Injuries hampered both Arian Smith and Kelee Ringo in their respective first seasons on campus.
Smith suffered a knee injury in July that kept him from seeing the field until Georgia’s Nov. 28 game against South Carolina.
Ringo was lost for the season in August when he had to have surgery on a torn labrum stemming from his high school days.
The two players were two of the top players in the 2020 recruiting class. Ringo was the No. 4 overall player while Smith came in as the No. 59 overall player in the 247Sports Composite rankings.
Due to their long absences, both players ended up redshirting last season. But the lack of playing time in 2020 hasn’t dimmed their prospects entering the 2021 season.
Two different national publications this week identified the Bulldogs as potential breakout players in this coming year.
ESPN’s Tom Luginbill identified Ringo as one of the top redshirt freshmen entering the 2021 season.
“His contribution to the secondary has been long awaited, and his skill as a one-on-one cover man should leave Georgia in more than capable hands,” Luginbill wrote.
Luginbill also pointed to Ringo’s speed as a reason for his high ceiling. The only player on Georgia’s team who might be faster than Ringo is Smith.
“Smith has speed that you can’t teach. He’s the type of explosive downfield threat the Bulldogs have been missing, and he’s finally healthy after battling multiple knee injuries. He fits in the slot or at either receiver position,” the magazine wrote.
Georgia did briefly lose Smith during spring practice to a sprained wrist but he was able to play in the G-Day game. He did not have a catch in the game, though he did get behind the defense on multiple occasions.
Ringo had three tackles in the game while repping with the second-team Georgia defense.
The duo has potential, but they don’t have a clear path to playing time. The Georgia wide receiver position is loaded as it brings back Jermaine Burton, Kearis Jackson and others. The Bulldogs also recently brought in LSU transfer Arik Gilbert to contribute at the position.
Related: The fun problem Georgia faces of maximizing of Arik Gilbert and Darnell Washington
Georgia has to replace its top four cornerbacks from last season, but Ringo was behind Ameer Speed and fellow redshirt freshman Jalen Kimber coming out of spring practice. Then Georgia went out and landed Clemson cornerback Derion Kendrick via the transfer portal.
Ringo and Smith will need to continue to improve ahead of the 2021 season if they are going to crack what should be a talented Georgia lineup. It speaks to the overall talent the Bulldogs have where these two players are being tabbed as breakout candidates when they’re not yet guaranteed playing time.
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