DawgNation will offer this report after every game which focuses on the freshmen who played, what they did and who might lose one of those newly-reshaped (four games or less) redshirts. Check out this Georgia football edition after the Dooley Field dedication game with Murray State.
Georgia has signed 12 prospects with a 5-star rating over the last two recruiting cycles.
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.
This weekly edition is going to go heavy on the word “first” because there was a lot of those where the freshmen Bulldogs were concerned Saturday with Murray State.
What did the youth movement look like at home against Murray State? We’ll kick it off with some cold hard numbers:
- 29 of the 86 Bulldogs who played were freshmen (redshirt or true freshmen)
- Georgia did not start a true freshman against Vanderbilt but did start redshirt freshman Azeez Ojulari
- The Bulldogs did start a 2019 signee in JUCO transfer Jermaine Johnson
- DawgNation does not produce a walk-on report, but the Bulldogs did get eight of those in on Saturday, including RB Sevaughn Clark and QB Nathan Priestley. Both were true freshmen.
Georgia football: The firsts for the freshmen vs. Murray State
- Dominick Blaylock: First catch, first game, first punt return and first touchdown
- Lewis Cine: First career tackle
- Sevaughn Clark: First career carry (preferred walk-on)
- Nakobe Dean: First career tackle
- John FitzPatrick: First career catch
- Kenny McIntosh: First game, first carry, first “wow” play and first touchdown the referees missed
- George Pickens: First “wow” play and first career touchdown catch
- Nolan Smith: First career sack
- Nathan Priestley: The preferred walk-on QB completed his first pass at UGA
- Zamir White: First career touchdown run and his first time leading the Bulldogs in rushing
- First career games as Bulldogs (2019 signees): WR Dominick Blaylock, TE Ryland Goede, DL Zion Logue, 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.
Who played against Murray State (by classes):
- Freshmen: 19
- Redshirt freshmen: 8
- Sacks by true or redshirt freshmen: Azeez Ojulari (0.5); Nolan Smith (1.5) and Travon Walker (0.5)
- Touchdowns scored by true freshmen: WR Dominick Blaylock, WR George Pickens and RB Zamir White.
Murray State game freshman focus
Georgia played 29 redshirt or true or freshmen against Murray State. That’s 29 out of the 86 total Bulldogs who saw the field. As a means of comparison, the Bulldogs played 13 redshirt or true freshmen last week against Vanderbilt.
The big picture tallies up to 33 percent of all the Bulldogs who played on Saturday. That equates to:
- 1 of 3 QBs
- 3 of 7 RBs
- 4 of 10 WRs
- 5 of 14 OLs
- 4 of 7 TEs (includes two walk-ons)
- 4 of 12 DLs
- 2 of 7 ILBs
- 2 of 6 OLBs
- 3 of 15 DBs
- 0 of 2 PKs
- 0 of 1 Ps
- 1 of 2 LSs
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 (2 games)
Who started against Murray State (all freshmen): Redshirt freshman OLB Azeez Ojulari
THE BIG PICTURE, PART 1a and 1b
Freshman Game Balls
True freshmen George Pickens and Nolan Smith
Yep. I split the game ball in half this week. That’s a first for the “Freshmen Report” each week. That’s because there was a lot to like about what both did on Saturday.
Pickens provided the biggest exclamation points on Saturday with two very nice catches out of his four grabs. Yet Smith was right there, too. He was delivering constant pressure off the edges against the Racers.
Everyone notices those explosive plays on offense. Pickens had one of those and a touchdown catch. Yet the pass rusher’s equivalent of those scoring plays would be a sack. Smith was in on two of those against Murray State.
- The George Pickens stat line: 4 catches for 74 yards, 18.5 yards per catch, 1 15-yard TD, 1 punishing block, 1 block with sprung a long D’Andre Swift run
- The Nolan Smith stat line: 3 total tackles, 1.5 sacks for 10 yards in losses, 1.5 tackles for losses
- What Kirby Smart first said about Pickens: “George made some big plays. We’ve seen him do that. He’s a talented kid.”
