Best of DawgNation: Why Georgia needs a big year from George Pickens, chatting with Big Bear Alexander
Georgia’s 2022 recruiting class has eight commitments at the moment. All but one of them come from the state of Georgia. The lone out-of-state prospect though figures to be a huge one for the class, as it is 4-star defensive tackle Bear Alexander.
In the recent rankings updates, Alexander rates as the No. 86 overall prospect in the 2022 recruiting cycle. But there’s a good chance he’ll continue to climb in those rankings, with Rivals having him as a 5-star prospect and the No. 4 overall player in the class.
Alexander spoke with DawgNation’s Jeff Sentell this week and the two covered a number of topics, including why he ultimately committed to Georgia.
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Alexander revealed that the Georgia staff was still somewhat skeptical of his commitment, given his Texas ties and how just about every program in the country wants a player like him.
“To this day, they still don’t believe that they have a shot,” Alexander said at the 25:07 mark.
What he said might even alarm the Georgia fan base. Alexander is a top national recruit way out in Texas. Schools like Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M know how to recruit, too.
Alexander then quickly put out the forest fire with all of that.
“But they know the love is real,” he said. “If they are tuning in right now, they know that I am 100 percent committed to the University of Georgia. I don’t feel like that is changing no time soon.”
You can watch Alexander’s full interview below
Kirby Smart continues to be prophetic about transfer portal
Every time a player enters the transfer portal, a number of Georgia fans get excited about the potential of said player ending up in Athens. Whether it be Arik Gilbert, he ultimately picked Florida, or Dreshun Miller, who committed to Auburn this week, the photoshops of them in Georgia jerseys or thoughts on how they fit into Georgia’s system never seem to stop.
Which is why Kirby Smart outright laughed the last time he was asked about the transfer portal.
Smart has consistently been clear on how he feels about the transfer portal with regards to how he uses it. He doesn’t use it just to add a talented player for the sake of adding a talented player.
DawgNation’s Connor Riley explains Smart’s thinking on the matter and why Georgia is going to be extremely selective of who it goes after in the portal.
“Every time somebody goes in it, you write an article,” Smart told reporters before the Peach Bowl. “We don’t have to monitor it, you guys do it for us (laughter). As soon as somebody is in it, we know. I think people think we have people sitting down there checking on the ticker every three minutes.
“Since y’all are checking the ticker every three minutes, I don’t have to. ”
With players announcing they’re entering the transfer portal to following their likes and follows on social media platforms, it’s become easier than ever to track what players are doing and hypothesizing where they might be going.
Which is exactly why Smart doesn’t spend hours at a time wondering which player in the transfer portal can help his team.
“It’s a need base for us,” Smart said. “If I had my preference, I would rather not use the portal because schools like Cincinnati and Georgia shouldn’t have to, you should be able to go out and recruit the right kind of guys.”
The transfer portal will continue to be a point of fascination throughout the offseason, especially as a number of players figure to enter the portal once spring practice concludes. Just this week Georgia saw wide receiver Tommy Bush enter the transfer portal, becoming the fourth wide receiver for Georgia to do so this offseason.
Mel Tucker visits DawgNation, shares thoughts on championship hump
Mel Tucker has made quite a name for himself since arriving as Georgia’s defensive coordinator prior to the 2016 season. After spending three seasons with the Bulldogs, Tucker was hired to be the head coach at Colorado. Then after one season there, he was hired to be the head coach at Michigan State.
This week, DawgNation’s Mike Griffith caught up with Tucker to look back on his time at UGA, as well as what he has planned at Michigan State.
How does UGA take that final championship step?
Michigan State head coach and former UGA DC Mel Tucker offers up his thoughts on the matter: pic.twitter.com/GozZXJIt2M
— DawgNation (@DawgNation) February 23, 2021
Tucker was the defensive coordinator on the 2017 Georgia team that came oh so close to winning a national title. As an assistant, Tucker won titles at Ohio State and Alabama.
Still, Tucker’s formula for a championship team holds weight. He has seen it from both sides, having worked alongside Smart on Nick Saban’s 2015 national title team.
“Throughout the season you’re going to have to win close games,” Tucker said. “Sometimes you will win ugly, but the bottom line is you have to get in the left-hand column and move on to the next one and continue to get better, so when you get into November, you’re playing your best football.”
That was the case for Georgia in 2018, when it appeared the Bulldogs were on the verge of another College Football Playoff run.
Michigan State went 2-5 last season with Tucker in charge. After Tucker left, the Bulldogs named Dan Lanning the defensive coordinator and Glenn Schumann as the co-defensive coordinator.
You can see Griffith’s full interview with Tucker below.
Georgia needs a really big year from George Pickens
There’s been a consistent theme in national title winners during the College Football Playoff era. They tend to have a statically great wide receiver.
Since the start of the College Football Playoff in 2014, five of the seven title winners have had at least one 1,000-yard wide receiver. The two that didn’t saw Calvin Ridley finish with 967 yards in 2017 with Alabama and Michael Thomas have 931 yards for Ohio State in 2014.
In Georgia’s history, the Bulldogs have had just a single 1,000-yard season. Only six wide receivers have even logged just 900 yards in a single season in program history.
DawgNation Daily’s Brandon Adams explains why Georgia has to have a wide receiver get to this threshold. And that Pickens is the player to do so.
Last season, Pickens finished with 513 yards on 36 receptions. Once quarterback JT Daniels was inserted into the starting lineup, Pickens numbers took a noticeable jump. Over the course of the final four games, Pickens caught 23 passes for 373 yards and four touchdowns. If you expand those numbers out to a 12-game season, that would total 69 receptions for 1,119 yards and 12 touchdowns.
If those numbers come to be, that would pretty easily be the best season by any wide receiver in the history of the program.
Georgia does return its top seven receiving leaders from a season ago, so Daniels will have an abundance of options to target. But Pickens figures to be the alpha in Georgia’s wide receiver room.
More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation
- Clemson All-ACC cornerback Derion Kendrick reportedly dismissed from team
- SEC Network analyst Cole Cubelic: ‘I might have Georgia as my No. 1 team in college football heading into the season’
- Update on Tae Crowder and his mother’s brand-new Mercedes
- Georgia football podcast: Fan favorites emerging from UGA’s 2022 recruiting class
- Big Bear Alexander: The 5 best things he said in his 1-on-1 DawgNation interview
- The biggest off-season concern for the Georgia football team actually is …