Georgia Football Preview
Georgia was able to get an SEC Championship berth this past season after some bumps in the road along the way. The loss to South Carolina was a tough one early in the season, but they were able to bounce back quickly and get back to playing Georgia football. Kirby Smart resorted back to his philosophy of running the ball and playing defense which worked out for them until they played LSU. Georgia’s lost some talent on offense but will be able to reload in most spots. The defense will return most of their starters, making Georgia one of the top teams in the SEC.
After 3 years of having Jake Fromm under center, he declared for the NFL Draft. It will be a changing of the guard this year with a few quality transfers. Jamie Newman transferred in from Wake Forest for his final year of eligibility. Newman had some success for the Demon Deacons, but still has so much to improve on film to be taken seriously as a high draft pick. His running ability will be a huge part of the Georgia ground ‘n pound offense. They also bring in J.T. Daniels from USC who, at the time of writing this article, doesn’t know if he is eligible or not for 2020. If so, this will be a fun battle to watch between an experienced, dual threat Quarterback, and a former 5-star recruit. Regardless, the future of the QB position for the Bulldogs is promising.
Georgia will lose their best player from last year in D’Andre Swift. He was huge for them these past two seasons and my highest ranked running back in the draft will now be playing for the Detroit Lions. Kirby Smart shouldn’t worry too much, however, because they have a couple of very talented backs waiting in the wings. Zamir White enters his third season with the Bulldogs and will take over the starting role. Last season he got limited action after tearing his ACL before his freshman season. White, a former 5 star, is a powerful back that looks for contact, just what they want. James Cook, Dalvin’s brother, will also see plenty of work as a change of pace back who offers more as a pass catcher. Both White and Cook are legit NFL talents.
Georgia returns two freshman starters at receiver from last season. George Pickens has the physical skill set to be one of the best receivers in the conference. Going into his sophomore season, he will need to polish his game more to take the next step. Dominick Blaylock also saw a ton of action as a true freshman in 2019. Blaylock is more of your deep threat who brings a lot of speed to the table. The young, but experienced duo will be crucial for whoever is under center. The third wide receiver spot will be battled for by Demetris Robertson, Matt Landers, and Kearis Jackson. Robertson was a former 5-star transfer from Cal who can really fly, he would be my guess as to who rounds out the receiving group on day 1.
The Bulldogs lost Charlie Woerner and Eli Wolf to graduation and will need to find guys to step in who can open up the run game the way that Wolf and Woerner did. Tre’ McKitty is a grad transfer from Florida State that will bring a lot of experience to the position. Smart also pulled in 5-star TE, Darnell Washington. Washington is listed at 6’7” 260 and can really run. He’s the future of the position. John Fitzpatrick also saw a significant amount of time last season and will be in the rotation as well.
The offensive line is going to look a lot different this year. Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson are both gone after they both were first round picks in the draft. Xavier Truss and Jamari Salyer will be counted on to step up and do their best to replace two of the top tackles in the country. Ben Cleveland is back at guard for his final year of eligibility. Cleveland should be on the eyes of scouts as one of the top interior guys in the class. Cleveland is a mauler in the run game, just what Georgia wants for their run game. Trey Hill has been a good player for the Bulldogs when given a chance, he’ll start at center and is draft eligible. Justin Shaffer will slot in at the other guard spot and will hope to help replace Cade Mays and Solomon Kindley.
The front 7 is where Georgia really will shine this year. Devonte Wyatt, Malik Herring, and Jordan Davis will be the main 3 guys in the rotation on the interior. They bring size and athleticism to the d-line. All of them will be eligible for the draft. Keep an eye on Malik Herring to rise up and be the best one, he’s looked dominant in limited snaps. Julian Rochester could join this group on the interior as well and will compete for reps. Azeez Ojulari is a do-it-all edge rusher who has flashed as well. With a big season he could be the first edge taken in the draft. He’s an athletic freak and will step up and start for them on the edge. The other edge spot will be such a tight battle. Walter Grant, Nolan Smith, Adam Anderson, and Jermaine Johnson all have their own strengths and weaknesses. All four have the talent to start and I wouldn’t be surprised either way. Walter Grant has the most experience, Nolan Smith was a former 5-star recruit, Adam Anderson is a big-time name in the South that has generated a lot of buzz, and Jermaine Johnson was one of the top JUCO recruits a couple years ago. This is not a bad problem for Georgia to have because all of them will see playing time in some capacity. This unit as a whole will be dominant for the Bulldogs and will be fun to watch between the hedges.
Monty Rice has had a lot of looks from guys in the draft community. He almost came out last year but decided to return for his final season at Georgia. He is again among the top linebackers in the country. Nakobe Dean and Quay Walker will be in the mix to play next to Rice. We may even see some action here from a Nolan Smith or Adam Anderson if they want to really get creative.
This secondary is loaded going into 2020. Richard LeCounte III is back at safety for his senior season and is one of the top, at his position, in a great safety class. Lewis Cine will likely have to step up as a sophomore and replace the multi-year starter, JR Reed. Eric Stokes would’ve been a top 75 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, but decided to stay in school. He will start on the outside at corner along with Tyson Campbell, who’s started since he was a freshman. LeCounte, Stokes, and Campbell all could be day 2 or better picks. Mark Webb has been a sound player for them in the nickel spot. His consistent play could earn him some draft buzz when it’s all said and done. DJ Daniel, a JUCO transfer, and Kelee Ringo will also be in and out of the lineup. Ringo was a 5-star CB in the 2020 recruiting class and could push for some time early on for a very good defense.