As we anxiously endure the next five months until college football returns, fans will use every opportunity to talk about the upcoming season. Spring football is here, and the scrimmage games are only weeks away. While Georgia football lost a lot of firepower to the NFL, there are still a few players and groups that are worth keeping an eye on during spring camp.
Wide Receiver Core:
The receiver group probably warrants the most attention from fans this offseason due to the departures. Georgia lost three major contributors in Terry Godwin, Riley Ridley, and Mecole Hardman to graduation or the NFL. The lead returning receiver from last season is rising junior J.J. Holloman, who had 418 yards and five touchdowns. He has the potential to be Jake Fromm’s number one option for the 2019 season. The rest of the depth chart is up in the air. Demetris Robertson is an interesting candidate. The transfer from Cal is a former five-star talent but struggled to get playing time last season. Robertson had issues catching and blocking, but a whole offseason working with Strength and Conditioning Coach Scott Sinclair will do wonders.
Tyler Simmons is currently facing some legal trouble after last weekend’s arrest, but once that clears up, he should be a factor as well. He has the speed to blow by SEC defenses along with the size. Incoming freshman Dominick Blaylock hopes to make an early impact as an early enrollee. He was ranked as the number five receiver in high school last year and possesses the ideal body type and speed for a slot receiver. Kirby Smart has gone as far as saying their receiver position is “thin,” so expect an open competition all spring with each player having a chance to play.
Since Kirby Smart took over as Georgia’s head coach, the team has seen new heights. However, the defensive line, as well as getting to the quarterback, has been a step or two behind the rest of the team. Smart has taken notice, and his goal for the 2019 season is to cause more havoc in the backfield. With the talent returning and coming in, that havoc should be accomplished. The defensive front should have a deep 2019 group, as Jonathan Ledbetter is the only significant loss. Jordan Davis, Malik Herring, Tyler Clark, and Julian Rochester are all key contributors who will return.
Jordan Davis was especially impressive once he got his footing, as he started the second half of the season and gave Georgia the anchor they needed. David Marshall missed the second half of the season with a foot injury, but he is healthy now and has been impressive when healthy in his time in Athens. There is also a five-star duo coming in from the 2019 recruiting class, Travon Walker and Nolan Smith. Smith has only been on campus for a few weeks, but he is already raising some eyebrows in camp. Walker will not arrive until June, but keep an eye on these two freshmen throughout the offseason.
Elijah Holyfield declared early for the draft, so D’andre Swift will no doubt be the workhorse. He ran for 1,049 yards and 10 touchdowns himself, and he should be on many early Heisman lists. The last two seasons, Swift has shared touches with the likes of Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, and Holyfield. Kirby Smart went on the record saying, “We’ve got to find a way to get him more touches,” via Dawg Nation.
The only question for the running backs is: Who will be the number two option? Georgia fans want to see Zamir White healthy, and they should get a chance for their first glimpse at the spring game on April 20th. White is coming off two ACL tears which made him miss last season, but coaches say the former five-star is back to his former self. The staff will need to work him in slowly, so James Cook may take an early portion of carries until White is caught up to speed. Cook possesses the shiftiness and rare ability to explode through gaps when given very little space. However, he did not get as many carries as he would want in 2018. He had 41 carries for 284 yards. Most of the damage came late against weaker opponents. Cook will have his chance to prove he is the right second option. Swift will be the featured back, and any of the named backs are more than capable to fill that void.
Kirby Smart preaches competition at every position. That is exactly what he has for this spring. It seems that almost every position group is in open competition. The season is still a few months away, but the time to impress coaches starts now.