Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree's return has sparked defense

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Since the start of last season, Alec Ogletree has missed nearly as many games as he’s played for Georgia.

When the inside linebacker is on the field, it’s undeniable that his presence is felt.

The junior from Newnan, Ga., who missed six games last season after breaking a bone his foot and the first four this season due to suspension, has racked up 39 tackles since returning to the lineup, nine more than any other Georgia player during that stretch.

That’s not exactly surprising. Though he isn’t a returning All-American like linebacker Jarvis Jones or safety Bacarri Rambo and he’s not an outspoken player like defensive teammates Shawn Williams or Sanders Commings, Ogletree is a playmaker.

“Shawn and them are more of the talking and stuff, I’m more just play hard and play fast,” Ogletree said. “Let that do my talking.”

Alec and his twin brother Zander, the Georgia fullback, turned 21 on Sept. 25.

Alec Ogletree said he got some clothes as a birthday gift, but the real present came against Tennessee a week later.

Rambo and Ogletree returned from four-game suspensions.

Rambo had a second violation of Georgia’s drug-testing policy. Ogeltree and the school haven’t disclosed the nature of his transgression.

Georgia’s defense heads into Saturday’s game against Ole Miss off its best game of the season, a 17-9 win over then No. 3 Florida, but the unit hasn’t lived up to expectations for much of the season.

“You have those regrets or whatever you want to call it that if you were out there maybe you would have made that play,” Ogletree said.

Ogletree led the team in tackles with 14 against Tennessee and 11 against Kentucky and is tied for the team lead with five pass breakups.

Ogletree is projected as a top-20 overall NFL Draft pick in 2013 by ESPN draft analysts – Todd McShay has him at No. 16 and Mel Kiper has him at No. 19.

Most would consider it hard for an underclassman to turn down the millions that would come with being drafted there.

“I don’t know,” Ogletree said. “It’s a long way away to make that decision. Whatever decision, I’ll just try to let God guide me in the right decision and talk to my family.”

Zander insists that he’s on standby to find out what his brother will do.

“I’ll wait to see,” he said. “I’m just like y’all. I’m impatient, too. I’m waiting to see, too.”

If he does indeed turn pro, that would mean Ogletree would have only five or six games left in his Georgia career.

He said he wants to close out this season by doing what he wanted to do from the start — winning an SEC title and getting to Miami for the BCS championships.

“I’m here now and that’s all I’m focused on,” he said. “When it’s time to make that decision, I’ll make it then. As of right now, I feel like I have a whole lot to give here as far as being here to play and finishing out the season.”

SATURDAY’S GAMES

• Georgia Tech at Maryland, 12:30 p.m. (Fox-Ch. 54)

• Appalachian State at Georgia Southern, 2 (No TV)

• Ole Miss at Georgia, 3:30 (CBS-Ch. 12)

• Clemson at Duke, 7 (ESPN2)


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