ATHENS, Ga. — The Georgia Bulldogs and Philadelphia Eagles adopted "Dream Team" themes entering the 2011 football season.
It's working out better at the college level.
With Georgia's regular season halfway through, freshman Isaiah Crowell leads the Bulldogs with 573 rushing yards and freshman Malcolm Mitchell leads the team with 438 receiving yards. Crowell and Mitchell rank fourth in the Southeastern Conference in their respective categories.
Chris Conley made his first two pass receptions the past two weeks, and seven freshmen have played on defense.
"I would say we are extremely pleased with the class," Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said. "There is no question that we signed a bunch of great players. I really believe that. Before their careers are over, they are going to make tremendous contributions to this football team."
Outside linebacker Ray Drew was the most touted defensive signee in the "Dream Team," but he has played in only three games and made three tackles.
Amarlo Herrera, a second-team inside linebacker at the start of preseason camp who became a starter after Alec Ogletree and Christian Robinson were injured, has been the biggest surprise. The 6-foot-2, 231-pounder from the Atlanta suburb of College Park is tied for fourth on the team with 24 tackles and has 2.5 tackles for loss.
"If we were loaded at linebacker, he might have been a guy who redshirted," Richt said. "You love it when the guys do get to play, because those experiences make them so much better in year two."
The nation's best
The Bulldogs will be facing the nation's top team in interceptions this week when they visit Vanderbilt. The Commodores have 14 pickoffs, cornerbacks Casey Hayward and Trey Wilson having combined for seven.
"They don't make many mistakes, and they force you to be perfect," Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray said. "They're not going to give up a lot of big plays. They almost held Alabama to seven points in the first half."
A good situation
Junior college transfer John Jenkins made his first start at nose for the Bulldogs last week, supplanting Kwame Geathers. The two 350-pounders have been factors on a defense that allows just 85.8 rushing yards a game, which ranks third in the SEC behind Alabama and LSU.
"The good news is we have two guys who can play and two guys who know that you have to compete for that starting job on a weekly basis," Richt said. "That's when you really have something going on."
Odds and ends
Georgia has won 15 of the last 16 against Vanderbilt and leads the series 51-18-2. ... Richt reiterated Tuesday that he expects Ogletree (foot) and Mitchell (hamstring) to be ready for the Oct. 29 game against Florida. ... Chris Burnette and Dallas Lee are expected to be the starting guards this week, with Kenarious Gates coming off the bench. ... Richt on playing at Vandy: "I can't tell you how many times we've been at halftime wondering what's going on."
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...