Leadership is often overlooked by fans when analyzing future production, but coaches understand just how critical player-led performance is for a championship season. Quality on-field leadership tends to minimize a team’s weaknesses, while the absence of leadership tends to expose cracks in the team’s foundation. Talent gets a team into the conversation; leadership brings home the trophy.
- Trey Hill – CENTER
Hill took over at center last season, started all 14 games and was named All-SEC for his efforts. He is a prototypical offensive lineman, and with his year of experience as a starter, the senior will step right back into his role as the leader of the o-line when practice resumes.
- Jermaine Johnson – LINEBACKER
Johnson is another JUCO transfer who made a significant impact during his first year as a Bulldog. Johnson played in all 14 games. He was a presence on the edge for the Bulldogs in 2019 and will continue to terrorize opposing offenses when the 2020 cranks up.
- Malik Herring – DEFENSIVE LINE
Herring received the most improved player award at the 2019 Gala, and the Dawgs will need for him to take the next step in 2020. A four-star recruit, Herring can move on as a high draft pick, if he is ready for his senior year spotlight.
- DJ Daniel – DEFENSIVE BACK
Daniel played in 13 of 14 games during the 2019 season. He started the last 11 games of the season and finished with 42 total stops. The transfer from Georgia Military closed out the season with eight tackles versus Baylor in the Sugar Bowl. Daniels must be a pivotal player in Kirby’s 2020 pass defense.
- George Pickens – WIDE RECEIVER
All Dawgs love George Pickens. Talent oozes from this rising sophomore, but there is a side of young Pickens that he must get under control for George to reach first-round pick potential. If he can remain composed (no fighting/throat slash gestures) enough to avoid his rookie mistakes while improving his receiver skills, his second season at UGA will establish him as one of the most sought after players in the 2022 NFL draft. All Dawgs hope that his dominant Sugar Bowl performance is a signal of his maturation.
- Richard LeCounte – SAFETY
Georgia’s 2019 defense led the way, and the current roster is ready for another outstanding under the tutelage of defensive coordinator Dan Lanning. Still, to fulfill that potential, Lanning will need someone to replace the leadership provided by departed senior JR Reed. LeCounte has the talent and charisma to continue his development and lead a defense that everyone expects to be one of best in the nation, if he accepts Reed’s mantle.
- Monte Rice – LINEBACKER
The senior from Huntsville, Alabama, anchors the middle of Georgia’s defense. Rice has the talent and experience to build off last year’s success and to step forward to lead the team as a whole, transcending his role as a defensive leader. For the Dawgs to reach their goals in 2020, Rice must continue his hard-nosed anchor role in the middle as well as assuming a more significant team role
- Jamie Newman – QUARTERBACK
I know, I know Newman has not won the quarterback job, but the grad transfer from Wake Forest is going to be a massive presence for Kirby Smart in 2020. Newman arrives with maturity and experience. If he grabs the reins and leads the attack, the 2020 Dawgs will shake the underperformer meme and be in the playoff mix.