Freshman playing time is a valuable edge in recruiting, and it’s something the Canes have managed well. Some of the more well-known True-Freshmen to receive immediate playing include: Stacy Coley, Brad Kaaya, Ahmmon Richards, and Duke Johnson. Those names however, were highly touted recruits, whos’ skill was proven instantly. Two years ago, the 3-headed monster of linebackers was essential to Richt’s rebuild; and last year we saw players like DeeJay Dallas, Jeff Thomas, and Jonathan Garvin make spectacular plays. These instances bode well for incoming talent, looking to make a statement for themselves.
So why are incoming Freshmen able to get so much playing time at The U? Depth issues have been apparent over the first two years of Richt’s tenure, and it’ll be no different in the 2018-19 season. Losing players like Malek Young, RJ McIntosh, and Chad Thomas will open up key spots for incoming talent. However, being led by veterans such as Michael Jackson, Jaquan Johnson, and Defensive Coordinator Manny Diaz, the defense is still expected to gel successfully.
Units such as the offensive line however, aren’t looking so sound. In the Spring Game, the defensive line dominated the line-of-scrimmage. The D-line deserves credit of course, but the struggles to protect the quarterback(s) are a pressing issue. Once again, the Canes may have to look to incoming talent in order to resolve things. Incoming Freshmen Delon Scaife and Cleveland Reed, both of which were 4-star recruits (247Sports), may have prominent roles in the system by the end of fall practices.
Overall, continuing to develop young talent is a vital tactic, and Mark Richt has been utilizing it successfully. Injuries, rotation changes, and player progression will give Freshmen useful time on the field; and as Canes fans, we should expect some new faces to make appearances.