What Jamie Newman’s decision means for Georgia’s 2020 national title hopes
The Jamie Newman hype all offseason was always a bit befuddling. He’d been mentioned as Heisman Trophy favorite, a possible first-round pick and one of the main reasons Georgia was set to possibly contend for a national title.
Now, he won’t be playing a down for the Georgia Bulldogs, as the quarterback announced on Wednesday that he’ll be opting out of the 2020 season to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft.
“With much prayer and discussion with my family, I would like to announce that due to the uncertainties of this year amid a global pandemic I will officially opt-out of this football season to prepare for the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft,” Newman said of his decision.
Hello Newman, goodbye Newman, the Seinfeld fans are saying.
Newman leaves Georgia less than eight months after transferring in from Wake Forest. A season ago, he threw for 26 touchdowns while rushing for 574 yards and an additional 6 rushing touchdowns. The thought was that with more talent around him and working with new offensive coordinator Todd Monken, many of the offensive issues Georgia had in 2019 would be resolved.
Now just over three weeks from the start of the 2020 season, Georgia’s quarterback room enters even more uncertainty. The Bulldogs have options between JT Daniels, D’Wan Mathis, Carson Beck and Stetson Bennett, but none as strong as an option as Newman.
Newman’s decision stunned many in the college football world. Perhaps it shouldn’t have considering LSU star wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase opt-ed out just days prior. It’s also worth mentioning that Newman’s former Wake Forest teammate, receiver Sage Surratt also opted to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft instead of play a truncated 2020 college football season.
In part because of Newman, Georgia was one of the top-ranked teams in the country when the initial Coaches and AP Polls came out. The Bulldogs debuted at No. 4 in both, and given Ohio State won’t be playing this fall, the Bulldogs will move up once the season officially begins on Sept. 26.
For all of the potential Newman brought to the Georgia offense, it was still only just that, potential. He’d played in exactly one scrimmage in his time at Georgia. Based on what Kirby Smart said following that first scrimmage, it didn’t sound like Newman was the next Joe Burrow or Cam Newton.
“I’m really proud and happy we were able to scrimmage, but just looking at the scrimmage as a whole— we have a long way to go,” Smart said. “We looked like a team that didn’t go through spring practice. We looked like a team that is young at a lot of positions. We were really sloppy, to be honest with you.”
All of that was going to still be true and hold merit even if Newman was still the team’s starting quarterback. The Bulldogs still have major question marks at the wide receiver position, especially now that Dominick Blaylock will miss the 2020 season.
The Bulldogs still must replace D’Andre Swift at running back, even though the early word about Zamir White and James Cook has been positive to this point of fall camp. Georgia still must replace two first-round offensive tackles, though it seems Jamaree Salyer and Owen Condon seem like the potential replacements at left and right tackle.
The strength of Georgia’s team still figures to be its defense. The Bulldogs had one of the best in the country last season and given the number of contributors returning for this season, it’s easy to see why so many Georgia defenders have talked about the group might be improved in 2020.
“We come in and are just making sure we are working on ourselves and the things we aren’t great at, so basically our weaknesses and stuff like that,” Georgia defensive back Mark Webb said. “I feel like every DB has made a big jump from where he was last year.”
Many have made the comparison between Georgia and the 2019 LSU team. Prior to passing-game coordinator Joe Brady’s arrival and Burrow’s ascendance, the Tigers for years had been inept on the offensive side of the ball. Then they went out and broke just about every SEC offensive record. Given the turnover Georgia saw on offense this offseason, it’s easy to see why some had that line of thinking.
Georgia may have just lost its potential Burrow in Newman. ESPN analyst and former Georgia star David Pollack seem to think so, as he shared that Georgia was going to be his title favorite with Newman.
With Jamie Newman as Georgia’s QB I was going to pick them to win the Natty. Now? Back to Bama/Clemson
— David Pollack (@davidpollack47) September 2, 2020
But it may still have its Brady this season in Monken. He’s had success at the college level along with coordinating prolific offenses with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cleveland Browns. He’ll have to now tailor his potential offense to a quarterback other than Newman but he’s had the same amount number of practices —12 to this date — with Daniels and Mathis that he did with Newman.
Georgia does have a tricky start to the season, with its toughest games all coming in the first seven weeks. After opening with Arkansas, the Bulldogs play Auburn, Tennessee, Alabama in successive weeks. The Bulldogs were likely going to rely on their defense to win those games, and must now likely do so to an even higher degree.
The timing of this all does hurt Georgia. And if things don’t go well for the Bulldogs this season, it wouldn’t be a surprise if some Georgia fans regard Newman as highly as Jerry Seinfeld did whenever he encountered the character on the show.
Newman, the quarterback, was still going to have to answer many questions of his own this coming season with Georgia. Now he’ll have to explain his decision to NFL decision-makers. Georgia still has to solve those test questions when it comes to this season. And even though it won’t have Newman, it does still have many of the things that made it a top-5 team in the country to start this bizarro 2020 season.
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