Georgia coach Kirby Smart already knew his 2023 team was going to bring back more talent than his 2022 team did. Many key faces will return for Georgia next season, meaning the Bulldogs will have to face a different sort of challenge in their quest to win another national championship.
“I personally think next year is going to be a much more difficult challenge over this year because we had so many guys leaving last year,” Smart said after Georgia beat TCU 65-7. “We got a lot of guys coming back.”
A handful of those players are expected to be among the best in the country next season. You already know some of the top names, with Brock Bowers returning for his third year on campus. He led Georgia in receiving in each of his first two years on campus. He won the Mackey Award this past season, which is given annually to the nation’s top tight end.
Bowers is expected to retain that crown in 2023, as Bowers was one of four Bulldogs to make ESPN’s ‘Way-Too-Early’ All-American Team for the 2023 season. Joining Bowers on the list is linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson, safety Malaki Starks and defensive end Mykel Williams.
Bowers, Dumas-Johnson and Starks were all regular starters for Georgia this past season. Williams is one of the many defensive linemen Georgia rotates into the game. But none were more productive than the Columbus, Ga., product as he led the team with 4.5 sacks.
And that was what he was able to do as a freshman.
“From the time Williams set foot on campus, Georgia coach Kirby Smart was raving about his work ethic,” Low wrote. “And, yes, his talent. Williams didn’t disappoint as a true freshman and is next in line to be the dynamic front-seven defender everybody is talking about at Georgia. The 6-5, 265-pound Williams was a freshman. He tied with Jalen Carter for the team lead in quarterback hurries (31) and will be terrorizing opposing SEC offenses for two more seasons.”
Williams and Starks are both entering their second year in the Georgia football program, while Bowers and Dumas-Johnson will be in their third year at Georgia.
Georgia had two unanimous First-Team All-Americans in 2022 but the Bulldogs will have to replace both of them in Chris Smith and Carter.
As for some other players to watch who could emerge as potential All-Americans, linebacker Smael Mondon, defensive tackle Bear Alexander, cornerback Kamari Lassiter and Sedrick Van Pran all fit the profile of players who could do big things next season. Georgia is still waiting on Van Pran’s NFL decision as of this writing, while the other three players are not draft eligible yet.
Michigan, Notre Dame and Alabama all placed two players on Low’s All-American list, with Georgia being the most represented school with four. The Bulldogs also sit at No. 1 in ESPN’s ‘Way-Too-Early’ Top 25 rankings for next season.
Georgia does have to replace some key pieces next year, including quarterback Stetson Bennett, Carter, Smith, offensive tackle Broderick Jones and cornerback Kelee Ringo. Georgia did sign the nation’s No. 2 signing class for the 2023 cycle, once again bringing in one of the best hauls in the country.
Combine that with some of the talented players Georgia brings back and you can see why the Bulldogs are once again favored to win it all next season, as difficult as it might be.
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