Would you like to receive DawgNation news alerts? Excellent! News alerts will be displayed in your browser.
Jeff Sentell/DawgNation
Redshirt freshman OLB Azeez Ojualri leads the DawgNation "Freshmen Report" again this week.

Georgia football freshmen report: UGA 24, Florida 17

DawgNation will offer this report after every game which focuses on the freshmen who played, what they did and which ones might lose one of those newfangled (four games or less) redshirts.  Check out the Georgia football edition from that 24-17 takedown of a stout Florida football team. 

The freshmen were on the field for another true redemption game against Florida in Jacksonville.

For the second straight week, it was an outing where the Bulldogs played their fewest players of the season. Georgia sent 57 players onto the field at TIAA Bank Field on Saturday.

It matches the season-low total set against Kentucky prior to the off week.

The Bulldogs played 14 freshmen (redshirt and true) players while notching their third straight triumph of the mighty Gators.

How did that freshmen participation compare to previous weeks?

  • 14 of the 57 players who lined up against Kentucky
  • 15 of the 62 against South Carolina
  • 15 of 63 at Tennessee
  • 13 of 60 against Notre Dame
  • 30 of 86 vs. Arkansas State
  • 29 of 86 vs. Murray State
  • 13 of 61 at Vanderbilt

<a href=

Rapid-fire game participation bullets from Georgia-Florida

  • UGA started two redshirt freshmen in Azeez Ojulari (OLB) and Kearis Jackson (WR)
  • True freshman WR Dominick Blaylock notched his first career start. It marked only the second other time (WR Georgia Pickens vs. Kentucky) in which a true freshman started this season.
  • JUCO transfer DJ Daniel had his fifth straight start.
  • Georgia’s defensive line is better when Travon Walker is in there. He clearly adds another layer of athleticism, skill, size and tenacity (two tackles, one pass breakup) when he is on the field.
  • The thought of Ojulari and Walker still having eligibility in 2020 (at least) along the Georgia defensive front should be cause for a pretty healthy outlook for that unit
  • There were 10 freshmen among the 47 players that Florida played on Saturday.

Who played against Florida (by classes):

  • Freshmen: 9
  • Redshirt freshmen: 5
  • Touchdowns by true or redshirt freshmen: 1 (Blaylock)
  • True or redshirt freshmen among the leading tacklers: 2 (Ojulari, Divaad Wilson)

Florida game freshman focus

Georgia played 14 redshirt or true freshmen. The big picture still tallies up to 24 percent of all the Bulldogs who played on Saturday. That equates to:

  • 0 of 1 QBs (1 QBs played in the previous game)
  • 2 of 6 RBs (6 RBs played in the previous game)
  • 3 of 5 WRs  (5 WRs played in the previous game)
  • 0 of 7 OLs (7 OLs played in the previous game)
  • 1 of 3 TEs (3 TEs played in the previous game)
  • 1 of 8 DLs (8 DLs played in the previous game
  • 2 of 7 ILBs (7 ILBs played in the previous game)
  • 2 of 5 OLBs (5 OLBs played in the previous game)
  • 3 of 11 DBs (12 DBs played in the previous game)
  • 0 of 1 PKs (No change versus the previous game)
  • 0 of 1 Ps (No change from the previous game)
  • 1 of 2 LSs (No change from the previous game)

What that study has shown far this year: Georgia plays the same group of DLs, ILBs and OLBs regardless of the quality of the opponent.

FRESHMEN BULLDOGS 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 (2 games)
  • Redshirt freshman OLB Azeez Ojulari (8 games)
  • Redshirt freshman DB Divaad Wilson (2 games)
  • Freshman WR George Pickens (1 game)
  • Freshman WR Dominick Blaylock (1 game)

Who started against Florida (all freshmen): Blaylock, Jackson and Ojulari.

