Georgia has recruited at such a high level over the last 4 to 5 years that there are always prospects that are quality football players that tend to get lost in the shuffle at times. Let’s face it, the jump from high school to the FBS level is difficult for every athlete, no matter the talent level, from a physical, mental, and emotional standpoint. Take those challenges to the next level in the SEC. Not every player is going to get to be on the field right away and unfortunately, at times, for fan bases and the media it can often be a case of out of sight, out of mind. Today we look at some players at each position on the offensive side of the ball that are going underrated and overlooked heading into spring practice.
QUARTERBACK: Many people are going to roll their eyes at this one. However, having Stetson Bennett IV back on the team, as of now, is a tremendous asset next year for Georgia. Lord willing, JT Daniels and Brock Vandagriff are able to navigate the 2021 season healthy, but each has a history of lower body injuries. Also, Vandagriff is undoubtedly more talented and physically suited for SEC competition, but at the end of the day he’s a freshmen. If a situation occurs once again like it did at Arkansas this past season where Georgia finds themselves rudderless on offense so to speak, being able to turn to a guy that has starting experience in an emergency would be a big deal. Yes, I know Carson Beck is still on the roster. Let’s move on.
RUNNING BACK: Daijun Edwards may be the most overlooked player on the offensive side of the ball for the Dawgs that could play the biggest role. Plain and simple, Edwards is a downhill runner than has impeccable instincts with the ball in his hands. Having started for 4 season at Colquitt County in high school, facing the premier talent in the state and the country week in and week out, Edwards is used to a heavy workload against stiff competition. Despite a loaded backfield, I look for Edwards to be used even more in his sophomore season, on special teams as well as in 1 and 2 back sets on offense. Edwards is also a gifted pass catcher and can be aligned all over the field in similar fashion to James Cook.
RECEIVER: Too many to name just 1 here. Georgia is the deepest they’ve been in recent memory at the wide out position. If I had to pinpoint some guys that are set to make an impact in 2021 that were quiet in 2020, I’d point to Ladd McConkey, Justin Robinson, and Dominick Blaylock. Of course Blaylock had his 2nd year at Georgia taken from him thanks to a torn ACL in the SEC Championship versus LSU in 2019. Blaylock was the #2 options for Fromm that season and at times was the most reliable target for the Dawgs. If Blaylock can return to form, it will be huge for the Dawgs. Justin Robinson also was plagued by injuries in 2020. Kirby Smart mentioned multiple times that Robinson was progressing and working hard but he was hampered by nagging soft tissue issues. Robinson is a big bodied outside receiver that adds great depth behind Georg Pickens and Kearis Jackson, and could certainly find himself taking any snaps that Matt Landers has taken in the past for the Dawgs in 2021.
McConkey was a late signee for the Dawgs in an unclear role and scholarship situation for Georgia in 2020. The utility player for North Murray High School turned SEC slot man was probably 150 pound soaking wet coming into UGA. A year in the strength and conditioning program and to learn the receiver position has really benefitted McConkey and it won’t be shocking to see him utilized some in the slot this year and possibly even as a punt or kick returner.
TIGHT END: If it’s possible for a returning starter on a top 10 ten in the country to overrated, then consider John FitzPatrick overrated. FitzPatrick emerged as the primary tight end target for the Dawgs early on in the 2020 season with talented, gigantic, freshman sensation Darnell Washington still establishing himself. The performance late in the season by Washington in 2020 and the arrival of uber talented 2021 early enrollee Brock Bowers are going to have many forgetting about the production FitzPatrick was able to provide for Georgia this past year in the passing game and as a run blocker. FitzPatrick had the best game of his career in the Peach Bowl with 4 catches for 41 yards and he’s a leader as well. Kirby Smart does not hesitate to send FitzPatrick out to represent the team in media availabilities and he does a great job of navigating divisive questions and is a team first player.
OFFENSIVE LINE: Much like the receiver position, just packed with talent and depth in this group. The guys that are going to make the biggest jump in 2021 in my opinion are Broderick Jones and Tate Ratledge. It’s hard to have to 5-Star tackles that are “overlooked”, but seeing as how neither played any meaningful snaps this past year, many Georgia fans and those not closely following the team may have forgotten the talent haul that Matt Luke scored in the 2020 class. Ratledge is going to be a player that can help Georgia at multiple positions in 2021 and Broderick Jones is a true candidate to be the starting Left Tackle. Many will be looking for Amarius Mims to be in the mix right away, but regardless of size, and talent level, it’s difficult to play and, or start right away at the SEC level. With a year in the program under their belts, the talent level of Broderick and Tate should really shine through this spring for Georgia.