Ending this past Saturday’s practice, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart was in a better mood about the team heading into the first game.
From observing a majority of the fall camp practices, I am certain that this is Georgia’s most talented roster under Smart. There is just too much talent on both sides of the ball, and most positions have serious depth.
The only place that seems to be lacking is at the quarterback position. No doubt junior Jake Fromm (11) will start, but there is a huge gap between the starting position and the 2nd and 3rd strings. From what I have noticed, transfer Stetson Bennett (13) seems to be the best bet to be Fromm’s backup. Bennett can throw the long ball, but in the second scrimmage, Kirby mentioned that he struggled a little bit. Freshman D’Wan Mathis (2) seems to be the right fit to be the No. 3 guys. Mathis is very mobile and has great arm strength, but he is coming off brain surgery and hasn’t been cleared for contact as of yet, so there seems to be a question there. That leaves walk-ons Nathan Priestley (2) and John Seter (2), and I didn’t get to observe them much.
There is a reason that Georgia is called “Running Back U”, and the hype for Zamir White (3) is real. White looked really good in practice, and from what I can tell, he is 100 percent healthy. Junior D’Andre Swift (7) should have another 1,000-yard season if he can stay healthy, and senior Brian Herrien (35) should get some touches as well. Smart was excited about freshman Kenny McIntosh (6). I think McIntosh and sophomore James Cook (4) will play a vital role on special teams.
The wide receiver position is a big question mark that Georgia has had since the departure of Terry Godwin, Mecole Hardman, Riley Ridley, and Jayson Stanley to the NFL as especially so since the dismissal of Jeremiah Holloman, but the Bulldogs have depth here. It is just untested. Smart said in Saturday’s scrimmage a number of receivers had a lot of “explosive” plays. Senior Tyler Simmons (87) and junior Demetris Robertson (16) are the clear leaders in the WR room, but I think that a pair of freshman will step up big time in 2019. Dominick Blaylock (8) and George Pickens (1) will have breakout years in my opinion. Also look for Kearis Jackson (10), Matt Landers (5), and Trey Blount (14) along with the graduate transfer Lawrence Cager (15) to be productive wideouts as well.
Charlie Woerner (89) was the first-string tight end during most of camp. I think that Woerner is the clear starter because of his size, experience, great hands, and has turned into a reliable blocker. Graduate transfer Eli Wolf (17) in my opinion should be the next guy up. Wolf blocked really well during drills and has explosive speed. Behind them, redshirt freshman John Fitzpatrick (86) is a great No 3. Fitzpatrick has the size and with a year under his belt at UGA, just seems to have more knowledge of the offense than the guys behind him.
Georgia has one of the best offensive lines in the country, but the big battle in Fall Camp was for starting right guard. Junior Ben Cleveland (74) and sophomore Cade Mays (77) were rotating in and out at first-string during most of camp. Isaiah Wilson (79) at right tackle, Trey Hill (55) at center, Solomon Kindley (66) at left guard and Andrew Thomas (66) at left tackle are also poised to have big years.
On the D-line, I think that Georgia has a lot of talent and depth. Senior Tyler Clark (52) impressed me the most in camp with his great footwork, and the ability to get off the ball. Sophomore Jordan Davis (99) is another stud that should have a huge year. Senior Michail Carter (76) had an impressive camp too, and just like Clark his footwork and agility were spectacular. Seniors David Marshall (51) and Julian Rochester (5) along with graduate Michael Barnett (94) and junior Malik Herring (10) are also guys that will see a lot of playing time. Keep your eye on the freshman Travon Walker (44) too.
The linebacking core is also a position that will be exciting to watch. At inside linebacker, junior Monty Rice (32) and senior Tae Crowder (30) had good camps and should be starting this year. I didn’t get to see a lot of sophomore Quay Walker (25) but he will see valuable minutes at ILB. I also expect that sophomore Channing Tindall (41) should see a lot more action this season. And Nakobe Dean (17) is another freshman to keep your eye on as he is being praised by players for his work this Fall Camp.
At OLB, I also didn’t get to see much of Walter Grant (84), but he is coming off of a solid 2018 campaign. I expect Grant to be the main JACK OLB for Georgia headed into the season and sophomore Adam Anderson (19) should start at SAM OLB. Junior college transfer Jermaine Johnson (11) and redshirt freshman Azeez Ojulari (13) were rotating in and out of first-team reps during camp.
At the cornerback position, transfer D.J. Daniel (14) raised some eyebrows, but I think that redshirt sophomore Eric Stokes (27) will hold onto the starting job at left corner. Stokes has a lot of experience under his belt, but Daniel is a talented dark-horse. Another defensive back to watch for behind those two is redshirt sophomore Ameer Speed (9). At right cornerback, I think that sophomore Tyson Campbell (3) is the evident starter. At the STAR, juniors William Poole (31) and Mark Webb (23) along with redshirt freshman Divaad Wilson (8) are all battling for a start and playing time. At safety, senior J.R. Reed (20) and junior Richard LeCounte (2) are my two that are predicted to start. Senior Tyrique McGee (26) and freshman Lewis Cine (16) rotated interchangeably during camp with the second string.
Since seeing Fall Camp up close and personal, I got to witness just how impressive Smart’s team is headed into this season. With the official preseason rankings that just came out, there is no doubt in my mind that Georgia will be a force to be reckoned with in 2019. The Bulldogs lost a good bit of talent last year to the NFL Draft, but the terms “next man up” and “reload” really made sense to me once I got to see the team firsthand. Georgia returns a lot of starters and players that have experience, but the coaching staff also brought in a talented recruiting class. Now, it’s just a matter of time until we get to see what kind of team Smart really has put together.