- What Smart also said about Pickens: “George has stepped up and started to become an overall player. Probably the most impressive thing he did today was a block on D’Andre Swift’s long run. He did a great job going down in and digging a safety out. When you can go and down that as a freshman that is more impressive to me than diving and catching a ball. He’s growing as a player. He’s got to learn to control his emotions a little bit. He’s very emotional. He’s a passionate player. I don’t ever want to take that away from him because I think that’s what makes him who he is. But he’s got to be smart and play within our system and understand that just because you make a play you can’t talk to the opponent.”
- What Kirby Smart said about Nolan Smith: “He’s got a tremendous motor. He plays really hard. He’s another one that plays with a passion and an energy. It is important to him. Love the way Nolan plays. If he can continue to grow and play with physicality and match up against bigger people he’s going to be able to help us. He’s got a lot of speed.”
Notable playing time for other freshmen against Murray State
- Freshman WR Dominick Blaylock: Blaylock caught three passes for 48 yards, including that 25-yard touchdown. He also had one punt return for 11 yards.
- Freshman ILB Nakobe Dean: The former 5-star had three tackles and a half-tackle for a loss.
- Freshman RB Kenny McIntosh: The true freshman RB from South Florida led all Bulldog rushers with his nine carries and wound up with 61 yards, including a nice 26-yard scamper that almost resulted in his first Georgia touchdown.
Video replays: The Freshmen Report from social media
Good lord pic.twitter.com/Cq0bnaG3H4
— blakejmorgan (@bIakejmorgan) September 7, 2019
— HRKK (Hiro Katsuki) (@KatsukiFB) September 7, 2019
George Pickens’ catch radius 🤤⭕️ pic.twitter.com/0Zga0C8qWb
— Dayne Young (@dayneyoung) September 8, 2019
This guy was born to play for Georgia.
— All-American Bowl (@AABonNBC) September 7, 2019
CFB World, meet true freshman George Pickens. pic.twitter.com/yLJKGFbHtK
— All College Football (@allcfb_) September 7, 2019
Jake Fromm drops a dime for a George Pickens diving catch and then finds him for a TD 2 plays later! NASTY pic.twitter.com/DqEk1yy5FP
— Bobby Skinner (@BobbySkinnerNFL) September 7, 2019
As I been saying, George Pickens is the real deal @UGAAthletics
— TE Wr Academy (@TEwracademy) September 7, 2019
Pickens is a natural. He’s gonna be SPECIAL
— FOST (@GeorgeFoster72) September 7, 2019
THE BIG PICTURE, PART II
What was another buzz-worthy (redshirt) freshman moment of the game? It had to be the Sanford Stadium debut of the redshirt freshman tailback Zamir White.
Did the Zeeeuuuus” happen on his first carry? Yes
It does say something about the future of this program when we can get this deep into the freshmen report before we can shine a light on a freshman leading the Bulldogs in rushing in any game.
This continues to be an even better story when that freshman is the redshirt RB from Scotland County in North Carolina.
The weekly Zamir White stuff
The Zamir White stat line: He had eight carries for 72 yards, including a 29-yard burst. He scored his first career TD on a 5-yard run with 2:11 left to play in the first half.
Subtle White thought for the week: He’s learning more and more each week on how to pass protect at the college level. That was the most memorable thing his head coach said in his post-game presser afterward concerning White.
Kirby Smart on Zamir White: “I was most proud of Zamir today – all you guys are talking about his carries and his nine yards – he picked up a blitzing backer in the ‘A’ gap and he smacked him right in the jaw. Go back and watch that one. That’s what being a running back is all about. He played with great physicality and he protected the quarterback.”
Smart also noted that elite HS running backs aren’t asked to do much blitz protection in high school during their prep days. But that is a staple of the Georgia program for its backs. He will continue to earn more and more playing time the better he gets at that.
THE BIG PICTURE, PART III
WHICH FRESHMEN HAVE PLAYED IN EVERY GAME SO FAR?
