Kirby Smart, the Georgia Bulldogs staff and team, and the entire Dawg Nation received immense amounts of good news on Monday. Starting quarterback JT Daniels made his return for his redshirt junior season social media official. Standout defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt and versatile starting running back James Cook followed suit. Wyatt of course was a senior this past season for Georgia, but the NCAA is not counting the 2020 season against any player’s eligibility, allowing Wyatt to return. James Cook is one of Georgia’s biggest playmakers and will provide an electrifying and veteran presence to lead the Georgia running back group.
Cook’s return could prove even bigger than it appeared to be on Monday should Zamir White decide to take his talents to the NFL. If White does leave, having the quartet of Cook, Kendall Milton, Kenny McIntosh, and Daijun Edwards in the backfield for the Dawgs before even getting to incoming freshman Lovasea Carroll ensures as much depth and talent in at the running back position as any school in the country. Cook also provides diversity to the Georgia running back portfolio, he much more of an outside sweep and pass catching threat than the other three returners.
Much like Cook’s return, that of Wyatt is multi-faceted. Of course Georgia will be getting back a talented, experienced, and reliable interior defender, but they’ll also be getting back a leader. Malik Herring and Azeez Ojulari are both headed to the professional ranks and with them goes a lot of leadership, both vocal and by example. Wyatt will have an opprotunity to fill that void and could form one of the nation’s best interior defensive line duos along side mammoth defensive tackle Jordan Davis. Davis has yet to make an official decision or announcement on his future, but at this point it would seem like the 6’6″ 320+ pounder could be slated to return to Athens.
Finally, it cannot be overstated how much the return of JT Daniels means to the championship prospects of the 2021-2022 Georgia Bulldogs football team. In Daniels, Georgia has found a quarterback that has proven himself able to deliver the ball accurately, stretch the field, navigate the pocket, handle pressure, and read coverages. Having a returning starter, especially one with the high football acumen that Daniels possesses, will allow Georgia to be lightyears ahead of where they started the 2020 season. Much like the 2020 season, this offseason is likely to still be impacted by COVID protocols, so the added familiarity with the returning receiving core and with Todd Monken’s system through games is a huge benefit for Georgia. Unfinished business seems to be the mantra these returning star players. No doubt Smart’s 2021 squad will be one of, if not the most talented he’s ever had.