Azeez Ojulari-UGA football-Georgia football
Redshirt freshman Azeez Ojulari had a fine 2019 debut at Vanderbilt.

Georgia football Freshmen Report: Georgia 30, Vanderbilt 6

Georgia signed seven recruits with a 5-star rating in 2018. It was a modern record for 5-star signees on the 247Sports Composite a year ago.

That’s why the DawgNation freshman report came out after every game last season. The aim there was to place a good zoom lens on the freshman contributions for the nation’s No. 1 signing class in 2018.

It still serves a place this season after the Bulldogs signed the nation’s No. 2 signing class in 2019. That 5-star count rose to five with the 2019 class.

What did the youth movement look like against Vanderbilt? Here are some cold hard numbers:

  • 28 of the 61 Bulldogs who played came from the program’s freshmen and sophomore classes
  • Georgia did not start a freshman against Vanderbilt
  • The Bulldogs started three redshirt freshmen against Vanderbilt in TE John FitzPatrick, WR Kearis Jackson and OLB Azeez Ojulari.

Who played against Vanderbilt (by classes):

Georgia counted on 13 redshirt or true freshmen in its season-opening 30-6 win against Vanderbilt. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
  • Graduate transfers: 3
  • Redshirt seniors: 5
  • Seniors: 7
  • Redshirt juniors: 4
  • Juniors: 13
  • Sophomores: 11
  • Redshirt sophomores: 4
  • Freshmen: 7
  • Redshirt freshmen: 6

Vanderbilt game freshman focus

True freshman receiver Dominick Blaylock was one of 11 true freshmen to make the trip to Vanderbilt for the season opener. He did not play in the game, though. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Georgia played 13 redshirt or true or freshmen against Alabama. That’s 13 out of the 61 total Bulldogs who saw the field. As a means of comparison, the Bulldogs played 14 redshirt or true freshmen in the 2018 SEC Championship Game against Alabama.

The big picture tallies up to 21 percent of all the Bulldogs who played on Saturday. That equates to:

  • 0 of 1 QBs
  • 1 of 5 RBs
  • 2 of 7 WRs
  • 0 of 8 OLs
  • 1 of 3 TEs
  • 1 of 8 DLs
  • 2 of 7 ILBs
  • 2 of 4 OLBs
  • 2 of 7 CBs
  • 1 of 6 Ss
  • 0 of 1 PKs
  • 0 of 1 Ps
  • 1 of 2 LSs

To be very clear, some of those 13 names only played on the kick teams. Special teams are still a vital one-third of the game. Those Bulldogs earned those reps for the conference opener.

FRESHMEN STARTERS IN 2019

What’s more important? Snaps or starts? Both are important, but there is a reason why certain players start the game and stay on the field for the biggest plays. That’s because the coaches trust them to play winning football by what they have seen on the practice field.

There are common instances where the scheme fit based on each opponent allows for a different starting rotation as well.

Here is the weekly list of the true freshmen and redshirt freshmen that have started games in 2019.

  • Redshirt freshman TE John FitzPatrick (1 game)
  • Redshirt freshman WR Kearis Jackson (1 game)
  • Redshirt freshman OLB Azeez Ojualari (1 games)

How many freshmen played against Vanderbilt (true or redshirt): 13

Who started against Vanderbilt (all freshmen): R-Fr. John FitzPatrick; R-Fr. Kearis Jackson, R-Fr. Azeez Ojualari

THE BIG PICTURE, PART I

The freshmen report gave its Freshmen Game Ball to redshirt freshman OLB Azeez Ojulri after the Vanderbilt win. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Freshman Game Ball

Redshirt freshman OLB Azeez Ojualri

Zamir White runs very low to the ground when he gets through the line of scrimmage. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

What was the most buzz-worthy freshman moment of the game? It had to be the debut of the redshirt freshman tailback Zamir White. He almost broke free for a touchdown and electrified the crowd on at least two other occasions.

