ATHENS — Georgia football didn’t add Jamie Newman until January, but Kirby Smart revealed the Wake Forest graduate transfer had been on the Bulldogs’ radar long before then.
It only seemed Newman came out of nowhere.
“We had researched the entire year with the thought that Jake (Fromm) would have the opportunity to come out early, so we had a pool of 30 or 40 guys that we thought had the potential,” Smart said at his National Signing Day press conference on Wednesday at Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall.
“Whether they were transfers, whether they were grad transfers, whatever it may be, we knew we could possibly be in the quarterback market.”
Newman had considered transferring from Wake Forest the previous offseason, an ACC head coach told DawgNation last month.
Smart likely knew that, too, and once again, was a step ahead in the process.
The UGA staff had been talking to Newman since he entered the NCAA Transfer Portal on Dec. 31, and was thus poised to spring into action when Fromm announced on Jan. 8 he was declaring for the 2020 NFL Draft.
“Once Jamie went into the portal and we knew he was going to be a graduate transfer, we started communication immediately,” Smart said “It was a process of finding out if what he wanted aligned with what we wanted, and also waiting to see what Jake was going to do.”
Smart said he considered freshman early enrollee QB Carson Beck among the pool of players Georgia felt had the potential to step up should Fromm leave.
The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Newman and Beck are among four scholarship quarterbacks competing for the starting duties this spring.
Redshirt junior Stetson Bennett and redshirt freshman D’Wan Mathis are the other scholarship players in the quarterback room.
Newman was 220-of-361 passing last season for 2,868 yards with 26 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He also had 574 yards rushing and 6 rushing touchdowns out of the Demon Deacons’ modified spread offense.
Newman announced his commitment to Georgia on Jan. 11 via his Twitter account, concluding that “this journey will surely be one that I will never ever forget!”
Bulldogs’ fans certainly hope not.
Pro Football Focus, which measures and documents weekly college and NFL analytics, ranked Newman as the No. 3 returning quarterback in college football behind Justin Fields and Trevor Lawrence.
According to one Las Vegas sports book, Newman ranks among the top Heisman Trophy candidates with 14-to-1 odds. Only Lawrence, Fields and Oklahoma State QB Spencer Rattler had better opening odds.
ESPN GameDay analyst and former Georgia football legend David Pollack was among the first to jump on board the Newman hype train.
“Dude is a stud!” Pollack tweeted. “Size and athletic ability to go with a great arm, accuracy, and a phenomenal deep ball! Not many more guys talented in the country.”
Former Georgia coach Mark Richt, who provides TV analysis for the ACC Network, told DawgNation that “I would not be shocked to see him become the best quarterback in the Southeastern Conference next season. I think he’s that good.”
Anthony Timmons, Newman’s head coach at Graham (N.C.) High School, remembers how the new UGA grad-transfer QB took over as a starter in his program.
“Jamie has always been a chameleon, he’s able to get along and vibe and understand and relate to different types of people from all walks of life,” Timmons told DawgNation in an exclusive interview.
“He was always mature, and he got along with everyone in high school. He’s a well-rounded, diverse young man.”
DawgNation Jamie Newman stories
Amen!!! Dude is a stud! Size and athletic ability to go with a great arm, accuracy, and a phenomenal deep ball! Not many guys more talented in the Country. https://t.co/tZuPax2nWA
— David Pollack (@davidpollack47) January 8, 2020
Newman commit tweet
— Jamie Newman (@jlmn12_) January 11, 2020