ESPN-Georgia football-excuses
Kirby Smart enters his sixth season as Georgia's head coach (John Raoux/AP)
John Raoux

ESPN on Georgia’s recent transfer additions: ‘No more excuses’

Georgia added seven players to its updated online roster on Wednesday. Four of those were 2021 signees in Dylan Fairchild, Jared Wilson, Jamon Dumas-Johnson and Kamari Lassiter.

But it’s the other three players who have really turned the heads of the national media. That would be cornerback Derion Kendrick, who will wear No. 11, wide receiver Arik Gilbert, who will wear No. 14, and defensive back Tykee Smith, who will wear No. 23.

Related: Georgia updated roster: Arik Gilbert at WR, transfer defensive back not listed

Kendrick, Gilbert and Smith all have experience at the Power 5 level and should help ease the concerns Georgia had at defensive back and wide receiver. The Bulldogs had four defensive backs drafted in the 2021 NFL Draft and saw leading wide receiver George Pickens suffer a torn ACL in spring practice.

Those additions make Georgia’s talented roster even more loaded. The Bulldogs bring back quarterback JT Daniels to lead an offense that should take the next step. For areas where Georgia does have to replace some of its past contributors, the Bulldogs are brimming with former top recruits.

All this talent is why some see Georgia as a very clear College Football Playoff participant and a possible favorite to win a national championship.

ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg went as far as to say the time is now for Kirby Smart and Georgia to at least get back to the College Football Playoff this season.

“There are no more excuses in Athens,” Rittenberg wrote. “Georgia has the roster, both now and in the immediate future, to return to the CFP. If the Bulldogs’ four-decade national-title drought doesn’t end in the next three years, their fans should be massively disappointed.”

Related: What a 12-team College Football Playoff would mean for Georgia football

In the same piece, Rittenberg ranked Georgia as the No. 5 team in his future power rankings, which projected programs out over the next three seasons. Rittenberg did use similar rhetoric when describing No. 3 Ohio State, saying, “Anything less than a national title before 2024 should leave Ohio State fans extremely disappointed.”

The Bulldogs haven’t made it to the College Football Playoff since 2017. While the Bulldogs took a step back in 2020, both 2018 and 2019 saw Georiga lose in the SEC championship game to the eventual national champion. Ohio State, Clemson and Oklahoma have not faced that same barrier when it comes to making the College Football Playoff.

Alabama will be a drastically different team this year, as the Crimson Tide has to replace six first-round draft picks as well as offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.

TAlabama still figures to be a problem at the end of the season for Georgia. Which is why the additions of Kendrick, Smith and most specifically Gilbert loom so large.

Gilbert had 35 catches for LSU last season after arriving as one of the most-hyped prospects in the 2020 cycle.

Georgia has listed Gilbert as a wide receiver as opposed to a tight end, which was his position at LSU. At 6-foot-5 and 248 pounds, Georgia will use Gilbert on the outside as a replacement for Pickens.

When paired with Darnell Washington — who stands at 6-foot-7 and 265 pounds — the two figure to create a number of problems for opposing defenses.

It’s why the Gilbert addition was called one of the top transfer additions per Barrett Sallee of CBS Sports.

“If (Georgia offensive coordinator Todd) Monken sends those two up the seam, there isn’t a team in America that can stop it,” Sallee wrote. “Their presence will make the job of the wide receivers a lot easier, which is going to be a nice luxury for quarterback JT Daniels.”

The Bulldogs will get a chance to see early on if they have a championship-caliber team as they open the season against the Clemson Tigers. Clemson has made the College Football Playoff in each of the past six seasons and will once again have a strong team to start the 2021 season.

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