He flashed good explosiveness, change-of-direction and overall speed at right around 230 pounds. White’s style will remind Bulldog fans of a cross between Nick Chubb and Knowshon Moreno. There was one carry where he took a few defenders for an Uber ride and then bounded up like his hip pads and britches were on fire.

That was eerily reminiscent of what Moreno used to do at Georgia.

The Zamir White stat line: He had five carries for 51 yards, including a 23-yard burst in the second half. The ball was popped out by a Vanderbilt’s Tae Daley and it bounded out of bounds. The Bulldogs retained possession.

White first entered the game when: He picked up a three-yard gain on the first Georgia possession of the second half. The nation’s No. 1 RB prospect from 2018 did not score on his first carry at the college level. White did accomplish that feat on his first carry in high school and recreation league football growing up in North Carolina.

Subtle White thought for the week: Did you see him before the game catching kickoffs with the special teams unit? It looks like he is in the mix to return kickoffs this fall.

THE BIG PICTURE, PART III

Nolan Smith played early and often and very well against Vanderbilt. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

TRAVEL ROSTER FOR VANDERBILT

The following true or redshirt freshmen Bulldogs made the travel roster for Vanderbilt:

  • WR Dominick Blaylock
  • S Lewis Cine
  • ILB Nakobe Dean
  • Redshirt OL Warren Ericson
  • Redshirt TE John FitzPatrick
  • Redshirt WR Kearis Jackson
  • ILB Trezmen Marshall
  • RB Kenny McIntosh
  • Redshirt OLB Azeez Ojulari
  • WR George Pickens
  • Walk-on QB Nathan Priestley
  • CB Tyrique Stevenson
  • OLB Nolan Smith
  • OL Xavier Truss
  • Redshirt walk-on LS Payne Walker
  • DT Travon Walker
  • Redshirt DB Divaad Wilson
  • Redshirt RB Zamir White

 

What should Georgia’s 2020 recruiting class address? These answers are already showing up on the recruiting trail, but it seems apparent watching a few trends at work.

DL: Georgia played eight defensive linemen on Saturday night against Vanderbilt. There are only three of those (junior Devonte Wyatt, sophomore Jordan Davis and freshmen Travon Walker) who have the option to return next season. (REMEDY: Georgia already has secured commitments from a quartet of 4-star DLs for the 2020 class, including the nation’s No. 6 DT in Florida resident Jalen Carter.)

  • RB: Junior D’Andre Swift ran for 149 yards against Vanderbilt. He should be one of the first three RBs taken in the 2020 NFL Draft. Senior Brian Herrien is also on his last year of eligibility. (REMEDY: Georgia already has a commitment from the nation’s No. 3 RB for 2020 in Kendall Milton. The Bulldogs are also in the thick of the race for the nation’s No. 1 RB in Zachary Evans, too.)
  • OT: Starters Andrew Thomas is very high on NFL Draft board. He is not expected to return for his senior season. Redshirt sophomore OT Isaiah Wilson is also an NFL prototype due to his size and speed. He could also go pro. (REMEDY: Georgia already has commitments from the nation’s No. 2, No.3, No. 15 and No. 21 offensive tackle prospects for 2020, respectively.)
  • QB: The Bulldogs had just two scholarship QBs on the bus for the SEC road opener at Vanderbilt. Jake Fromm is a junior who could turn pro after this season. True freshman D’Wan Mathis did not make the trip. Mathis is still recovering from brain surgery, but he is practicing. Georgia brought preferred walk-on QB Nathan Priestly to Nashville as its No. 3 QB. (REMEDY: Georgia has a stout verbal commitment from 4-star QB Carson Beck. The former Alabama commit will enroll early in January. Beck rates as the nation’s No. 3 pro-style QB for 2020.)
  • K: Rodrigo “Hot Rod” Blankenship is back for his fourth season and fifth year in Athens. The Bulldogs do not have another scholarship kicker on the roster. (REMEDY: The Bulldogs have already squared this away with the commitment of 3-star Texan Jared Zirkel. Zirkel drilled a 59-yard field goal in competition as a junior. He will have one of the strongest legs in the SEC next year.)

