ESPN makes surprising picks for Georgia’s most important players
The 2019 Georgia team is loaded with great players. There’s quarterback Jake Fromm, running back D’Andre Swift and safety J.R. Reed. Even the Bulldogs’ kicker — Rodrigo Blankenship — is one of the best country.
However, none of those players made ESPN’s list of the 25 most important players in all of college football. Instead, ESPN’s Bill Connelly pegged offensive tackle Andrew Thomas and wide receivers Demetris Robertson and Tyler Simmons as the players most important on the Georgia team.
‘For Thomas, Connelly justified his selection by highlighting how the junior offensive tackle is able to make life so much easier for Fromm, Swift and the rest of the Georgia offense.
“Thomas spent a good portion of last season both battling an ankle injury and playing the best ball on one of the youngest and best lines in the country,” Connelly wrote. “Now, he’s the healthy anchor of maybe the best line in college football. His transcendence might make running back D’Andre Swift and/or quarterback Jake Fromm Heisman contenders.”
In Georgia’s last two seasons, Thomas has started 28 out of 29 games. In both years, the Bulldogs have led the SEC in rushing and won the SEC East both times. With Thomas back this year — to go along with the likes of Solomon Kindley, Isaiah Wilson and Ben Cleveland — Georgia could have the best offensive line in the country.
As for the selections of the two wide receivers, Connelly selected Robertson and Simmons due to the fact that Georgia must replace its top five receiving leaders from a season ago. Robertson and Simmons were both on the team a season ago but combined for just nine catches.
It’s not a guarantee that Robertson or Simmons end up making a significant impact on the team, as the Bulldogs have freshmen such as George Pickens and Dominick Blaylock fighting for playing time as well.
But to start the season, it would be a shock if Robertson and Simmons weren’t starting for the Bulldogs — given the two have spent the entire preseason working with the first team. Robertson has produced at a high level before, but that came in his freshman season at Cal when he caught 50 passes.
“He’s gotten more opportunity. Last year he had a plethora of guys. He had three draft picks in front of him. And he was coming in not knowing an offense,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said of Robertson earlier this month. “Now he’s got three draft picks removed, and he’s the guy that’s out there playing the slot, catching the balls, and he did some nice things today. He’s got to continue to work and improve.”
Some of the players that made Connelly’s list who Georgia will see this season include Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond, South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley and a trio of Notre Dame wide receivers.
The Bulldogs open the 2019 season on Aug. 31 when they take on the Vanderbilt Commodores. The game is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff on the SEC Network.
More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation
- ESPN lays out simple path for Georgia to get back to College Football Playoff
- Georgia football coach Kirby Smart: special teams determines who’s ‘getting on the bus’
- Georgia football podcast: ESPN personality predicts UGA to win national championship
- WATCH: Zamir White runs through another Georgia linebacker in drill video
- Georgia football’s new DC Dan Lanning ‘outside the box,’ impressing Kirby Smart
- 5 takeaways from Georgia football Scrimmage Two: Pass game pivotal