ATHENS — Georgia football has been back to work for more than a week, sights set on starting spring practices on March 16 leading up to the annual G-Day Game on April 17.
The school has yet to officially announce the dates, but those are tentative dates set for Coach Kirby Smart and his Bulldogs.
Georgia released videos showing the team hard at work, with a season-opening game against Clemson in Charlotte on Sept. 4 grabbing everyone’s attention.
— Georgia Football (@GeorgiaFootball) January 27, 2021
The Tigers bring back all of the defensive starters from a team that captured its sixth straight ACC Championship and made the College Football Playoffs each of those past six seasons.
The Bulldogs have more than 95 percent of their offensive production returning, but the defensive backfield will be in overhaul mode with four of the five starting defensive backs from last season’s opener moving on.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart took a step toward addressing what will be a rebuilt backfield on Wednesday when he announced the hiring of secondary coach Jahmile Addae.
“We are excited to add Jahmile to our staff and to welcome he and his family to Athens,” Smart said in a school release. “Having been an all-conference safety himself while playing for West Virginia, we feel like Jahmile will boost our team both as a former player who understood the game as well as with his knowledge from coaching at a high level over the last decade.”
Smart, like Addae, was an all-conference safety during his career with the Bulldogs.
Interestingly enough, both men also had short stints coaching running backs — Addae at Cincinnati under Butch Jones, and Smart at UGA under Mark Richt in 2005.
Addae is from Valrico, Fla., and is expected to help Georgia maintain its strong recruiting in the Sunshine State.
Finishing off a strong 2021 signing class is another key item on the agenda.
Here are three things Georgia must get done before the start of spring drills on March 16.
Incoming freshman defensive back Terrion Arnold tops the list, but the Bulldogs are in a battle with Alabama and Florid on the services of the Tallahassee, Fla., product.
The transfer portal seems to have slowed down, but if the right name pops into it, Georgia will be quick to pounce as immediate help and depth is needed in the secondary.
The Bulldogs have lost nine scholarship players since the end of the 2019 season, including four transfers.
Get synced up
Georgia quarterback JT Daniels is known as much for his off-field leadership as his on-field skills, and team chemistry is the sort of thing that evolves in offseason workouts.
The Bulldogs were hurt last offseason by COVID as much as any program in the country when one considers there was a brand-new offensive coordinator in place, along with a challenge to replace three-year starter Jake Fromm under center.
Daniels is the sort of take-charge player with the ability to organize film sessions with pass catchers to ensure the Bulldogs’ offense is in sync from the first game against Clemson.
There are several well-stocked positions where Georgia figures to benefit greatly from what should be healthy competition.
The offensive line and the backfield are two such spots, as the Bulldogs have recruited so well that former 4-star and 5-star recruits might not be able to earn starting spots or even keep their jobs.
The left tackle position is particularly interesting with returning redshirt freshman Xavier Truss looking to build off his Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl performance but returning freshman Broderick Jones and incoming freshman Amarius Mums capable of challenging for the job.
The running back position is also interesting, as assistant Dell McGee pledges to all recruits that he will play the best player. Redshirt sophomore Zamir White got the starts last season, but junior James Cook returned for another year intent on upping his production.
Returning sophomore Kenny McIntosh and freshman Kendall Milton both figure to make big jumps as each will be going through their first full spring sessions barring another Covid stoppage.
Milton was the most powerful runner last season, breaking more tackles than any other UGA back, per PFF metrics.
McIntosh was the most versatile and exhibited the best vision, showing the ability to run the ball or catch out of the backfield.