0

AP picks Georgia Bulldogs No.1

ATHENS - Mark Richt couldn't hide his enthusiasm after he made the climb to the press box to watch Georgia's spring game in April.

The view was good. Richt saw talent everywhere.

'To be honest with you, I felt pretty blessed,' Richt said, adding he was impressed with Georgia's 'good-looking athletes.'

Richt isn't alone. It seems all who have a vote in preseason polls, including The Associated Press and Richt's national peers, have been impressed with the Bulldogs.

Georgia, No. 2 in the final 2007 Associated Press Top 25, is No. 1 in The AP preseason Top 25 released Saturday. Georgia also was No. 1 in The USA Today/Coaches poll as well as preseason rankings by Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News and Lindy's.

Richt returns 17 starters, including nine on defense and most of the skill players from an offense that scored 40 or more points in six games last year.

Georgia returns speed, experience and depth after an 11-2 2007 season in which Richt said he used more players - due to talent, not injury or poor performance - than in any other year. The Bulldogs will carry a seven-game winning streak into this season.

The list of returning starters includes two players - quarterback Matthew Stafford and tailback Knowshon Moreno - who could make Heisman Trophy watch lists.

Leaders on defense include linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Rennie Curran and tackle Jeff Owens. Cornerback also is a strength with juniors Asher Allen and Prince Miller.