Georgia football G-Day freshmen report: Red 28, Black 23

Adonai Mitchell-Georgia football-UGA football
True freshman WR Adonai Mitchell was one of the impact players at G-Day.

DawgNation will offer this report after every 2021 game which focuses on the freshmen who played and what they did.  It will just be radically different for this fall. The definition of freshmen can cover many things. Check out the Georgia football edition from the Red team’s steak and lobster win against the Black beanie weenie team. 

The seasonal DawgNation “Freshmen Report” will roll up its sleeves in 2021. The amount of player tracking required will call for a weight belt to carry it all over to this page.

It might even require some pre-workout fuel because of an NCAA ruling last season to regard 2020 participation as a bonus year.

That’s because so many players and programs were affected by the global pandemic that it changes the scope of this DawgNation feature. A new method of player eligibility tracking is required to survey the range of possibilities for what could be considered a player in their freshman season in 2021.

It could be:

  • A 2020 signee who played in zero to 13 games last fall. That relatively new staple of four games or less equals a redshirt year no longer applies to any Bulldog who saw any action in 2020. 
  • A traditional 2021 signee
  • A 2019 signee who redshirted in the fall of 2019 and was classified for 2020 prior to the pandemic as a redshirt freshman for the 2020 season. 
  • To be as accurate as possible, none of these players will be regarded as such on the online rosters, media guides or televised broadcasts. That “bonus” year will only kick in when a student-athlete has maximized their college eligibility.
  • Given the talent level of Georgia’s roster, it doesn’t seem likely in that scenario that a major contributor for the program would not want to test the NFL to return for another college season. 

In short, this broader definition for “freshman” could now apply: Any player who is eligible to play a minimum of three more seasons in college football AFTER the 2021 season. 

That’s where things get wider than Darnell Washington‘s wingspan here on this topic.

We will open up by looking at the number of starters for the “Red” and “Black” teams from G-Day this past Saturday afternoon.

There were 44 starters across those two split-squad lineups. Of those, we can count up 21 Bulldogs that could be considered as “freshmen” or “redshirt freshmen” or “minimum three more seasons of eligibility” players in college football.

Of those 44 Saturday starters, we see that only five members of the traditional 2021 signing class made that listing. Those were five of the 16 early enrollees from January. True freshman WR Adonai Mitchell was the only Bulldog who cracked the first-team group from the 2021 class.

CB Jalen Kimber, who was a midyear enrollee in the 2020 cycle, was the only second-year Bulldog who made the starting group. If necessary, he will have a “bonus” year in his back pocket for his NCAA career. That’s not likely. Kimber is at worst the second-most game-ready cornerback option on this roster.

What does that mean? It means the Bulldog starting units are flush with mature and experienced players. That’s what any national championship aspirant program should look like.

Does data like that intrigue? If so, then the DawgNation “Freshman Report” is filed in the days after each game to meet that level of reader interest.

Brock Bowers-Georgia football-UGA recruiting” width=”4264″ height=”2843″ /> True freshman TE Brock Bowers showed a lot of potential at G-Day in his first appearance in a Georgia uniform. (Tony Walsh/UGAAA)

Georgia football: A few “Freshman Report” data points

Those data points – and the young Georgia football team members who made them – are sought out to move the needle forward on all the elite recruiting classes the program signs.

Do those young players that get hyped up make an impact on the team during their first (or the second first) season?

Here’s a quick jog around the bigger player participation pieces for Georgia from its spring game:

  • Vital 2021 team cogs Adam Anderson and Zamir White are a pair of former 5-sta recruits. They will log major minutes and weekly starts this fall, but they did not start on Saturday. 
  • Georgia saw 12 of its 2021 signees see action on G-Day. That’s even with four 2021 signees still waiting to enroll and report to campus in late May upon high school graduation. 
  • The mid-year enrollees who didn’t play: DL Tyrion Ingram-Dawkins, CB Nyland Green, OL Micah Morris and LB Xavian Sorey, Jr. 
  • Class of 2021 signee Javon Bullard led the Red team in tackles with his seven stops. He also had the touchdown-saving tackle after a 51-yard Carson Beck to Darnell Washington completion.
  • Major Burns, a 2020 safety signee, was second on the Red team with his six tackles. He was followed by former 5-star ILB Smael Mondon (2021 signee) with his five stops. 
  • Walk-on WR Steven Peterson, who was once the go-to receiver for Justin Fields at Harrison High in Cobb County, was the lone non-scholarship Bulldog starter on offense. He had four catches for 60 yards. He’s regarded as a junior on the team roster after spending 2018 on scholarship at Coastal Carolina and 2019 and 2020 at Mercer. 
  • Redshirt sophomore DB Dan Jackson was the lone non-scholarship starter on defense. He was a bright spot all spring practice. Jackson came away with an interception and four tackles. If the Clemson game was this weekend, he would likely be at the top of the mix for a backup safety slot. 

The Bulldogs deployed 97 players on G-Day, including 30 scholarship players who signed in the classes of 2020 or 2021. That’s perhaps the best gauge to measure the relative youth of the team. That is found by taking a look at when these guys graduated from high school and first arrived on a college campus.

Those stated figures were based on DawgNation’s pregame and postgame observations, the TV copy, social media postings and finally the official postgame participation chart.

Who played at G-Day (by classes):

  • 2021 class: 13 (The following figures will also include walk-on Bulldogs)
  • 2020 class: 27
  • 2019 class: 25
  • 2018 class: 22
  • 2017 class: 8
  • 2016: 1 (WR Demetris Robertson)
  • Touchdowns from the 2021 or 2020 classes: 3 (Kendall Milton, Adonai Mitchell and Darnell Washington)
  • Class of 2020 or 2021 signees among the leading tacklers: 5
True freshman ILB Smael Mondon is a former 5-star recruit. He was among the leading G-Day tacklers with his five stops on Saturday. (Tony Walsh/UGAAA)

G-Day freshman focus

We counted 40 Bulldogs that played that either enrolled in 2020 or 2021. The big picture tallies up to 41 percent of all the Bulldogs who played on Saturday.

That equates to:

  •  3 of 5 QBs (The figures presented in this section will include walk-on players)
  • 3 of 6 RBs 
  • 5 of 12 WRs 
  • 11 of 20 OLs 
  • 2 of 7 TEs 
  • 5 of 11 DLs
  • 2 of 11 LBs 
  • 7 of 15 DBs 
  • 0 of 2 PKs 
  • 1 of 2 Ps
  • 0 of 2 LSs 

TRUE FRESHMEN BULLDOGS IN 2021

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. Georgia started out many games in “12” personnel last season or with five DBs on the field.

Here is the list of the true freshmen Bulldog starters for G-Day

  • TE Brock Bowers (Black team – No. 2 offense)
  • OLB Chaz Chambliss (Black team – No. 2 defense)
  • OT Amarius Mims (Black team – No. 2 offense)
  • WR Adonai Mitchell (Red team – No. 1 offense)
  • ILB Smael Mondon (Black team – No. 2 defense)

Freshman Game Ball 

WR Adonai Mitchell

(Cane Ridge HS/Antioch, Tenn.)

Hgt./Wgt: 6-4/190

Adonai Mitchell was this correspondent’s pick for the most impactful player of G-Day this past weekend. (Tony Walsh/UGAAA)

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