It’s time folks, our long, hot summer is almost at its end and fall is starting to creep in around the edges. Here in Athens, Georgia today, I have all the windows open to air out the house. In Kansas I looked forward to doing this in the spring after the winter, in Georgia, it’s a fall thing. Anyway, the first depth chart came out this week in preparation for the opener against SEMO.
In terms of modern college football, there is an amazing amount of carry over from last season’s Big 12 Championship team. That’s mainly due to the offensive line returning intact. The only change is at the right tackle spot, and that will return to normal once Christian Duffie returns from injury in a few weeks.
The wide receiver position experienced the most turnover, and either Keagan Johnson or RJ Garcia need to step up and give Will Howard a primary receiver on the outside. From all that I’ve read, Johnson had an excellent camp and is primed to take that role. Hopefully that carries over into the season, and RJ Garcia can slide into the Malik Knowles, jack-of-all trades, role that worked so well at the the end of last season.
Barring injury, I don’t expect much to change on this side of the ball as the season moves along, at least in terms of the starters. Expect more of a rotation on the offensive line from previous years. The depth is better, and the coaching staff needs to get some guys battle hardened for next season. Other than that, what you see today is probably what you’re going to get next week.
Wide Receiver (Boundary)
#10 - Keagan Johnson - So. - 6’0”, 193
#13 - Xavier Loyd - So. - 6’2”, 191
Johnson needs to be the star receiver on this team. He’s got the potential, the coaches raved about him in camp. Now it’s time to show it on the field. The only mild surprise is Loyd jumping up and grabbing the back-up spot. Will be interesting to see if he can hold off the freshman as the season progresses.
#70 - KT Leveston - Sr. - 6’5”, 330
#56 - Andrew Leingang - So. - 6’5”, 306
KT is an absolute monster, the only question is his ability to handle the outside speed rush, and he handled it reasonably well last season. After all my talk of Leingang staying on the inside, the coaching staff goes and makes him the back-up left tackle. No idea if he sticks once Christian Duffie returns and Carver Willis becomes the 3rd tackle.
#50 - Cooper Beebe - Sr. - 6’4”, 335
#56 - Andrew Leingang - So. - 6’5”, 306
Folks, look at that left tackle, left guard combination. That’s 665 pounds of beef on the left side. Seriously, this is an NFL sized combo. This is where I thought Leingang would be, but honestly, the coaches want to get him on the field, and I’m not sure Cooper is coming off the field. I still think his future is on the inside.
#55 - Hayden Gillum - Sr. - 6’3”, 300
#75 - Sam Hect - So. - 6’4”, 285
Gillum did a great job last year, He’s one of the more athletic guards in the nation. Hect grabbed the back-up spot, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Panzer playing center if anything happened to Gillum long term. Still, Hect is probably the future at the position next season.
#54 - Hadley Panzer - Jr. - 6’4”, 303
#69 - Taylor Poitier - Sr. - 6’3”, 291
I expect a Panzer and Poitier time share to start the season. Once Taylor knocks all the rust off, it’s going to be hard for Panzer to keep the “or” designation. I think he’ll end up being more of a utility lineman at some point this season. Love seeing Poitier back on the depth chart.
#77 - Carver Willis - Jr. - 6’5”, 291
#53 - Drake Bequeaith - Fr. - 6’6”, 279
Willis is keeping this spot warm for Christian Duffie, but should make and excellent 3rd tackle once Duffie returns from injury. Bequeaith’s days on the 2 deep are numbered, but he’ll be a nice piece for the future.
#83 - Will Swanson - Jr. - 6’5”, 250
#86 - Garrett Oakley - Fr. - 6’5”, 230
#87 - Brayden Loftin - Fr. - 6’4”, 232
When the depth chart came out, I had a mild heart palpitation when I didn’t see Ben Sinnott’s name at the top of the tight end position. Was he injured? Suspended? Abducted by Aliens? Then I looked down and saw him listed as a fullback and breathed a sigh of relief. Basically, Swanson or Oakley will be the in-line tight end, and Sinnott will be the move tight end. As for the “or” Swanson’s the blocker and Oakley is the receiver. They will be deployed accordingly. Loftin backs up the Oakley part of the “or”. Nice to see a couple of young bucks on the depth chart.
#18 - Will Howard - Sr. - 6’5”, 242
#2 - Jake Rubley - So. - 6’3”, 217
#5 - Avery Johnson - Fr. - 6’2”, 188
Howard at the top is no surprise, he’s one of the best in the nation. I always forget how big he is though. The back-up spot is certainly a statement. Rubley was expected, and it’s time for him to show out this season. Losing his senior year of high school to Covid should be in the rear view now. Johnson jumping up and grabbing a spot on the two deep is awesome. He brings a totally different element to the position with his elite athletic ability. I expect to see all 3 play on Saturday.
#34 - Ben Sinnott - Jr. - 6’4”, 245
#44 - Christian Moore - Jr. - 6’2”, 237
This is essentially the move tight end. Sinnot will start in the backfield and be deployed to one side of the line or the other depending on formation. Moore came in as a fullback/H-back, and will be on the field when Coach Klein needs a hole blasted in the defensive line. He’s also a sneaky good receiver based on what I saw on his high school film.
#31 - DJ Giddens - So. - 6’1”, 212
#9 - Treshaun Ward - Sr. - 5’10, 194
#26 - Anthony Frias II - So. - 5’10”, 212
DJ is on the top line of this “or” situation, and I think he’ll be the first running back on the field. Ward is still playing catch up in terms of scheme, but is a dynamic back with speed to burn. The only question is how the carries are distributed. I love seeing Frias on the depth chart, he’s got a really cool story and could come in handy as a power back. Big fan of Anthony.
Wide Receiver (Slot)
#8 - Phillip Brooks - Sr. - 5’8”, 171
#15 - Shane Porter - So. - 5’11”, 179
#1 - Jayce Brown - Fr. - 5’11”, 174
The old man is back for one more season. All Brooks does is get open on 3rd down and return kicks for touchdowns. Behind him are two young dudes. Porter, of the Amazing Porter Brothers Special Teams Tag Team Hit Squad, makes the depth chart as a potential backup slot receiver, but the real story is the emergence of freshman Jayce Brown. The last position group that needs an athletic overhaul is wide receiver. It’s taken longer than I anticipated, but you’re starting to see improved recruiting paying off in the depth chart.
Wide Receiver (Field)
#3 - RJ Garcia II - So. - 6’0”, 176
#0 - Jadon Jackson - Sr. - 6’1”, 190
RJ Garcia is another player that has been on the mind of the coaching staff all off-season. Any time they’re asked about standouts, Garcia’s name inevitably comes up. Sounds like a potential breakout candidate to me. Jackson’s fast, but hasn’t turned that speed into on-field production and time is growing short on his football career. If he’s got it, it’s time to show it.