Georgia senior safety Christopher Smith making another run at CFP championship with Bulldogs

Georgia Bulldogs defensive back Christopher Smith (29) tackles Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Jameson Williams (1) for a 1-yard loss in the first quarter at the 2022 College Football Playoff National Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Monday, Jan. 10, 2022. (Curtis Compton/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

Smith had a career-high seven tackles and an interception in Georgia’s 33-18 win over Alabama in the CFP Championship Game last Monday, along with a pivotal third down PBU as the Bulldogs’ defense dominated the game.

The rising fifth-year senior became a part of Georgia folklore with a 74-yard Pick-6 in the win over Clemson, providing the only touchdown and launching the Bulldogs on their first national championship run since 1980.

Smith also threw a key block on Kelee Ringo’s game-clinching 79-yard interception return for a touchdown.

Smith suffered a late-season knee injury that forced him to mss the Charleston Southern and Georgia Tech games, but he worked feverishly to rehab and be back on the field to help the Bulldogs’ young secondary in the postseason.

The news of Smith’s return will be music to Kirby Smart’s ears as Georgia will suffer heavy attrition off its championship defensive unit.

Seniors Jordan Davis, Devonte Wyatt, Quay Walker, Channing Tindall and Derion Kendrick are moving on, and underclassmen Nakobe Dean and Travon Walker are projected first-round picks who are also expected to enter the 2022 NFL Draft. Linebacker Robert Beal, Jr. is also a potential returnee because he took a redshirt season and also has that bonus Covid-19 year.

UGA has had three defensive backs enter the portal, as well: Cornerbacks Jalen Kimber and Ameer Speed, and safety Latavious Brini.

The offense is losing running backs Zamir White and James Cook, along with team captain and left tackle Jamaree Salyer and offensive guard Justin Shaffer.

Quarterback Stetson Bennett has said he wants to play another year of college football but only if he can “trust the decisions made” by Smart and the UGA coaching staff.

DEFENSE

Key returning players

DT Jalen Carter

DL Zion Logue

DL Warren Brinson

CB Kelee Ringo

LB Jamon Dumas-Johnson

FS Christopher Smith

SS Dan Jackson

Star Tykee Smith

Unknown/not announced

OLB Nolan Smith

DB Lovasea Carroll

CB Nyland Green

LB Nakobe Dean (projected first-round pick)

OLB Adam Anderson (suspended indefinitely)

DE Travon Walker (projected first-round pick)

OLB Robert Beal, Jr.

Departing players

NT Jordan Davis

DT Devonte Wyatt

LB Quay Walker

LB Channing Tindall

SS Lewis Cine

CB Derion Kendrick

CB Jalen Kimber (portal)

CB Ameer Speed (portal)

DB Latavious Brini (portal)

OFFENSE

Key Returning Players

OT Broderick Jones

OL Sedrick Van Pran

OL Tate Ratledge

OT Warren McClendon

OG Warren Ericson

OT Amarius Mims

TE Brock Bowers

WR Adonai Mitchell

WR Ladd McConkey

RB Kenny McIntosh

RB Kendall Milton

RB Daijun Edwards

QB Brock Vandagriff

Unknown/not announced

WR Kearis Jackson

WR Arian Smith

WR Jermaine Burton

WR Arik Gilbert

WR Dominick Blaylock

WR Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint

TE John FitzPatrick

OL Clay Webb

OL Owen Condon

TE Darnell Washington

QB Carson Beck

QB Stetson Bennett

QB JT Daniels

PK Jack Podlesny (graduate)

Departing players

RB Zamir White

RB James Cook

WR George Pickens

OL Jamaree Salyer

OG Justin Shaffer

WR Justin Robinson (portal)

WR Jaylen Johnson (portal)

P Jake Camarda

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