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Friday, December 18, 2009

Dawgs of the Decade: The Offensive Line

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 www.macon.com/decade to vote.

Our 10th ballot is for Georgia’s top offensive linemen of the decade, and the nominees are:

(Note: Years as one of Georgia’s starters in parentheses. The top three vote-getters on the interior line and top two tackles will make the team.)

INTERIOR LINEMEN

Ben Jones (2008-present). Jones is the prototypical offensive lineman in almost every way. On one hand, he’s a big bruiser checking in at 6-foot-3, 300 pounds. But more than his physique, it’s his attitude that makes Jones intimidating. He’s aggressive, confident, and perhaps a little crazy. The self-proclaimed country boy from Alabama took over the starting center job just four games into his career, earning a freshman All-SEC nod in 2008. His blocking earned him offensive lineman of the week honors in the SEC after Georgia beat Kentucky that year. In 2009, he blossomed into a veteran leader on the line despite being just a sophomore and was named second-team All-SEC.

Chris Davis (2007-present). Never the flashiest of linemen – although, are any of them that flashy? – Davis is every bit the gritty warrior a good line needs. In three seasons of action, Davis has started 36 of a possible 38 games despite playing much of the past two seasons with a nagging hip injury that required surgery after 2008. He was a freshman All-American honorable mention in 2007, started at three different positions on a makeshift line in 2008 and recovered from offseason surgery to become a cornerstone of Georgia’s resurgent line in 2009 at both left and right guard.

Nick Jones (2003-2006). On an offense composed mostly by youth in 2006, Jones was the unquestioned leader. He started every game that season and earned All-SEC honors, was named the team’s permanent captain and its offensive MVP while handling the center position on a unit that started three different quarterbacks. Jones was a key contributor throughout his career at Georgia, starting games in four seasons and ending his career with a string of 32 consecutive starts.

Alex Jackson (2001-2002). Under Jim Donnan, Jackson was the Bulldogs’ top reserve lineman, but when Mark Richt arrived in 2001, Jackson quickly emerged as a starter. He started 10 games his junior season, including a strong performance at right tackle subbing for Jon Stichcomb against Georgia Tech that season. Jackson’s biggest success came at guard, however, where the 335-pound behemoth helped open holes up the middle and thwart defensive pressure on the Bulldogs’ 2002 SEC title team as the starting left guard.

Russ Tanner (2003-2005). A backup center on Mark Richt’s first SEC title team in 2002, Tanner progressed in every year of his career. He started throughout his final three seasons in Athens, culminating with another conference championship in 2005. As a sophomore in 2003, he started 14 games for the SEC East champs. He was named to the Remmington Trophy Watch List his final two seasons and a member of the Academic All-SEC team. He graduated as part of the winningest class in Georgia history.

Kevin Breedlove (1999-2002). The burly, 315-pound lineman was a beast in the interior of Georgia’s offensive line during the early part of the decade. As a freshman in 1999, he earned freshman All-America honors, and his career took off from there. He earned All-SEC honors in both 2000 and 2002, helping Georgia to its first SEC championship win in ’02 in 20 years. He set the Georgia school record for non-kickers by making 47 straight starts to end his career.

Max Jean-Gilles (2003-2005). Jean-Gilles (last name hyphenated despite Mark Richt’s usual moniker of “Max-Jean”) was part of Georgia’s 2002 freshman class, earning an SEC title that year as a backup. As a sophomore, he blossomed, dominating opposing defenders with ease. One of the largest linemen ever to play at Georgia checking in at close to 350 pounds, Jean-Gilles was a three-year starter who paved the way for some of Georgia’s most successful offensive seasons. He earned All-SEC honors in each of his three seasons as a starter and was named a Walter Camp All-American as a senior in 2005 when he won his second SEC title.

Fernando Velasco (2006-2007). Velasco didn’t have a typical career path at Georgia, earning minimal time off the bench in 2003 and 2004 before redshirting the 2005 season. But when he emerged as a starter in 2006, he blossomed. He started 25 games in his final two seasons in Athens, a period in which the Bulldogs went 20-6. As a senior in 2007, he won the SEC’s offensive lineman of the week award twice and helped the Bulldogs to a Sugar Bowl victory and a No. 2 overall ranking with one of the most potent offensive attacks in the conference. He earned a second-team All-SEC nod in 2007.

