DawgNation will offer this report after every game which focuses on the freshmen who played, what they did and who has lost one of those newly-reshaped (four games or less) redshirts. Check out this UGA football edition after the Bulldogs took down UMass with the most points they have scored since a 70-point calculation against Northeast Louisiana in 1994.
Trey Hill. Come on down. The freshman Bulldog from Houston County in Warner Robins is now the sixth freshman to start a game this season. The Bulldogs were able to sign the nation’s top-rated recruiting class in 2018 and that crop continues to impact this year’s team.
That’s a pretty neat little trend the Bulldogs have going.
Hill took the first-team reps at right guard for the Bulldogs on Saturday against UMass. The massive freshman was part of a unit that never saw the chains point to a third down.
The program rolled up the second-highest total offense figure (701 yards) for a single game in UGA history.
Hill’s recruiting rankings: Nation’s No. 2 OG prospect on the 247Sports Composite rankings. He was also listed as the nation’s No. 62 overall prospect for 2018. That made him the 11th-highest rated recruit in the 2018 class for UGA.
Remember when he committed to Georgia last December?
If not, here’s the DawgNation.com commitment video.
Cool segment coming on @DawgNation Before the Hedges at 3 PM. We'll stroll through our commitment videos and ask viewers to pick their favorite. This @hilldeontrey will definitely make it: https://t.co/wufx9L5Hh2 pic.twitter.com/8OfC2OctDR
— Jeff Sentell (@jeffsentell) September 5, 2018
BIG PICTURE: FRESHMAN REPORT
The midsection of this blog will dive into the Justin Fields performance against UMass in greater detail, but there was a bigger freshman-related bigger picture coming out of the Umass game.
It relates to that Monty Rice injury prior to the game. He suffered what Georgia coach Kirby Smart said was an injury in the pregame warmups. That foot was immobilized in a walking boot. Rice had crutches but didn’t appear to be needing them to move about.
What does that say about his availability for Georgia Tech? A lot. The Bulldogs will likely prefer to have the services of their best in-the-box tackler against a triple-option attack that places a premium on aligning players who can do what Rice can.
Rice led UGA in tackles for three straight games prior to the UMass game. Does this mean that freshman ILBs Channing Tindall and Quay Walker might play a greater role this Saturday against Tech? That’s a likely Monday read on that situation.
That duo combined for three tackles against the pass-happy Minutemen.
FRESHMEN STARTERS IN 2018
It was mentioned earlier, but here’s the list of the true freshmen and redshirt freshmen who have started games for the Bulldogs this year.
- P Jake Camarda (11 games)
- CB Tyson Campbell (10 games)
- DT Jordan Davis (three games)
- OL Trey Hill (one game)
- OL Cade Mays (seven games)
- DB Otis Reese (one game)
- Redshirt freshman CB Eric Stokes (1 game)
- Redshirt freshman OT Isaiah Wilson (11 games)
In case you missed it: The Bulldogs started two true freshmen and two redshirt freshmen against UMass. Defensive tackle Jordan Davis also saw his three-game starting streak snapped on Saturday.
THE BIG PICTURE, PART I
THE WEEKLY FRESHMAN HEAT CHECK
Let’s continue the blog with a current assessment of the five most valuable freshmen and redshirt freshmen to the UGA football team at this time.
We kicked off this feature after the LSU game. It is a nod to the top 5 freshmen (redshirt or true) who have impacted the overall balance of the season up to this point.
- OT Isaiah Wilson (Redshirt freshman and a former 5-star recruit): Wilson has been the most consistent freshmen starter for the Bulldogs all season. The former 5-star redshirted in 2017 and appears to have benefitted greatly from that experience.
- CB Tyson Campbell (former 5-star recruit): The speedy first-year player was absent from the starting lineup against UMass for the first time all season. But he added three tackles against UMass and now has 40 stops this season. That ties him with senior Jonathan Ledbetter for the fourth-highest total on the team.
- OG/OT Cade Mays (former 5-star recruit): Mays sat out this week against UMass. It will likely prove to be a very wise decision with the Georgia Tech game coming up.
- QB Justin Fields: Fields produced more “Did you see that?” moments in the UMass game than any other Bulldogs. He made a couple of throws against the Minutemen that those defenders didn’t have the time to warn anyone about. We will definitely chronicle those down below.
- DT Jordan Davis: (former 3-star recruit:) Davis is the only Bulldog who wasn’t rated as a 5-star on this list. The North Carolina native assisted on one tackle against UMass and added a half-sack. His 20 tackles for the season now rank as the fourth-highest total among all Bulldog defensive linemen.
WHO’S HEATING UP RIGHT NOW: Eric Stokes is rapidly climbing up this list. He has already proven himself to be a capable SEC starter at cornerback. Robert Beal Jr. and Adam Anderson also continue to get early reps and they are contributing with those early opportunities.
THE BIG PICTURE, PART II
Freshmen tweet of the game: Well, this seems about the right spot of the blog to share the weekly updates regarding that freshman QB from Harrison High in Kennesaw. The CBS Sports tweet has more than 111,000 views.
