Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said as much following the national championship win over TCU. The 2023 Georgia football team is going to bring back a lot of really talented players.

That was likely the case last year, in spite of what Smart got his players to believe. But this time, the national media doesn’t seem to be underrating or undervaluing what Georgia will have in 2023.

In a roundtable discussion, a number of ESPN writers laid out their thoughts on who might be the best player in college football for the 2023 season. One writer nominated star tight end Brock Bowers. Another praised inside linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson.

Both came up huge in Georgia’s College Football Playoff wins. Bowers finished with 152 receiving yards and a touchdown in the national championship game, while Dumas-Johnson had a key fourth quarter sack in the win over Ohio State.

“It just kind of happened that way,” Bowers said after his championship performance. “I just kind of played my game tonight. I just end up open sometimes. Not really much else.”

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Bowers now has touchdowns in back-to-back national championship games. No pass catcher in Georgia football history has been more productive than Bowers has in their first two years as a Bulldog. Bowers led Georgia in receiving once again this season, catching a team-best 63 passes for 942 yards and seven touchdowns. He also ran for three touchdowns as well.

With fellow tight end Darnell Washington off to the NFL, Bowers could command an even greater target share at the tight end position. The only other player with returning experience at the position for Georgia is Oscar Delp, who will be a sophomore next season.

As for Dumas-Johnson, he finished second on the team in sacks last season with 4.0. In his first season as a starter for the Bulldogs,

“Give me the best-returning defender from the best team in college football. Georgia’s Jamon Dumas-Johnson fits that bill,” ESPN’s Bill Connelly wrote. “He’s strong against both run and pass, and with more pass-rushing opportunities he could become one of the nation’s sacks leaders. On a per-rush basis, he was brilliant.”

Dumas-Johnson picked up sacks against Kent State, Tennessee and Ohio State, finishing second on the team in the category behind freshman Mykel Williams. Dumas-Johnson also finished second in tackles, just off the pace of fellow inside linebacker Smael Mondon.

All three players return for Georgia in 2023. The Bulldogs do have to replace two All-Americans in Chris Smith and Jalen Carter. But the expectation is that next season’s defense is going to be even better than the one that held TCU to seven points in the final game of the season.

Related: ESPN names 4 Georgia football standouts to ‘Way-Too-Early’ 2023 All-American Team

Georgia is expected to be a preseason favorite to win the national championship once again. Smart knows it will be a hard task, especially since next season’s team won’t be able to run on so much public doubt.

But bringing back key players such as Bowers and Dumas-Johnson is an excellent place to start.

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