Georgia was focused and ready to hunt heading into the national championship. The Dawgs crushed TCU 65-7 to capture their second straight national championship on January 9th. The Dawgs faithful wouldn’t have to wait another 41 years between championships. The Transfer Portal was not on the minds of most fans leading up to or after the game.
TWICE AS NICE 🏆
— UGA (@universityofga) January 11, 2023
The Transfer Portal hung around college football, message boards, and Twitter throughout the postseason. While many teams faced the distraction of playing their bowl games without starters, Georgia’s football team remained largely unaffected and focused. However, eight Georgia players entered the Transfer Portal following the national championship game.
The first portal window closed on January 18th. Players that entered their name in the portal by the deadline have the ability to transfer to the university of their choice and not have to sit out a year. More than 1200 players entered the Transfer Portal in the 45-day window between December and January. Research shows that almost 30% of Power 5 players that enter the portal won’t find another scholarship.
2022 Bulldogs in the Transfer Portal
The enticements of NIL and playing time can be of greater importance to a player than waiting your turn or winning a championship. 10 Georgia players entered the Early Transfer Portal. Georgia fans filled message boards and Twitter with a sense of nervousness. Was the team coming part? Was it all too good to last? Is this the end?
Remain calm Dawgs, all is well. Here are the current Dawgs in the portal. Bill Norton and Arik Gilbert were the only players to enter the Transfer Portal before the start of the College Football Playoff.
|Adonai “AD” Mitchell||WR||Texas|
|Brett Seither||TE||Georgia Tech|
Five of the 10 players that entered the portal are with new teams. Per the NCAA, it is up to the school to determine if they will continue to honor the athlete’s scholarship while in the portal. There is no obligation to do so now that they are in the new academic semester. There is a chance that some of the players could return. Dawg fans had their eyes on just one: AD Mitchell.
Most of the Georgia players in the portal are either backups or are unable to break into the two-deep. Mitchell’s announcement that he was entering the portal put a slight panic among many Dawg fans.
“All he does is catch touchdowns.” Buddy Ryan used this phrase to describe Hall of Fame receiver Chris Carter. While that quote wasn’t exactly a compliment to Carter, it’s an accurate description of Mitchell’s career with Georgia. The Sophmore wideout has seven touchdowns in his career, four of which have come in Georgia’s four playoff games during the last two seasons.
4 Games, 4 Touchdowns.
AD Mitchell was different in the playoffs 😤pic.twitter.com/Qv7BgZNN7A
— The Players' Lounge (@ThPlayersLounge) January 18, 2023
The moment doesn’t get too big for Mitchell. In the 2021 championship game against Alabama, Mitchell caught a 40-yard pass from Stetson Bennett to put the Dawgs out in front. This year, he caught the game-winning touchdown in the final minute against the Buckeyes in the semifinals.
Mitchell has two years of eligibility remaining and announced he was entering the portal on the 18th. He announced last Friday night that he is returning home to Texas to join the Longhorns. At Texas, Mitchell will be the go-to receiver and not have to compete with a crowded receiving room and All-American tight end Brock Bowers for catches.
While it may be disappointing for Dawg fans to lose Mitchell, head coach Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs are prepared.
2022 Transfers to Georgia
Smart didn’t use the Transfer Portal much in 2021. He brought in only one player, Joseph Daniel Jr. from Indiana. The graduate transfer didn’t register a statistic in 2022. Smart’s never been one to be shy about bringing in transfer. Knowing he was in need of a quarterback in 2020, he brought in Jamie Newman and JT Daniels to compete for the starting job.
2023 will see at least three new transfers come in to compete for a starting position. All three come from within the SEC and at least two of the three should have an instant impact on the roster.
|Smoke Bouie||CB||Texas A&M|
|Rara Thomas||WR||Mississippi State|
Smoke Bouie was a 4-start athlete coming out of Bainbridge, Georgia before he signed with Texas A&M in 2022. He appeared in seven games for the Aggies, playing mostly on special teams. While he may not earn starting reps next year, he will add depth to the secondary.
Rara Thomas is a long and rangy wide receiver. He caught 12 touchdowns and averaged 14.2 yards per catch in his two years in Stark Vegas. He will be a nice 50/50 ball option for Georgia’s young quarterbacks next year to complement Bowers.
In addition, Smart also brought in East St. Louis native Dominic Lovett from Missouri. Lovett led the Tigers in receptions and yards in 2022. His big-play ability gives Todd Monken another tool to attack opposing defenses.
Wide receiver – Dominic Lovett
846 receiving yards
3 receiving touchdowns pic.twitter.com/Gk7DklQA2n
— GaBulldogsFB (@GABulldogsFB) January 13, 2023
The New Guys
Smart was complimentary of both players at the College Football Playoff press conference in December. His familiarity with them as recruits and playing in the SEC were two factors in bringing them in.“We knew about those kids coming out of high school, and think a lot of them. They performed at a high level in our conference, and I think they’ll challenge and compete with the rest of our roster and be competitive wideouts, which is important in this conference.”
Let’s do it all again May
Georgia and the rest of college football will have to navigate the Transfer Portal once again in May. The later portal is open from May 1st to May 15th. This provides players an opportunity to see where they fit on their roster after Spring practice.
All eyes will be on the quarterback position during Spring camp. Carson Beck, Brock Vandagriff, and Gunner Stockton are poised to take over for Bennett. Unlike their walk-on, JUCO predecessor, each of these quarterbacks was four of five-star recruits coming out of high school.
It would not be a shock for one or two of them to enter the portal if they feel that there is a primary or lead candidate going into the Fall. Regardless of the outcome, Kirby Smart could still bring in an experienced quarterback to compete or as an insurance policy if any of the quarterbacks falter. Chance Nolan (Oregon State) and Dylan Hopkins (UAB) are two names that come to mind.
Georgia fans can rest assured Smart will use the same aggression they showed in the national championship to make sure the roster is ready for 2023.