The following true or redshirt freshmen Bulldogs have played in every game so far this season:
- S Lewis Cine
- ILB Nakobe Dean
- Redshirt TE John FitzPatrick
- Redshirt freshman WR Jaylen Johnson (preferred walk-on)
- ILB Trezmen Marshall
- Redshirt OLB Azeez Ojulari
- WR George Pickens
- CB Tyrique Stevenson
- OLB Nolan Smith
- 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 12 defensive linemen on Saturday night against Murray State. There are only seven of those (sophomore Jordan Davis, junior Malik Herring, freshman Zion Logue, freshman Tymon Mitchell, freshman Bill Norton, junior Devonte Wyatt and freshmen Travon Walker) who have the option to return next season. It is worth noting that the Bulldogs only played eight DLs in the SEC opener at Vanderbilt. There were only three of those guys with eligibility left after this season. (REMEDY: Georgia already has secured commitments from a trio 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 another 67 yards on six carries against Murray State with two scores. 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 played three quarterbacks against Murray State. True freshman D’Wan Mathis dressed but did not get in the game. Mathis is still recovering from brain surgery, but he is practicing. Priestley served as the 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
The Bulldogs who have seen action so far in 2019 is worth watching in terms of the new redshirt rules.
- QB Stetson Bennett IV (redshirt sophomore): 1 game (Murray State)
- WR Dominick Blaylock: 1 game (Murray State)
- WR Lawrence Cager (grad transfer senior): 2 games
- S Lewis Cine: 2 games
- CB D.J. Daniel (junior college transfer): 1 game
- ILB Rian Davis: 0 games
- ILB Nakobe Dean: 2 games
- TE Ryland Goede: 1 game (Murray State)
- OLB Jermaine Johnson (junior college transfer): 2 games
- DL Zion Logue: 1 game (Murray State)
- ILB Trezmen Marshall: 2 games
- QB D’Wan Mathis: (0 games)
- OL Warren McClendon: 1 game (Murray State)
- RB Kenny McIntosh: 1 game (Murray State)
- DL Tymon Mitchell: 1 game (Murray State)
- DL Bill Norton: 1 game (Murray State)
- WR George Pickens: 2 games
- TE Brett Seither: 1 game (Murray State)
- OLB Nolan Smith: 2 games
- CB Tyrique Stevenson: 2 games
- WR Makiya Tongue: 1 game (Murray State)
- OL Xavier Truss: 1 game (Murray State)
- DT Travon Walker: 2 games
- DL Tramel Walthour: 0 games
- OL Clay Webb: 1 game (Murray State)
- TE Eli Wolf (grad transfer senior): 2 games
True freshmen players who did not play this week: 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 Murray State 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
- Sophomore OL Cade Mays
- Redshirt freshman OLB Azeez Ojulari
- Sophomore S Otis Reese
- Sophomore DB Chris Smith II
- Sophomore OL Jamaree Salyer (first career start)
- Sophomore ILB Channing Tindall
- Sophomore ILB Quay Walker
- Redshirt freshman RB Zamir White
- Redshirt freshman DB Divaad Wilson
- Junior DL Devonte Wyatt
2018 signees who did not show on the game participation report:
- WR Tommy Bush (Did not dress)
- OT Owen Condon: (Did not dress)
A few last words
What did everyone have to say after Saturday’s game?
There were some notable post-game comments from a few Bulldogs regarding a few true freshmen or redshirt freshmen on Saturday night.
- Jake Fromm on what George Pickens brings to the offense: “Explosiveness. He’s a big-time guy. Really good player. Really good kid. He needs to clean up some of the little things. Some of the little details and we’re talking to him about that and its awesome. He had tremendous potential and I hope he can go out and play better next week.
- D’Andre Swift on that Pickens leaping catch: “Amazing. He does that every day in practice so we know what he can do.”
- Swift on White’s first touchdown: “Amazing. So excited to see him get his first touchdown. He was happy. We were all happy for that young man.”
- Swift on what he told White after that score: “I told him it was one of many. He was like ‘Brah I scored’ and I was ‘I told you that you were going to score there is many more to come.”
- JR Reed on what he likes right now about Nolan Smith: “A young guy that’s ready to work and doesn’t care what position he is playing. He is going to go out there and do his job.”
The 2019 Freshman Reports on DawgNation