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Who could be a under-the-radar player for Georgia football offense in 2019
It’s never too soon to start looking ahead till next season. And most Georgia fans already know the offensive stars of the 2019 team will be Jake Fromm and D’Andre Swift. But what about those guys who we don’t talk about that end making a big-time contributions? This time last year, we didn’t talk a whole lot about Jeremiah Holloman and Elijah Holyfield. They both proved to be significant contributors to Georgia’s season in 2018.
So we’re going to try and identify some players who fit that similar mold: Under-the-radar guys on Georgia’s offense who end up playing and surprising a few people come the end of the season.
As a disclaimer, we’re ruling out any former 5-star prospects. You don’t really get to be a surprise when you’ve been labeled as one of the top prospects in the country. Also we’re ruling out guys who have already seriously established themselves, as we’ll save them for breakout candidates:
John Fitzpatrick, redshirt freshman tight end
Given Georgia’s current tight end situation, Fitzpatrick is going to have to play next season. He redshirted this past season as the 6-foot-7 product from the Marist School (Atlanta) sat behind Isaac Nauta, Charlie Woerner and Luke Ford. But with Nauta and Ford gone and Woerner stepping into Nauta’s role, Fitzpatrick is going to have to play as Georgia’s second tight end.
Georgia is bringing in 4-star tight end Ryland Goede, but he’s coming off an ACL injury. Last season, Woerner hauled in 11 catches for 148 yards and appeared in all 14 games for the Bulldogs. If Fitzpatrick can at least provide similar production next year, that will be a win for the Bulldogs.
Tommy Bush, redshirt freshman wide receiver
Bush might be one of the most popular players on the team if you were to scroll the DawgNation Daily comments feed. The 6-foot-5 wide receiver could be a major mismatch for opposing teams if he can find his way onto the field. He did not record a catch this past season, and appeared in only two games.
Bush, a 4-star prospect in the 2018 class out of Schertz, Texas, will have an opportunity to earn more playing time given the departures Georgia will see at the wide receiver position, with Riley Ridley, Mecole Hardman and Terry Godwin all gone.
Bush will have some competition in the form of Demetris Robertson, 5-star freshman Dominick Blaylock and 4-star Makyia Tongue, but Bush has the size to make him standout from the rest of the wide receiver room. Don’t be stunned if Bush has a Holloman-like emergence this year for the Bulldogs.
Kearis Jackson, redshirt freshman wide receiver
Jackson, like Bush was a 4-star in the 2018 class and redshirted this past season. Jackson doesn’t have the body type of Bush, but he’s no slouch either.
Jackson is going to face a lot of competition in the slot, but anyone who knows Jackson shouldn’t be surprised to see him emerge. He’ll have to compete with the likes of Blaylock, Robertson and Tyler Simmons, but Jackson could also contribute as a possible punt and kick returner.
Warren Ericson, redshirt freshman center
Georgia will have to replace center Lamont Gaillard, and it will have a number of talented options to pick from. There’s Trey Hill, who filled in at guard during the 2018 regular season. There’s also former 5-star Jamaree Salyer. But fans shouldn’t forget about Ericson.
He redshirted his freshman season, but Ericson isn’t a slouch by any stretch. He was rated as the nation’s No. 5 center prospect in the 2018 recruiting cycle out of North Gwinnett High School. While he might not have the truly elite recruiting pedigree that some of his teammates do, Ericson is certainly capable of playing at a high level.
Also Georgia fans should know better than anyone that star rating doesn’t matter at the center position. David Andrews, a former Georgia captain and three-year starter who now starts for the New England Patriots, was a 3-star recruit coming out of high school.
Georgia quarterback Matthew Downing to transfer
For the second time in the month of January, a Georgia quarterback is transferring. Though this one isn’t nearly as polarizing, as walk-on Matthew Downing announced that he would be transferring to TCU.
Downing — who was not on scholarship at Georgia — appeared in four games this past season, serving mop-up duty behind both Justin Fields and Jake Fromm.
— Matthew Downing (@M_Down07) January 17, 2019
Downing would’ve likely been the fourth string quarterback at Georgia in 2019, as he would sit behind Stetson Bennett and Dwan Mathis. And should Georgia end up hanging on to 4-star commit John Rhys Plumlee, he too would’ve been slotted ahead of Downing.
Of course, Georgia’s backup situation doesn’t really matter that much going into 2019. Fromm is very clearly the guy. In the event that he goes down with an injury, Georgia’s national championship hopes likely go down with him.
Another SEC school in the market for defensive coordinator
We wrote on Wednesday about when Georgia would expect to find its next defensive coordinator. Well that market got a little more crowded, as Alabama’s defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi left to take the job as the defensive line coach for the Cleveland Browns.
Alabama will now be looking for its third defensive coordinator since Kirby Smart left after the 2015 season. Replacing coordinators hasn’t been a problem yet for Nick Saban, but some did point to the coaching staff as to why Alabama got blown out by Clemson. The Crimson Tide are also still looking for a number of offensive assistants as well, though it has been reported that Steve Sarkisian is set to become the offensive coordinator.
As for it what it means for Georgia, Alabama wanting a coordinator likely eats into a potential candidate for Georgia. While Alabama could promote from within, there’s also the very obvious answer of Derrick Ansley, who was the Oakland Raiders defensive backs coach and worked at Alabama prior to that. Ansley has been mentioned as a candidate with Georgia, but there’s been no reports of an interview or him visiting Athens.
Best Georgia football stories from around DawgNation
- When should Georgia fans start to worry about the defensive coordinator hire?
- Sophomore David Daniel is the first elite prospect at this Georgia program since 2005
- Georgia football podcast: 5-star signee Nolan Smith already getting attention from ESPN
- Kirby Smart cruises in helicopter to recruit Atlanta area
- Georgia’s Mary Beth Smart shares secrets of being a successful coach’s wife with Kristen Eargle
- Georgia football podcast: Hype surrounding Jake Fromm, D’Andre Swift can benefit UGA
- ESPN calls Georgia a loser of NFL draft early entry process
- Georgia football got better with the addition of Todd Hartley
Dawgs on Twitter
bUt UgA iS fAlLiNg ApArT https://t.co/srBmwO7QqH
— UGA Spike Squad (@UGASPIKESQUAD) January 17, 2019
Nation’s No. 1 overall junior prospect. Yes, that is a 280-pound defensive end. https://t.co/L6C2II9vwe
— Jeff Sentell (@jeffsentell) January 16, 2019
— Georgia Football (@FootballUGA) January 16, 2019
Kirby Smart on campus today! pic.twitter.com/UunC34JVHn
— NGHS Athletics (@NGHSAthletics) January 16, 2019
Good Dawg of the Day
I pet Alfie. He is a 7 month old Siberian Husky puppy. He is a happy dog who talks a lot. Alfie gets excited and loves to play in the snow. It took a while for Alfie to get used to other dogs. The first time he went to the dog park, he was so nervous he hid under the picnic table pic.twitter.com/xJ9k9GQOKq
— I've Pet That Dog (@IvePetThatDog) January 15, 2019