Participation for 2019 signees 

True freshmen ILB Nakobe Dean was limited in action against Vanderbilt, but he did show up on the game participation reports. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

The Bulldogs who saw action in Nashville is worth watching in terms of the new redshirt rules.

  • WR Lawrence Cager (grad transfer senior): 1 game
  • S Lewis Cine: 1 game
  • CB D.J. Daniel (junior college transfer): 1 game
  • ILB Nakobe Dean: 1 game
  • OLB Jermaine Johnson (junior college transfer): 1 game
  • ILB Trezmen Marshall: 1 game
  • WR George Pickens: 1 game
  • CB Tyrique Stevenson: 1 game
  • OLB Nolan Smith: 1 game
  • DT Travon Walker: 1 game
  • TE Eli Wolf (grad transfer senior): 1 game

Redshirt status watch (season):

  • WR Lawrence Cager (grad transfer senior): 1 game
  • S Lewis Cine: 1 game
  • CB D.J. Daniel (junior college transfer): 1 game
  • ILB Nakobe Dean: 1 game
  • OLB Jermaine Johnson (junior college transfer): 1 game
  • ILB Trezmen Marshall: 1 game
  • WR George Pickens: 1 game
  • CB Tyrique Stevenson: 1 game
  • OLB Nolan Smith: 1 game
  • DT Travon Walker: 1 game
  • TE Eli Wolf (grad transfer senior): 1 game

True freshmen players who did not play this week: WR Dominick Blaylock, ILB Rian Davis, TE Ryland Goede, DL Zion Logue, QB D’Wan Mathis, OL Warren McClendon, RB Kenny McIntosh, DL Tymon Mitchell, DL Bill Norton, TE Brett Seither, WR Makiya Tongue, OT Xavier Truss and OL Clay Webb.

What about the 2018 Georgia class?

2018 signees who did show up on the Vanderbilt participation report:

  • Sophomore OLB Adam Anderson
  • Sophomore P Jake Camarda
  • Sophomore RB James Cook
  • Sophomore DT Jordan Davis
  • Sophomore CB Tyson Campbell
  • Redshirt freshman TE John FitzPatrick
  • Sophomore OL Trey Hill
  • Redshirt freshman WR Kearis Jackson
  • Sophomore OL Cade Mays
  • Redshirt freshman OLB Azeez Ojulari
  • Sophomore S Otis Reese
  • Sophomore DB Chris Smith II
  • Sophomore ILB Channing Tindall
  • Sophomore ILB Quay Walker
  • Redshirt freshman RB Zamir White 
  • Redshirt freshman DB Divaad Wilson
  • Junior DL Devonte Wyatt
  • WR Tommy Bush (Did not travel)
  • OT Owen Condon: (Did not travel)
  • OL Warren Ericson (Made the travel roster)
  • OL Jamaree Salyer (Did not travel/Injury)

A few last words

True freshman CB Tyrique Stevenson has impressed in fall camp. He also got to see some late action against Vanderbilt. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

What did everyone have to say after Saturday’s game?

There were some notable post-game comments from a few Bulldogs in regard to a few true freshmen or redshirt freshmen on Saturday night.

Azeez Ojulari on Nolan Smith: “Man, Nolan is just effort. Relentless. Ball get off. He’s a beast, man. He’s a beast, too. Everyone in that [OLB] room is a beast.”

Jake Fromm on Zamir White and his first carry: “It was awesome, man. It kind of caught me off-guard a little bit. The stands were booing. I’m like ‘why are they booing’ and then I heard and I realized ‘oh it is Zeeeeeuuuus’ and ‘i get it and that is good’ and then he took off with a long run. He fumbled so we have got to take care of the ball there. But man, great to see him really back out there running fast, physical and strong like he is. It was really good to see him out there.” 

Brian Herrien on Zamir White: “Aw, mam. I’m happy. I’m lit. I’m so happy for him. He is doing good. I’m just glad he gets to play now. It has been a minute.”

True freshmen safety Lewis Cine traveled and played on Saturday. Look for him to already be able to help Georgia in his first year. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)