How many different Bulldogs have played in 2019: 97

How many of those have been freshmen or redshirt freshmen: 34 (35 percent of all participation)

Dominick Blaylock-Georgia football-UGA football
Dominick Blaylock started his first game as a Bulldog against Florida. He is only the second true freshman (George Pickens) to do so in 2019. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Georgia football: Participation in 2019

  • Redshirt or grad transfer seniors: 9
  • Seniors: 8
  • Redshirt juniors: 5
  • Juniors: 15
  • Redshirt sophomores: 14
  • Sophomores: 12
  • Redshirt freshmen: 11
  • Freshmen: 23
  • Of note: Georgia has seen six of its true freshmen play in every game this year. That’s out of the 23 freshmen who have played so far in 2019. (Lewis Cine, Nakobe Dean, Trezmen Marshall, George Pickens, Nolan Smith and Tyrique Stevenson.)

THE BIG PICTURE, PART I

Freshman Game Ball 

Azeez Ojulari-Georgia football-UGA football
Azeez Ojulari picked up another sack for Georgia against Florida. He now leads the team with 4.5 sacks this season. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

OLB Azeez Ojulari (Marietta High/Marietta, Ga.)

Ojulari earns this weekly “Freshmen Report” honor for the third time this season.

  • The stat line: 5 total tackles/1 solo tackle/1 sack/1 tackle for loss
  • The biggest play he made was: Ojulari took down Florida QB Kyle Trask on 2nd-and-15 from the Florida 44. The 10-yard loss backed Florida up to a third-and-25 from their own 34.
  • Final 247Sports Composite recruiting rankings: Nation’s No.10 weak-side DE/No. 144 overall prospect/Ojulari was the 15th highest-rated recruit in Georgia’s 2018 class.
  • Former All-American: Yes (Ojulari was a 2018 U.S. Army All-American)
  • Notable for Ojuari this year: He became the first freshman captain for the Bulldogs of the Kirby Smart era earlier this year at Tennessee.

There are a couple of elements to point out here from the day he had:

  • Extends his team-high sack total to 4.5
  • Extends his team lead in TFLs to 5.0
  • He is now fifth on the team with his 25 tackles
  • Has a commanding lead in QB hurries this year with 24. Junior DE Malik Herring is the next-closest Bulldog in that category with 11

Why did he choose Georgia? Ojulari chose Georgia just before the start of his senior year at Marietta High. He just loved the fit and the direction of the program under Smart. 

Georgia football: Freshmen Report “Game balls” for 2019

  • Redshirt OLB Azeez Ojualri: (Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Florida)
  • WR George Pickens (Murray State, South Carolina)
  • WR Dominick Blaylock (Arkansas State)
  • OLB Nolan Smith (Murray State)
  • ILB Nakobe Dean: Kentucky
  • DB Divaad Wilson: Notre Dame

Notable time for other freshmen against Florida

  • Freshman WR Dominick Blaylock: Had just one catch for three yards. But it was a big one that gave Georgia a 10-0 lead with 4:43 left to play in the first half. Came up with several good blocks on the perimeter as well. Remember those red-zone woes from 2018? Blaylock solved those with a big catch and then slipped a tackle before landing in the end zone.
  • Redshirt freshman Divaad Wilson: Finished fifth on the team with his three tackles against Florida. It was his first game against the Gators. The one-time Florida commitment missed last year’s win while recovering from his knee injury.
  • Freshman ILB Nakobe Dean: Was always around the ball. Had a key stop in bringing down a Florida ballcarrier shy of the first down mark. Finished with two tackles.
Dominick Blaylock-Georgia football-UGA football
Dominick Blaylock also returned a punt for seven yards on Saturday. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

FRESHMEN SUPERLATIVES FOR 2019

There are a number of categories in which a redshirt or a true freshmen Bulldog is already leading the team in 2019.

