Georgia took advantage of the changes to the NCAA’s transfer policy this offseason to help improve the roster. The Bulldogs added former LSU tight end Arik Gilbert, Clemson cornerback Derion Kendrick and West Virginia defensive back Tykee Smith.

Under prior transfer rules, those three players would’ve had to sit out the 2021 season. Now, they’re all expected to make a big impact on Georgia’s 2021 season.

ESPN published a list of its top 50 newcomers for the upcoming season. Among those defined as a newcomer include transfer players, high-profile recruits and first-year starters.

Gilbert, Kendrick and Smith all appeared near the top of the list, with Gilbert ranking as No. 2, Kendrick at No. 6 and Smith as the No. 11 newcomer for the 2021 season.

The early reviews for the trio of transfers have been very positive through the first couple of practices.

“He’s as advertised,” safety Lewis Cine said of Gilbert. “He brings a whole lot to the table as far as our offense. He’s big, he can move. He can really move. He’s a really talented guy. Real quiet but he goes about his business and he knows what he’s here for.”

Related: Arik Gilbert ‘as advertised’ per Georgia teammate Lewis Cine

Gilbert will shift to wide receiver, in part due to the injury sustained by George Pickens. The Bulldogs also already have a strong tight end room with John FitzPatrick, Darnell Washington and Brock Bowers all in a position to contribute.

As a freshman at LSU, Gilbert caught 35 passes for 368 yards and two touchdowns. With quarterback JT Daniels returning to Georgia for another season, the Bulldogs are hoping to boost those numbers quite a bit.

As for the two defensive backs, they’ll both have an oppurtunity to play early after Georgia saw a number of key pieces depart from its 2020 secondary. Four Bulldogs were taken in the 2021 NFL Draft while two more defensive backs transferred to Power 5 programs.

Kendrick and Smith also bring a wealth of experience from their time at Clemson and West Virginia.

“You’re talking about, obviously, you want the athleticism piece but both of those guys have tremendous football instincts in my opinion,” defensive coordinator Dan Lanning said. “They’re not coming unpolished. They’ve been developed in the places that they were at so they come here with the ability to adapt and pick up.”

Kendrick is expected to lock down one of the starting cornerback spots for the Bulldogs, while Lanning confirmed on Tuesday that Smith has been taking snaps at Georgia’s star position.

Related: Dan Lanning sheds light on key Georgia secondary position battles

It is interesting to note that none of Georgia’s 2021 signees made ESPN’s list. The Bulldogs signed the No. 4 overall class in the 2021 recruiting cycle, led by names like Bowers, 5-star offensive tackle Amarius Mims and 4-star cornerback Nyland Green.

The Bulldogs also have a handful of first-time starters such as Travon Walker and Nolan Smith who seem poised to have big seasons.

Georgia will need its newcomers to be at their best for the start of the 2021 season, as the Bulldogs open up against the Clemson Tigers. Dabo Swinney’s team was ranked No. 2 in the first Coaches Poll of the 2021 season.

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