After a breakout second year in Athens, Kirby Smart faces well-documented roster upheaval in his third campaign. Three top 10 recruiting classes, including the latest No. 1 ranked class, should help fill major holes left by matriculation. Here are eight emerging Bulldogs to keep an eye out for in the 2018 football season.
MONTY RICE (SOPHOMORE) Playing with the No. 2 defense on G-Day and therefore facing the second string offense, Monty left marks on the opposition with a Roquan-like 14 tackles. All four linebackers who started the national championship game have left the program, and Rice’s big spring game begs consideration.
Richard LeCounte III (SOPHOMORE) Would be a good name for a vampire. Playing alongside veterans J.R. Reed and Deandre Baker in the retooled Georgia secondary, LeCounte will be counted on to make plays on the ball. His unchaining interception on G-Day may have sparked a savage blood thirst for creating turnovers.
Brenton Cox (FRESHMAN)The five-star outside linebacker may be the premium edge rusher of the immediate future. Like, say, September. Sacks were clearly not the strong point of the otherwise vaunted 2017 defense, which funneled action to the middle of the field more and more as the season progressed. It worked, but consistent edge pressure remains the more orthodox method to shortening plays.
Ahkil Crumpton (SENIOR) Diminutive Los Angeles Valley College transfer Crumpton may bring a Hollywood-worthy jitterbug elusiveness missing since Isaiah “Joystick” McKenzie left school early. Surprising to some, Ahkil did not get many opportunities in 2018 outside of his 78-yard touchdown catch at Georgia Tech.
Jeremiah Holloman (SOPHOMORE) “J.J.” has all the physical tools to crack the receiver rotation and make an impact. With glue-handed Javon Wims gone and guys struggling to complete the tougher grabs on G-Day, the opportunities are there.
Brian Herrien (JUNIOR) Since scoring a key touchdown on his first career carry, in Kirby Smart’s first game as a head coach, fans have undervalued the versatility of the often forgotten man in the Georgia rushing stable. Kirby trusts him, though.
Justin Fields (FRESHMAN) While it remains doubtful Smart would want to start any true freshman in game one, as he has yet to do so and returns the SEC champion quarterback, Georgia fans have seen short runs of starters both years of his tenure. Barring injury, Fromm should get the nod to defend his throne. The schedule shows two cupcakes and two tough SEC East road games in the first four games. Surely expect to see Justin early, and the how and why will play itself out.
JAKE FROMM (SOPHOMORE) How could the starting quarterback still be considered to be emerging? 2017 was Roquan’s team, Sony and Chubb’s team. The nastiest defender in the country and the top running back duo in NCAA history leaving left an obvious leadership void. Also, Georgia did not have to throw it much to win with two thousand-yard rushers and the defense getting the ball back. Fromm flung some beautiful deep balls that came up incomplete on G-Day. He struggled to complete the 50-50 balls that were usually successes in the championship year, with sure-handed Terry Godwin II playing quite sparingly due to lingering soreness. The reemergence of freshman All-American tight end Isaac Nauta as a pass catcher, after just nine catches as a sophomore in 2018, could benefit Jake’s progress immensely. Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney is the new position coach of the tight ends, and it behooves him to re-involve the position in Fromm’s arsenal.