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Post Cornerback to be a strength with Oliver’s return

Thursday January 4, 2007

Junior defensive back Paul Oliver announced on Wednesday that he will return for his senior season. This news might be the biggest shot in the arm for the Georgia program this offseason. Oliver finished his junior season in impressive fashion. He performed a shutdown job on Calvin Johnson to end the regular season and then led Georgia in tackles during the Chick-fil-A Bowl while also causing an interception that led to Georgia’s final score. His return instantly gives Georgia a legitimate all-American candidate at one cornerback spot next year.

It gets really good when you consider what Georgia will have to complement Oliver. Oliver, Bryan Evans, and Ramarcus Brown all have starting experience. Asher Allen played a ton this year, mostly in nickle situations. Prince Miller also saw a good bit of playing time as a true freshman. Don’t forget that Thomas Flowers returns next year from an injury. If that unit can remain healthy, it will be the deepest and most talented cornerback unit I’ve seen at Georgia.

I want to say a word about Bryan Evans. He was a redshirt freshman in 2006 and struggled at first as most freshmen cornerbacks do. Tennessee picked on him. He was making big mistakes as late as the Mississippi State game. But the progress he has made over the past two months has been second to no one on the team. Evans played the Chick-fil-A Bowl with confidence and purpose, delivering sure tackles and some big hits. It’s hard to say who will start opposite Oliver next year. Brown started much of 2006 before getting banged up. You can’t discount the supremely talented Allen. But right now my money is on Evans. You really can’t go wrong with any of those guys, and it’s a great situation for Georgia.

We haven’t even mentioned the safety position where Georgia has produced an all-American each of the past four seasons. Who’s next?

It looks as if pass defense will be solid next year, but even the best secondary can struggle if the quarterback has all day. With wholesale changes along the defensive line, finding guys who can pressure the passer will be Georgia’s biggest question and priority on defense heading into 2007.

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