

Johnathan Sullivan (2001-2002). Numbers simply don’t do justice to the impact Sullivan had during his years at Georgia. He was a dominant run stuffer on Mark Richt’s first team in 2001 and on the 2002 SEC title team. As a junior in 2002, Sullivan was named a first-team All-SEC selection. Of course, while numbers don’t define him, that’s not to say they weren’t impressive. In his three-year career at Georgia, he recorded 154 tackles, nine sacks, four passes defensed, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble. His final season in 2002, he recorded 74 tackles and four sacks and was selected sixth overall in 2003 draft by the New Orleans Saints.

Gerald Anderson (2003-2005). Never the flashiest of Georgia’s run of successful defensive tackles, Anderson made his mark for four seasons in Athens and was a key member of the defensive line for the Bulldogs’ 2005 SEC title team. His best season came as a junior in 2004 when he made 55 tackles with two sacks and eight tackles for a loss. As a senior, he had 31 takedowns, seven of which went for a loss, but missed the Sugar Bowl with an injury – a game Georgia lost as West Virginia racked up 385 yards rushing without Anderson to help stuff the middle.

Kedric Golston (2003-2005). Golston battled injuries throughout his career at Georgia, but played through the majority of them. He was a freshman All-SEC his first season in Athens in 2002, helping the Bulldogs to an SEC title as a reserve. By his senior season, however, he had grown into a dominant force. He made 21 tackles in 2005, including 1.5 sacks and 28 QB pressures helping to win his second SEC title, helping hold LSU to just 74 rush yards in the conference championship game. He was selected in the sixth round of the 2006 NFL draft and currently plays for the Washington Redskins.

Jeff Owens (2006-07, 2009). Owens’ impact at Georgia has been big since he first arrived in Athens. As a reserve in 2005, he had 2.5 sacks, including one against LSU in the SEC title game, and was a second-team freshman All-American. A year later, he started 11 games, making 26 tackles and 19 QB hurries. In 2007, Owens was the anchor of a stalwart defense that helped the Bulldogs finish with a No. 2 ranking and a Sugar Bowl win. He had 26 tackles and 21 QB hurries on a defense that finished 16th nationally in rush defense. He missed all of the 2008 season with an ACL injury but returned in 2009 to help rejuvenate the defense, starting all 12 games, making 31 tackles, including four for a loss, and 1.5 sacks. Like Sullivan, however, Owens’ career is defined less by his own numbers and more by how much he improved the players around him.

Geno Atkins (2007-2009). If anyone has benefited from Owens’ success, it’s Atkins, but the three-year starter has had plenty of success on his own, too. A first-team All-SEC selection as a sophomore, Atkins has been one of the most feared defensive tackles in the conference for three seasons. In 2007, Atkins started just seven games but led the Bulldogs with 14.5 tackles for a loss, including a three-sack performance in a win over Georgia Tech. Without Owens in 2008, Atkins saw increased attention from defenses, but still made 34 tackles and had a team-high 32 QB hurries. As a senior, Atkins was a second-team All-SEC selection, making 33 tackles, including 9.5 for a loss, and 2 sacks along with 27 QB hurries.

So, who gets your vote? Go to to cast your ballot or vote in our previous categories, and be sure to pick up a copy of the December 27th issue of The Telegraph to find out the winners.

And don't forget to leave your comments here on the blog. Tell us about why you made your selection and your favorite memories of those players, and your comments could appear in our final results issue of The Telegraph.

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