Would you like to receive DawgNation news alerts? Excellent! News alerts will be displayed in your browser.
Jeff Sentell/DawgNation
Kelee Ringo had shoulder surgery.

Kelee Ringo injury another setback for talented Georgia football freshman class

Kelee Ringo sustained a shoulder injury and will miss an indefinite amount of time due to needing surgery to fix the issue, DawgNation learned on Friday morning.

It’s just the latest setback to one of the many talented members of the Georgia 2020 signing class, which ranked first in the country.

Wide receiver Arian Smith, the No. 58 overall prospect in the 2020 cycle and perhaps the fastest player in the class, has had multiple surgeries this offseason, with one on his wrist and another to repair a torn meniscus.

Then Broderick Jones suffered a lower leg injury in July. He was the No. 11 overall prospect in the class and was expected to compete for the starting right tackle job. His injury did not require surgery though unlike Smith and Ringo.

Those three will all miss at least portions of practices for Georgia, as the Bulldogs take the practice field for the first time this coming Monday.  Darnell Washington also had surgery this offseason to clean up his knee, but he is expected to be ready for the start of fall practice.

Adjusting to the college game is a hard enough task for many freshmen. Adding in injuries, especially for some of the top members in the class, will only make things more difficult for the group.

Oh and like everyone else, they’re trying to navigate life in the middle of a pandemic.

With the Ringo injury, four of Georgia’s top eight signees in its 2020 signing class have sustained some sort of injury or had surgery this summer. That’s before Georgia could even hold a padded practice.

Injuries are a part of the game of football, and Georgia certainly isn’t the only program to sustain them. Alabama’s defense a season ago was ravaged by injuries especially at the linebacker spot.

And don’t expect anyone to take pity on the Bulldogs either. In signing the No. 1 class in the country, the Bulldogs had nine players who ranked among the top-60 prospects in the country. Even if you remove the four that have been injured or had surgery this offseason, the Bulldogs still have five other top-60 players.

That’s more than Ohio State’s four and Florida’s one. Such are the benefits when you sign the most top-60 players for the 2021 cycle.

As of right now, Georgia does still expect to have all four of those freshmen back at some point during the season, with Ringo being the only true unknown. But all four of the injured players we’ve previously referenced had decent sized expectations entering this season.

Related: Georgia football 2020 signees best positioned to make an early impact

Jones was thought of as a serious candidate to be the starting right tackle in the season-opener, even despite what history says on his chances. No wide receiver is as fast as Smith and his speed is something Georgia was clearly lacking on offense in 2019. There was also the chance he emerged as Georgia’s kick and punt returner as well.

Washington’s size allows him to be a match-up nightmare and the Bulldogs have to replace their top two contributors at the tight end position from a season ago.

And while the Georgia secondary is still brimming with talent, Kirby Smart has had no issue playing talented freshmen in the secondary before. And Ringo might be the most talented freshman defensive back Smart has had since the latter arrived at Georgia.

If all four of those players do miss time during the fall practices in the run-up to the first game on Sept. 26, it could have season-long ramifications on playing time. A season ago, incoming 5-star linebacker Nakobe Dean seemed poised to take on significant snaps at linebacker. He suffered an ankle injury in August though and while he was fully healthy in a few short weeks, it did take him longer than expected to make an impact on the Georgia defense.

With the Bulldogs having the likes of Jalen Carter, Jermaine Burton, Kendall Milton and Marcus Rosemy all still healthy, the Bulldogs will still find ways to get some of their talented freshman involved in this upcoming season.

And the freshman will have more time to get adjusted to the college life prior to the first game, which is now set for Sept. 26. While the early enrollees — such as Kendall Milton, Jalen Kimber and Carson Beck — lost the edge of getting spring practices, a delayed start to the season does help out the group of newcomers.

Others who really seem to benefit include those who are recovering from injuries, such as wide receiver Dominick Blaylock.

RelatedThe 4 types of Georgia football players who benefit the most from a delayed start to 2020 season

Ringo now fits onto both of those lists.

The injuries though will force Georgia’s veterans though to do even more in this upcoming season. In a year where depth figures to be more important than ever, having as many healthy and available bodies can go a long way in determining who ends up having a successful season.

More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation

We have a new way to comment on our DawgNation stories. To do so, you must be a registered user on the DawgNation forum. If you haven’t registered, please go to the Forum homepage on DawgNation and look for “register” on the right side.