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The leaps Georgia football players need to make in 2020 season
A year ago, George Pickens was an incoming freshman, and not potentially the most talented wide receiver of the Kirby Smart era. J.R. Reed was regarded as a good player, but certainly not a Jim Thorpe Award finalist. And Tyler Clark was regarded as a rotational defensive line piece, and not a true game-wrecker.
But all of those players improved over the course of the season and made Georgia better for it. The Bulldogs will need a number of players to make a similar type of leaps during this coming season, if Georgia is going to contend for a national title.
So below, we identified a couple of different leaps players can make. From unassuming freshman to major contributor, there’s a bunch of different leaps players can make for this upcoming season.
The J.R. Reed leap: Become one of the top players at the position in the nation
You could also refer to this as the Deandre Baker leap, the Roquan Smith leap or the Andrew Thomas leap. Point being, all of those players made a leap from very good to great and all three also went on to become first-round draft picks.
For some like Richard LeCounte and Eric Stokes, they bypassed the NFL draft to return to Georgia for one final season, much as Reed and Baker did. For other like Ojulari and Davis, they can use a strong junior season to propel themselves into the NFL draft discussion a year from now. And if they’ve done that, it probably means Georgia had a very good season.
Some of these names, like George Pickens and LeCounte are obvious. But the biggest name here is Newman. If he has a big season for Georgia and does become one of the top quarterbacks in the country, the Bulldogs are likely a team playing in a College Football Playoff game.
Players in this category: Jamie Newman, Richard LeCounte, George Pickens, Monty Rice, Azeez Ojulari, Eric Stokes, Trey Hill, Jordan Davis
The D’Andre Swift leap: From role player to star
As a freshman, Swift was a change of pace back who played an excellent role as an understudy to Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. As a sophomore, Swift showed there wouldn’t be much of a drop-off as he topped 1,000 rushing yards and made a number of jaw-dropping plays.
The Bulldogs have a number of highly-recruited players who have waited behind stars, like Swift, Andrew Thomas and Tae Crowder. With Reed now in the NFL, Lewis Cine figures to become a very important player for Georgia at safety.
Now that Thomas and Isaiah Wilson have left the offensive line, Salyer will have the chance to fill their enormous shows and build on some of the promise he showed in the Sugar Bowl.
Players in this category: Jamaree Salyer, Dominick Blaylock, Zamir White, Lewis Cine, Nakobe Dean, Travon Walker, Nolan Smith
The Tae Crowder leap: A senior who becomes a significant contributor in their final season
Nobody expected much from Crowder this past season but he made huge strides as a player and ended up being taken by the New York Giants in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Like Crowder, a number of Bulldogs will be looking to make a similar name for themselves in their final season. Some like Justin Shaffer, have been waiting for the depth chart to open up. Others like Ben Cleveland, Demetris Robertson and Julian Rochester are looking to go out on a high note.
A name that deserves some more recognition here is Herring, who has played well when called upon in his role. With the Georgia defensive line losing five defensive linemen from a year ago, Herring has a great chance of taking on a much bigger role for the Bulldogs in 2020.
Players in this category: Justin Shaffer, Ben Cleveland, Malik Herring, Demetris Robertson, Julian Rochester
The Tyler Clark leap: From rotational piece to a key leader at the position
Most Georgia fans know that Clark would be an important part of the defensive line rotation. But few saw him becoming the team’s most disruptive defensive linemen, as he led the team in tackles for loss.
Georgia has a number of players who will serve as part of the various rotations that the Bulldogs employ. The Bulldogs traditionally play four off-ball linebackers, creating an opening for Quay Walker. Tyson Campbell and D.J. Daniel rotated along with Stokes at the outside cornerback position. If one of them steps up, the Bulldogs could have the best secondary in college football.
Other positions that will involve a cast of players includes running backs James Cook and Kenny McIntosh and the likes of Kearis Jackson, Matt Landers and Tommy Bush at the wide receiver spot.
Players in this category: Tyson Campbell, D.J. Daniel, John Fitzpatrick, James Cook, Kenny Mcintosh, Kearis Jackson, Quay Walker, Tyrique Stevenson, Tommy Bush
The George Pickens leap: A freshman making a seamless transition to the next level
As is usually the case under Smart, the Bulldogs brought in one of the top recruiting classes in the country, as with the 2020 bunch finishing No. 1 overall. And while the Bulldogs already have a lot of talent, there also a handful of holes that need to be filled.
With wide receiver being a question, the likes of Marcus Rosemy and Jermaine Burton will have a chance to earn early playing time. The same can be said for Broderick Jones and Sedrick Van Pran-Granger on the offensive line.
A name to be on the lookout for is Jalen Carter, who could be a key piece to Georgia’s re-tooled defensive line. With the lack of returning depth and Carter’s already impressive measurables, he might be well-positioned to make an early impact for the Bulldogs.
Players in this category: Jalen Carter, Marcus Rosemy, Jermaine Burton, Broderick Jones, Sedrick Van Pran-Granger, Darnell Washington
More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation
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- Opinion: New offensive coordinator Todd Monken could provide boost for UGA running game
- Rayshaun Hammonds leaving Georgia, keeps name in NBA draft pool
- How Georgia football is gaining momentum for measured return, team quarantine possible
- Georgia football podcast: D’Andre Swift has high expectations for next generation of UGA RBs
- What Florida and Tennessee’s early 2021 recruiting success means for Georgia
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