OFFENSIVE TACKLES

Clint Boling (2007-present). Perhaps the most crucial player on Georgia’s offense the past two seasons, Boling has proven an invaluable resource all over the line. As a freshman in 2007, Boling made 11 starts at both right guard and right tackle and was named to the freshman All-America team. In 2008, he started 12 games and played at three different positions, but it was his move from the right side of the line to left tackle that finally settled a chaotic season on Georgia’s line. He earned first-team All-SEC honros in 2008 blocking for Knowshon Moreno, who rushed for 1,400 yards, and was the SEC’s lineman of the week in a win over Tennessee. In 2009, Boling again started the year on the right side of the line, but moved to left tackle midway through the year. Not surprisingly, Georgia’s running game exploded after the transition, and Boling earned All-SEC honors for the second straight season.

Jon Stinchcomb (1999-2002). Following in the footsteps of his older brother Matt, Jon Stinchcomb made his mark as one of the most dominant blockers in Bulldogs history as a four-year starter and three-time All-SEC selection. As a redshirt freshman in 1999, he started 11 games and was a fixture at right tackle for the remainder of his career. In 2002, he recovered a fumble in the end zone against Auburn, becoming the first Georgia lineman to score a touchdown in 17 years. He helped Georgia to an SEC title that season and earned All-America honors as well. He was a second-round draft pick by the New Orleans Saints in 2003 and is currently enjoying a 13-0 season with the Saints this year.

Chester Adams (2006-2007). Adams started 23 games in his final two years at Georgia and was a crucial bridge between the Bulldogs’ talented linemen in the first half of Mark Richt’s tenure and the young group of up-and-comers that now occupy the line. With a true freshman at QB in 2006, Adams was part of a line that allowed just 17 sacks – the second best mark in the SEC. A year later, with three freshman playing significant roles, Adams was the veteran core of a line that helped Knowshon Moreno rush for more than 1,300 yards and helped Georgia to a Suger Bowl victory.

George Foster (2001-2002). As a sophomore in 2000, Foster was used primarily as a backup but still saw significant playing time. A year later, however, Foster nailed down the first-team tackle spot on Mark Richt’s first offensive line, starting nine games. In his senior season in 2002, Foster worked on the line again helping Georgia to its first SEC title in 20 years. After his senior season, Foster was selected in the first round of the NFL draft by the Denver Broncos. He currently plays for the Cleveland Browns.

Daniel Inman (2003-2006). One of the most consistent performers of the 2000s, Inman started 48 games in his career – the second most by any player in school history – and earned first-team All-SEC honors in both 2005 and 2006. Inman started 12 games as a true freshman in 2003 and earned freshman All-America honors for his work that year. By his junior year in 2005, he had developed into one of the most dominant tackles in the SEC and helped the Bulldogs to a conference championship. As a senior, he anchored the right side of Georgia’s line and was a first-team All-SEC selection.

So, who gets your vote? Go to www.macon.com/decade 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.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Daniel Inman "one of the most consistent performers of the 2000's" I guess if you're counting false starts and personal foul penalties at the most crucial times then yeah....

Jones, Breedlove, Max Jean, Stinchcomb and Boling, now that'd be a hell of a line.

Kathleen said...

I love that Ben Jones is nuts. His craziness alone makes me look forward to next year. Every team needs that kid who is gets so worked up that he'll chew up the field. Literally.

wesley said...

I tried getting to my keyboard to vote, but alas, I was being held by Daniel Inman.

JRL said...

LMAO Wesley............that is funny

opsomath said...

Regarding Ben Jones's Bama roots, I think of this from the Drive-By Truckers.

"Don't piss off the boys from Alabama,
You know they won't let it slide -
They might find you in the Tennessee River,
or they might not find you at all."

Lots of love for the Turf Monster.

blackertai said...

I still remember the paper describing what Max-Jean did to opposing linemen as simultaneously the most interesting and most worrisome thing ever: "Gorilla-Dogging" someone. My friends and I still joke about that. Who wants to get "Gorilla-Dogged?"

*shudder* I'm afraid typing it.

Lane said...

Again no mention of Kiante Tripp!!

Also, puzzled as to why Searles, did not move Boling to LT after the injury to Trinton.

Searles,competency has to be questioned for not moving Boling to LT MUCH SOONER!!

Lane

Lane said...

Failed to note Dennis Roland is starting for the Bengals, in front of Andre Smith

Should Roland have been given consideration?

Lane