Georgia football-Jamie Newman-title hopes
Kirby Smart will have to find a starting quarterback.

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.

Related: Smart ‘we don’t really know what we have’ at quarterback

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.”

Related: What social media is saying after UGA QB Jamie Newman opts out of 2020 season

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.

Related: Zamir White vows to uphold ‘RBU’ legacy for UGA this season

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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