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D'Andre Swift had a huge season for Georgia in 2018.

Handing out our own Georgia football awards for the 2018 season

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Handing out Georgia football’s other 2018 awards

On Thursday, the University of Georgia announced its 2018 award winners and captains. You can see the full list below. We’ve also handed out our own awards this week, naming D’Andre Walker our defensive MVP, Sam Pittman our Most Valuable assistant coach and D’Andre Swift our offensive MVP. 

Below we’ve compiled a list of our favorite plays and top players for Georgia’s 2018 season.

Best play: D’Andre Swift’s touchdown run against Auburn

The Georgia offense had a great year, as it averaged 39.2 points per game this season. There were a number of fun plays to choose from, whether it be Riley Ridley’s touchdown catch against Alabama to Justin Fields’ touchdown pass to Mecole Hardman in the UMass game.

But we’re going with Swift’s long touchdown run against Auburn. His 77-yard touchdown run showed that Swift can run through contact and around defenders. The run also put away Auburn, giving Georgia another big win.

Best defensive play: JR Reed’s interception against Alabama

The television angles for this play really don’t do it justice. This was an incredible play made by the junior safety to keep end an Alabama drive and keep points off the board. This was one of two interceptions that Reed came away with during the season.

Best special teams play: Rodrigo Blankenship’s 53-yard field goal against Vanderbilt

For my money, this also doubled as the loudest moment at Sanford Stadium this year. Blankenship was the most beloved player by Georgia fans this season, and they really showed it when this junior boomed this field goal against the Commodores.

Best moment: Beating Florida

Georgia came into this game badly needing a win. The Bulldogs had gotten stomped by LSU two weeks prior, and had a bye week to stew on the loss. We were going to find out how good this Georgia team was against a Florida team that ended the season ranked in the top-10.

And we found that Georgia was pretty great. The Bulldogs ended up pulling away for a 36-17 win. Quarterback Jake Fromm was wonderful in that game, and it was the first time that  Swift went over the 100-yard rushing mark in his career. But most importantly, it was the beginning of a run that saw the Bulldogs dominate the Gators, Kentucky, Auburn and Georgia Tech. Sure the season didn’t end the way many had hoped, but the win over Florida was still a big deal for the Georgia program in 2018.

Best throw: Jake Fromm’s touchdown pass to Riley Ridley against Alabama

This was just an absolute dime from Fromm, and an equally great catch from Ridley. It was easily the best throw Fromm made all season, one in which he threw 27 touchdown passes to just 5 interceptions.

Best overall player: Deandre Baker, cornerback

The senior defensive back was outstanding. He could’ve been a high draft pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, but he made the decision to come back to Georgia for his senior season. And that choice — while it didn’t lead to a championship — he more than helped his draft stock this season. For his sensational play, Baker won the Jim Thorpe Award which goes to the nation’s top defensive back. Baker was dominant all season, from shutting down South Carolina wide receiver Deebo Samuel, to keeping Alabama’s vaunted passing offense in check.

On a week to week basis, no one was better at their job than Baker was. It will not be able to replace him, just as it was not easy to replace Roquan Smith from last season.

Best senior: Deandre Baker

See above

Best junior: Isaac Nauta, tight end

Nauta’s stats might not be eye-popping — 27 catches, 427 yards and 3 touchdowns — but he was a big part of the Georgia offense this year when called upon. Fans pretty consistently wondered why the big tight end didn’t get the ball more, and they may have had a point. He was Georgia’s leading receiver in the Alabama game, as he hauled in 4 catches for 81 yards and the game’s first touchdown.

Nauta will have a decision to make in the coming weeks regarding his NFL future. His skill set likely translates better at the NFL level than it might at Georgia, and no one should blame him if chooses to do so. But he was Georgia’s best junior this year.

Best sophomore: Andrew Thomas, offensive tackle

Swift and Fromm both had strong seasons as sophomores, and their continued improvement should really excite Georgia fans for next year. But they both had their struggles — Swift with his health early in the season, Fromm against LSU — during the season. The one sophomore who didn’t was left tackle Andrew Thomas. He missed one game due to injury but other than that he was nearly flawless.

For his season, Thomas was named a Second Team All-American by the Associated Press this year. Heading into next year, Thomas figures to be the nation’s top offensive tackle in the country. The strength of Georgia’s team comes from the offensive line, and Thomas was by far Georgia’s best offensive lineman this year.

Best true freshman: Cade Mays

You could go in a number of different directions here. Justin Fields certainly had his moments this year. The same could be said for cornerback Tyson Campbell. Adam Anderson and Channing Tindall both made big strides by the end of the season. But when he played this year, there was not a better freshman than Cade Mays. He had seven starts on the season, and for his efforts was named to the SEC All-Freshman team. Had he not picked up a late season injury, he would’ve been starting against Alabama in the SEC Championship game.

Georgia football 2018 award winners

Vince Dooley Offensive Most Valuable Player: D’Andre Swift, Jake Fromm

Vince Dooley Defensive Most Valuable Player: Jonathan Ledbetter, Deandre Baker

Captains: Jake Fromm, Lamont Gaillard, Elijah Holyfield, Jonathan Ledbetter

Senior Scholar Award: Jackson Harris

Community Service Award: Rodrigo Blankenship

Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year: Willie Erdman, John Fitzpatrick, Steven Van Tiflin, Tommy Bush

Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year: Jordon McKinney, Jake Skole, Hugh Nelson, Kolby Wyatt

Special Teams Scout Team Player of the Year: Latavious Brini, Steven Van Tiflin, Willie Erdman, Peyton Mercer

Offensive Most Improved Player: Isaiah Wilson, Solomon Kindley, Riley Ridley

Defensive Most Improved Player: Tae Crowder, Eric Stokes

Special Teams Most Improved Player: Keyon Richardson, Nick Moore, Charlie Woerner

Offensive Newcomer of the Year: Cade Mays, James Cook, Justin Fields, Trey Hill

Defensive Newcomer of the Year: Tyson Campbell, Jordan Davis

Special Teams Newcomer of the Year: Jake Camarda, Channing Tindall, Quay Walker

Offensive Up-Front Award: Lamont Gaillard, Andrew Thomas

Defensive Up-Front Award: Jonathan Ledbetter, D’Andre Walker

Leon Farmer Strength & Conditioning Award: Elijah Holyfield

David Jacobs Award: Tyrique McGhee, Terry Godwin, JR Reed

Frank Sinkwich Award (toughest player on the team): Juwan Taylor, Prather Hudson, Jeremiah Holloman

Charley Trippi Award (most versatile player): Jayson Stanley, Walter Grant, Tyler Simmons

Kevin Butler Special Teams Most Valuable Player: Rodrigo Blankenship, Mecole Hardman

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