  • Receptions in a game: 7 (Tied: George Pickens)
  • Longest catch: 60 (Blaylock)
  • Longest TD catch: 60 (Blaylock)
  • Longest run: 62 (Kenny McIntosh)
  • Longest TD run: 62 (McIntosh)
  • Sacks (game): 2.0 (Ojulari
  • Sacks (season): 4.5 (Ojulari)
  • Tackles for a loss (game): 2 (Ojulari)
  • Interceptions (game): 1 (Lewis Cine and Divaad Wilson, tied for season-high)
  • Interceptions (season): 1 (Cine and Wilson, tied for first)

THE BIG PICTURE, PART II

Travon Walker-Georgia football-UGA football
Travon Walker returned to the field for Georgia on Saturday. He delivered another strong freshman outing. (Bob Andres/AJC)

HOT BOARD: Game-by-game freshman heat check

Let’s continue the blog with an assessment of the five most valuable freshmen and redshirt freshmen to the team for the 2019 season. This feature is a nod to the top freshmen (redshirt or true) who have impacted the overall balance of the season the most up to this point.

  • No. 1: OLB Azeez Ojulari (Redshirt freshman and a former 4-star recruit): See above. Ojulari is one of the top candidates for the team MVP on defense so far in 2019.
  • No. 2: WR George Pickens  (former 5-star recruit): Pickens had just one catch for four yards against Florida, but he affected the game in other ways. He is a tenacious and vigilant blocker and he draws coverage his way as well. He is second on the team in catches (24) and yards (322) so far in 2019.
  • No. 3: OLB Nolan Smith (former 5-star recruit): Smith continues to take the field on third down in the “Nickel” and “Dime” packages for the Bulldogs. His combination of power and speed rushes make him an all-around pass rusher. He finished with one tackle against Florida. He now has nine tackles, 1.5 sacks and 1.5 tackles for losses in 2019. His 10 QB hurries are the third-best total on the team.
  • No. 4: ILB Nakobe Dean (former 5-star recruit): Dean is starting to find his stride. He’s healthy and is starting to get his legs underneath him as a true freshman ILB in the SEC. He now has 13 tackles on the year, but eight of those have come in his last two games.
  • No. 5: WR Dominick Blaylock (former 4-star recruit): Blaylock scored his third TD of the season against Florida and also added a seven-yard punt return. He is now clearly the team’s primary punt returner.
  • No.6: DT Travon Walker (former 5-star recruit): As stated up above, the Georgia defensive line simply has more potential for “havoc” when he’s on the field. He has seven tackles and a half-sack so far in 2019.

OTHERS TO MAKE THE HEAT CHECK THIS FALL: Redshirt freshman RB Zamir White; Redshirt freshman DB Divaad Wilson

Georgia football: FRESHMEN ON SOCIAL MEDIA

FRESHMEN TO PLAY IN EVERY GAME

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
  • ILB Trezmen Marshall
  • Redshirt OLB Azeez Ojulari
  • WR George Pickens
  • CB Tyrique Stevenson
  • OLB Nolan Smith
  • Redshirt walk-on LS Payne Walker
  • Redshirt DB Divaad Wilson

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): 3 games
  • WR Dominick Blaylock: 7 games
  • WR Lawrence Cager (grad transfer senior): 7 games
  • S Lewis Cine: 8 games
  • CB D.J. Daniel (junior college transfer): 7 games
  • ILB Rian Davis: 1 game
  • ILB Nakobe Dean: 8 games
  • TE Ryland Goede: 2 games
  • OLB Jermaine Johnson (junior college transfer): 8 games
  • DL Zion Logue: 2 games
  • ILB Trezmen Marshall: 8 games (special teams)
  • QB D’Wan Mathis: 0 games
  • OL Warren McClendon: 1 game
  • RB Kenny McIntosh: 6 games
  • DL Tymon Mitchell: 2 games
  • DL Bill Norton: 2 games
  • WR George Pickens: 8 games
  • TE Brett Seither: 2 games
  • OLB Nolan Smith: 8 games
  • CB Tyrique Stevenson: 8 games
  • WR Makiya Tongue: 2 games
  • OL Xavier Truss: 2 games
  • DT Travon Walker: 6 games
  • DL Tramel Walthour: 0 games
  • OL Clay Webb: 1 game
  • TE Eli Wolf (grad transfer senior): 8 games

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


Georgia football: 2019 Freshman Reports on DawgNation