Justin Fields can absolutely sling it. pic.twitter.com/s0Ni65veip
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) November 17, 2018
The Justin Fields stat line: Fields was 5-of-8 through the air for 121 yards and two touchown passes. That was his first multi-touchdown passing day as a Bulldog. He also broke free for a team-high 100 yards on just stouchdownries, including a 47-yard scamper that established a new career long. He led the Bulldogs in both rushing and passing.
Fields first entered the game when: He came into the game on the third series against UMass.
The full “Fields of Gold” stat line for the season: That “Fields of Gold” stat line is a nod to the readers of the DawgNation forum. That’s a popular phrase known to many who hang around those parts.
Passing: 25-of-35 for 341 yards, 4 TDs, 0 Ints. (71 percent completion rate; 7-of-11 for 86 yards in SEC play)
Rushing: 36 carries for 250 yards, 4 TDs (His 6.9 yard average per carry ranks second on the team among Bulldogs with more than five carries.)
Fields stat to share with your friends: While that was his first career 100-yard passing day against UMass, he’s currently fourth on the team in rushing yards and third in rushing touchdowns.
Not-so-hot Fields take: The young man is vastly talented. He’s also had the chances this year to flash that immense array of skill. The fact he’s been unable to wrestle major playing time away from Jake Fromm shows just how well the QB situation has been handled at UGA and also just how good of a player Fromm is in his own right.
Fields provided the highlight gold on Saturday, but let’s also note Fromm is 49-of-69 for 652 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception since the LSU game. That’s a 71 percent completion rate. He didn’t face a third down against UMass but he was 16-of-19 for 270 yards on third or fourth down coming into the game. Those throws netted six touchdown strikes on those money downs, too.
The second Justin Fields tweet from the UMass game: While on the subject of fair and balanced reporting and opinion, it only seems right to curate both the Fields passing and running highlights against Umass within the blog.
There goes Justin Fields. pic.twitter.com/ZS6uPGOCws
— Dayne Young (@dayneyoung) November 17, 2018
Subtle freshman note of the week: Kearis Jackson didn’t play this week. This is a beyond the box score kind of thing because this was a day in which a lot of non-scholarship players saw action, including a senior wide receiver. Several non-scholarship redshirt sophomores hit the field, including at receiver.
This has not a single thing to do with Jackson’s progression, but a nod to the new redshirt rules. The speedy and physical wideout from Peach County is clearly talented enough to play right now, but he’s already seen action in four games. If he played against UMass, then he would have lost the ability to redshirt for the 2018 season.
THE BIG PICTURE, PART III
How many freshmen played against Auburn (true or redshirt): 25
Who started (all freshmen): P Jake Camarda; OL Trey Hill; CB Eric Stokes and OT Isaiah Wilson
The 18 true freshmen who played against Auburn: Camarda + Hill and:
- OLB Adam Anderson
- WR Tommy Bush
- CB Tyson Campbell
- RB James Cook
- OL Owen Condon
- OLB Brenton Cox
- DT Jordan Davis
- QB Matthew Downing (preferred walk-on)
- OL Warren Ericson
- QB Justin Fields
- TE Luke Ford
- DB Otis Reese
- OG Jamaree Salyer
- DB Chris Smith
- ILB Channing Tindall
- ILB Quay Walker
Which redshirt freshmen Bulldogs played against Auburn:
- OLB Robert Beal, Jr.
- DB Latavious Brini
- PK Brooks Buce (preferred walk-on)
- WR Matt Landers
- DB Eric Stokes (starter)
- RB Lofton Tidwell (preferred walk-on)
- OT Isaiah Wilson (starter)
Couple of things to monitor: Freshman OLB Brenton Cox did return to action this week after missing his first game of the season against Auburn. It is understood that he has been recovering from a slight injury.
Position breakdown for the true freshmen who saw action against Auburn (with the Kentucky number in parentheses):
- DB: 3 (2)
- ILB: 2 (2)
- OLB: 2 (1)
- OL: 4 (3)
- DL: 1 (1)
- P: 1 (1)
- QB: 2 (1)
- RB: 1 (1)
- TE: 1 (1)
- WR: 1 (0)
THE BIG PICTURE, PART IV
The “but what about James Cook” part of this blog: That’s the other freshmen highlight maker to report on from Saturday’s action.
Cook scored his first two touchdowns against UMass. The Miami native had three carries for 76 yards and two touchdowns. He finally got to see one of his romps to paydirt count after two previous efforts had been wiped off the board.
The Cook highlight tweet: Here’s a clip that leads off with his 26-yard jet sweep. Cook had scoring runs of 26 and 27 yards against UMass.
— Pat (@Patt_Brown) November 18, 2018
Cook’s recruiting ranking: Cook ranked as the nation’s No. 3 all-purpose RB and the No. 41 overall prospect on the 247Sports Composite rankings for 2018. He was even rated as a 5-star by Rivals.com.
What should the 2019 recruiting class address: These answers have been apparent for a few weeks, but these look like the priorities for the next class based on what we have seen on the field in 2018.
