Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Justin Green and Gaston Miller to forgo their final year of eligibility...who's next?

Redshirt juniors Justin Green and Gaston Miller will be honored Saturday on senior day, which means they are calling it quits after this season.

Green caught a TD pass as a wide receiver against Western Carolina, but hasn't made a catch since and is back at backup tight end, where he'll likely see even less playing time next year.

Miller, a tailback and return specialist, has been made obsolete by the presence of true freshmen Zac Stacy and especially Warren Norman. He hasn't even been traveling to away games.

Both guys are moving on with their lives, and we wish them the best.

Leaving a year of eligibility on the table is not unusual. Last year before the Tennessee game, the university said goodbye to a whopping 12 redshirt juniors, about half of whom were walk-ons.

Two of those, Chris Johnson and Bo Baggerley, will be honored on their second straight senior day. This time last year, both decided to end their football careers but then got accepted to graduate school at Vandy and opted to play another year.

Also, two other redshirt juniors, Derrius Dowell and Darlron Spead, decided in the spring to forgo their final years of eligibility.

Which raises the question of who else might skip his fifth year.

Good candidates would be:
• QB Jared Funk, who still hasn't thrown a pass and would likely begin next season in the familiar position of third-team quarterback, behind Larry Smith and Charlie Goro. But his presence would keep us from burning the redshirt off true frosh Nash Nance if somebody gets injured next season.
• LB Michael Garcia, a walk-on who hasn't played this season after being injured in the preseason.

Other possibilities include:
• LB Austin Newton, a reserve who's missed the last couple of games and will likely begin next season behind a glut of redshirt freshmen and sophomores on the depth chart.
• OL Chris Aaron, who's seen limited action this season and may or may not get a shot to play more next season.
• RB Kennard Reeves, a solid backup at running back, whose playing time has decreased with the emergence of Stacy and Norman — and will continue to slip with redshirt freshman Wesley Tate and true freshmen Myron Ross and Jerrell Priester in the mix next season.
• WR Turner Wimberly, who started one game at receiver but would likely play much less next season as youngsters Collin Ashley and Brady Brown continue to develop and true frosh Chris Boyd, Bradley Roby, Jonathon Krause and Trent Pruitt arrive on campus.

The following guys play a big part in the team's plans for next season and will almost certainly return:
• DT Adam Smotherman will return as a starter to anchor the D-Line.
• C Joey Bailey will get the first shot to replace Bradley Vierling next season and will be counted on to lead an offensive line that loses four fifth-year seniors.
• DE Teriall Brannon will compete to replace Broderick Stewart or Steven Stone as starters.
• OL Reilly Lauer continues to be considered too light to be an SEC lineman but for the second straight year is finishing the season as a starter, and he'll get a serious shot to start again next year.

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