kirby smart-arik gilbert-2023 nfl draft
041622 Athens: Georgia wide receiver Arik Gilbert (14) runs after a catch during the G - Day game at Sanford Stadium Saturday, April 16, 2022, in Athens, Ga. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

ESPN updates Georgia football rankings in ‘Way-Too-Early’ Top 25

With spring practice wrapped up for most teams around the country, ESPN has taken the opportunity to update its ‘Way-Too-Early’ Top 25 rankings for the 2022 season.

Georgia football came in at No. 3, the same spot it had in the previous update. Writer Mark Schlabach took notice of Georgia’s tight ends on G-Day, even though the Bulldogs were without star Brock Bowers.

“There’s plenty of firepower coming back on offense, especially if onetime LSU transfer Arik Gilbert continues to progress after missing all of last season because of personal reasons,” Schlabach wrote. “All-American tight end Brock Bowers missed the spring after undergoing shoulder surgery, but he should be ready by the start of preseason camp.”

Gilbert did not play for the Bulldogs last season after stepping away from the team in August. He re-joined the team in January and began to work himself back into being a contributing member of the Georgia football team.

The scary thing about Gilbert and his development is that head coach Kirby Smart thinks Gilbert could still get better.

“He lost a lot of weight, but just what he’s been through and overcome is such a great story, but he’s not where he needs to be,” Smart said. “He’ll be the first to tell you he’s got to continue to grow, to get in shape, to change his body, and he can get an opportunity to help us.  With the two other guys we’ve got coming back, it makes it a luxury of those guys being able to make us a special football team.”

Related: ‘Arik is a beast’: Teammates rave about Arik Gilbert after strong Georgia football spring performance

Gilbert was not the only tight end to shine on G-Day, with freshman Oscar Delp catching seven passes for 91 yards on the afternoon. Brett Seither also hauled in two passes for 33 yards. Bowers and Darnell Washington are both expected to return to the Bulldogs for the start of fall camp, as the latter missed spring with what Smart said was a lower extremity injury.

As for where some of Georgia’s 2022 opponents rank on ESPN’s updated rankings, Oregon is Georgia’s highest-ranked opponent for the 2022 season as the Ducks come in at No. 16. Oregon will be led by first-year head coach Dan Lanning, who previously served as the defensive coordinator at Georgia.

Kentucky and Tennessee also land in the rankings, coming in at No. 21 and No. 24 respectively. Georgia plays both of those schools in November, as the Bulldogs host Tennessee on Nov. 5 and visit Kentucky on Nov. 19. Alabama came in at No. 1 and Ohio State was at No. 2 in the rankings.

The game against Oregon is scheduled for Sept. 3 and will be played in Atlanta. A game time and TV Network have not yet been announced for the game.

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