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Former 5-star tackle Isaiah Wilson could start as a redshirt freshman in 2018.

Georgia football: 5 redshirt freshmen who can contribute next season

Cy Brown

Welcome to Good Day, UGA, your one-stop shop for Georgia football news and takes. Check us out every weekday morning for everything you need to know about Georgia football, recruiting, basketball and more. 

Which of Georgia’s redshirt freshmen will contribute next season?

Although Jake Fromm, D’Andre Swift and Andrew Thomas are the stars of the freshman class, there are plenty of other members of the recruiting class of 2017 who will have a chance to make a name for themselves next season, including some didn’t play a snap in 2017. So we continue our way-too-early 2018 outlook with a quick peek at five redshirt freshmen who can contribute next season. Check the bottom of this section for links to other posts looking ahead to 2018. Let’s go.

  • Isaiah Wilson, OL — It’s seems like a matter of when not if Wilson gets a spot in starting lineup. Many were surprised he redshirted and didn’t earn one start last year. After a season honing his craft on the scout team, Wilson will be in the running to earn the right tackle spot vacated by newly-christened left tackle Andrew Thomas. If Ben Cleveland wins the gig at right tackle, Wilson could even get a look at guard.
  • Robert Beal, OLB — D’Andre Walker has one starting outside linebacker slot locked up, and Walter Grant has a leg up on the other, but after that, there is a lot of room for young players to earn minutes on the edge. Beal is first among them because he’s already on campus and should have a spot in the rotation, but he’ll have to fight off talented newcomers such as Brenton Cox, Adam Anderson and Azeez Ojulari to keep it.
  • Netori Johnson, OL — Johnson is in the same boat as Wilson; both are massive linemen with tons of talent, and both entered their freshman season with a lot to work on. His future lies at guard, and while he probably won’t start on the interior next season, he could earn minutes as a reserve.
  • Tray Bishop, DB — There are positions up for grabs all over the secondary, which plays right into the hands of a versatile defensive back like Bishop. He worked as a safety during his redshirt freshman season and will have a chance to win Dominick Sanders’ old spot. Some work at nickel corner could also be in the cards for Bishop.
  • Matt Landers, WR — Kirby Smart called Landers “a force to be reckoned with” because of the way he tested the starting corners in practice, often serving as the scout team’s mimic of top receivers such as Equanimeous St. Brown, Bryan Edwards and Calvin Ridley. At 6-foot-5, Landers is the obvious replacement for Javon Wims as the lengthy target for Fromm. If Smart’s words prove true, he could replace Wims in terms of production, too.

Way-Too-Early 2018 Outlook: Schedule breakdown | Top 10 players | Early enrollee rankings

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Georgia hoops edges LSU, 61-60

Georgia hoops followed up consecutive SEC losses with a much-needed win at LSU on Tuesday. The Dawgs overcame a 10-point halftime deficit and Yante Maten hit a game-winning layup with 5 seconds remaining to beat the Tigers, 61-60. Maten provided 21 points and 12 rebounds in victory, his eighth double-double and ninth 20-point performance of the season.

“You’re going to have some knockdown drag-outs in college basketball,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said. “This a big road win for us, and we just keep fighting forward. That’s what you have to do in a league that’s as tough and as deep as this. You’re going to have bumps in the road, you have to keep battling.”

‘He’ll always hold a special place in my heart’

Smart discussed Jacob Eason during an appearance on The Official Visit on 680 the Fan for the first time since Eason announced he’s transferring from the program. Smart had only nice things to say about his former starting quarterback and called Eason “first class.” From Spenser Davis of DawgNation:

“I really thought it was sad that no one got to see the growth he made from Year 1 to Year 2. We never got to really see that, other than a series against [Appalachian] State,” Smart said. “He is a competitor. He saw the way the team was playing, he saw what was going on. He never said a foul word. He was the first one to support Jake Fromm. He helped a lot of other guys on the team through their freshmen year.

“He will always hold a special place in my heart, as well as his family, because of the way he handled everything.”

Smart praises new OLB coach Dan Lanning

In the same radio appearance on 680 the Fan, Smart also made his comments on new outside linebacker coach Dan Lanning, saying the decision to hire the former Memphis assistant was a “no-brainer” and that an offer was extended to Lanning without an interview ever taking place. Smart knows Lanning from the time they spent together at Alabama, and Smart said he even considered hiring Lanning when he was first hired at Georgia in 2015.

From Seth Emerson of DawgNation:

“It was really a no-brainer for me,” Smart said during his radio appearance. “Dan was a guy that I actually considered when I got the job. I wanted to bring him in with coach [Glenn] Schumann. Dan does a tremendous job. I got to watch him work and be around me when I was with the University of Alabama. He had a really good résumé coming into Alabama.” …

“When he went to Memphis, he was able to sign the best non-Power 5 recruiting class in the country as the recruiting coordinator at Memphis,” Smart said. “He had a linebacker that led the country in inside linebackers with sacks and pressures last year at Memphis and broke Memphis records.

“I just know what kind of coach he is. I knew that from being with him. So I was 100 percent confident in who I wanted to hire.”

The early depth chart

It’s too long to republish the entire thing here, but you should check out Emerson’s take on what the depth chart looks like heading into the spring. You can find that here.

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