ATLANTA — Georgia football coach Kirby Smart said his Bulldogs have “dormant ability” that has yet to be proven, and the media voting on preseason All-SEC honors appear to agree.
Defending SEC Champion Georgia returns seven starters on offense, but none of them were deemed worthy of first-team recognition by the select panel.
Quarterback Jake Fromm, who finished second in the SEC and ninth in the nation in passing efficiency last season, settled for splitting third-team honors with Mississippi State’s Nick Fitzgerald.
Bulldogs kicker Rodrigo Blankenship and defensive backs Deandre Baker and J.R. Reed were the only Georgia players to earn first-team honors released Friday.
Alabama, which did not play in the SEC Championship Game but won the national title as the No. 4 seed in the College Football Playoffs, had seven first-team selections.
The Bulldogs did have several players selected to second-team preseason All-SEC honors.
On offense, tailback D’Andre Swift, receiver Terry Godwin, tight end Isaac Nauta, offensive tackle Andrew Thomas and center Lamont Gaillard were chosen.
Defensive lineman Jonathan Ledbetter and linebacker D’Andre Walker were second-team picks on defense, while return specialist Mecole Hardman was also recognized.
Georgia’s only third-team pick was Fromm.
Smart might have sensed that his Bulldogs had something left to prove despite their magic run to the SEC title and national championship game.
“It’s what is our potential, which is dormant ability, or our effectiveness, which is what we get out of our players?” Smart said during his presentation to the Georgia media contingent at the Omni Hotel prior to his SEC Media Days appearance.
“We’re constantly trying to get the most out of them, and this year will be measured by how effective we are tactically, mentally (and) physically. We have to do the best job we’ve ever done preparing this group for that.”
Indeed, because if Georgia lacks any first-team All-SEC selections at the end of the season, there’s a good chance it would mean the Bulldogs failed to defend their SEC crown.
Preseason All-SEC First Team Selections