- ILB: The Bulldogs still need stronger and more athletic play from this position. Monty Rice’s pregame ankle injury shows just how thin this position will be next year in terms of veteran depth for a big game. (This class has a pair of impressive 4-star commits at this time.)
- Defensive backs: Senior Deandre Baker is the team’s top player and he exhausts his eligibility this year. Campbell and Stokes played key roles against UMass. Chris Smith also saw time against UMass. (The Bulldogs do have a solid pledge from the nation’s No. 3 safety prospect in Under Armour All-American Lewis Cine. They also flipped 4-star junior college CB D.J. Daniel from South Carolina earlier this season. The Bulldogs need more size and speed at the cornerback spot. Especially in nickel and dime packages.)
- Defensive tackle: Freshman DT Jordan Davis was the only freshman defensive tackle to see time against UMass. Devonte Wyatt was the only sophomore DT to get reps. (UGA has a 5-star and a pair of 3-stars committed at this time. Another DL will likely slide over to DT as he matures)
- Offensive line: The Bulldogs were beset by injuries across the line but still found a way to point four true freshmen OLs to the field. Trey Hill started his first game. (UGA currently has two 4-star commits at OT and an eye on a third for Sam Pittman’s room in the 2019 class. The Bulldogs are also in the race for 5-star center Clay Webb. Webb hopes to be a guard early on in college.)
- Quarterback: Justin Fields, a true freshman QB everyone knows about, gave the fans a full plate of highlights against UMass to think about. That said, the Bulldogs are razor-thin at this position with just two scholarship players. (Mississippi senior John Rhys Plumlee is committed in the 2019 class. He now rates as the nation’s No. 8 dual-threat QB prospect, but another recruit at this position makes a lot of sense for scholarship depth. Look for the Bulldogs to try to add a second scholarship QB to this class.)
- OLB: D’Andre Walker is set to graduate. That’s the starter at the “Jack” position for the Bulldogs. Senior Keyon Richardson has also seen action in all 11 games after signing with UGA in 2014. He will also free up a scholarship slot. Walter Grant, who has started seven games this year, will be a junior in 2019. (Georgia has a commitment from 5-star OLB Nolan Smith and 4-star junior college OLB Jermaine Johnson. It is very hard to imagine any school anywhere having a more impressive pair of incoming prospects at this position.)
Here’s a look at the times when Fields has entered games this year:
- Austin Peay: The fourth UGA series during the second quarter of the game.
- South Carolina: The 10th UGA series during the fourth quarter of the game.
- Middle Tennessee: The fourth UGA series during the second quarter of the game.
- Missouri: The fourth UGA series during the second quarter of the game.
- Tennessee: The third UGA series during the second quarter of the game.
- Vanderbilt: The fourth UGA series during the second quarter of the game.
- LSU: The fifth UGA series during the second quarter of the game.
- Florida: Did not play.
- Kentucky: The fourth UGA series during the second quarter of the game.
- Auburn: The first UGA series during the first quarter of the game.
- UMass: The third UGA series during the first quarter of the game.
True freshmen to play in every game
Simply put, they have seen time in every game. There are a few of these guys who largely get those snaps on special teams.
- OLB Adam Anderson
- P Jake Camarda (11 starts; he didn’t punt on Saturday but he did hold for Rodrigo Blankenship)
- CB Tyson Campbell (10 starts)
- RB James Cook
- OL Trey Hill
- ILB Channing Tindall
- ILB Quay Walker
True freshmen players who did not play this week: TE John FitzPatrick; WR Kearis Jackson; OL Cade Mays; OLB Azeez Ojulari; RB Zamir White (out for the season); DB Divaad Wilson (Spring ACL injury but has now been cleared to play.)
Participation for 2018 freshmen signees
This is worth watching in terms of the new redshirt rules.
- OLB Adam Anderson: 11 games
- WR Tommy Bush: 2 games
- P Jake Camarda: 11 games
- CB Tyson Campbell: 11 games
- OT Owen Condon: 2 games
- RB James Cook: 11 games
- OLB Brenton Cox: 10 games
- DT Jordan Davis: 9 games
- OL Warren Ericson: 2 games
- QB Justin Fields: 10 games
- TE John FitzPatrick: 2 games
- TE Luke Ford: 9 games
- OL Trey Hill: 11 games
- WR Kearis Jackson: 4 games
- OL Cade Mays: 10 games
- OLB Azeez Ojulari: 1 game
- DB Otis Reese: 8 games
- OL Jamaree Salyer: 10 games
- DB Chris Smith: 4 games
- ILB Channing Tindall: 11 games
- ILB Quay Walker: 10 games
- RB Zamir White: 0 games (Redshirt-Summer ACL injury)
- DB Divaad Wilson: 0 games (Spring ACL injury)
Redshirt status watch: WR Kearis Jackson (4 games); CB Chris Smith (4 games)
2017 signees who did not show on the game participation report: R-Fr. DB Tray Bishop; ILB Jaden Hunter; OL-DL Netori Johnson; Sophomore CB Ameer Speed.