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4 Dawgs who could surprise fans in 2018
Every college football season comes with its share of surprises. Georgia produced plenty last season — chief among them its unexpected run to the National Championship Game. And a surprise such as the Dawgs’ wild success last season is built on the back of many smaller surprises, namely players competing at a level above and beyond what fans expected of them.
If we’re looking back to last season, I’m talking about guys such as J.R. Reed and Andrew Thomas, neither of whom garnered much attention before the season but went on to become two of the team’s most important contributors.
Those smaller surprises are what we’re looking at now. Or rather, which players have the potential to provide them in 2018.
Here are four Georgia Bulldogs who could surprise fans this season:
- Charlie Woerner, TE — Like all Georgia tight ends, Woerner didn’t see much action in the passing game last season. He’s also less talented than fellow tight end Isaac Nauta, but Woerner can more than hold his own when called upon, both in terms of blocking and receiving. If coach Kirby Smart and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney see fit to target tight ends more often this season, I think we’ll see Woerner raise his profile — and catch total — considerably.
- Mark Webb, CB — This one may strain the definition of a surprise because Webb has been tabbed by many as a potential breakout player since the end of last season. But since he’s a sophomore who received limited snaps as a freshman and didn’t play in G-Day, there will be plenty of Dawgs fans who don’t know who Webb is, and they’ll be happy to learn what a lot of us already know when he breaks into the lineup.
- Brian Herrien, RB — With the ridiculous amount of talent Georgia has amassed at tailback, someone was bound to become lost in the shuffle. It seems that someone is Herrien. D’Andre Swift is being recognized as a Heisman dark horse, Elijah Holyfield won plaudits for the way he beefed up this offseason, and freshmen Zamir White and James Cook already have been crowned the “next big things.” But Herrien has always been solid when his number’s been called. It will be called again at some point this season, at which point he’ll remind us just how deep this stable of backs is.
- Jay Hayes, DT — Hayes will come into the season as “that guy who transferred from Notre Dame,” but he could come out of it as one of the best defensive linemen on the team. The Dawgs are incredibly thin along the defensive line, so Hayes, the most experienced player in the unit despite being the newest addition to the team, will be looked at to shoulder a heavy load. He’ll platoon with Tyler Clark at tackle, which should help the defense provide consistent pressure from the interior regardless of the down.
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Scott Stricklin handed raise, contract extension
It wasn’t long ago that we were discussing whether Georgia baseball coach Scott Stricklin would survive the 2018 season. Now, he has a new contract that will keep him in Athens for the foreseeable future.
Following a season in which the Diamond Dogs won 39 games and received the No. 8 overall national seed for the NCAA Tournament — by far Georgia’s best season since he was hired — Stricklin was handed a raise and extension on his contract to keep him at Foley Field until at least 2022.