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The Georgia Bulldogs have plenty to prove this season, and that goes for both the team itself as well as plenty of the players, including inside linebacker Natrez Patrick.

Which Georgia Bulldogs have most to prove in 2018?

Cy Brown

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Prove it

The Georgia Bulldogs have a lot to prove this season. As the defending SEC champions and the clear favorites to repeat in a weak SEC East, the Dawgs are out to prove that a dominant UGA is the new normal in college football. There’s also the little matter of proving they can win a national title.

To that end, there are plenty of Dawgs who enter the 218 season with something to prove to their doubters and haters. Here are five of note:

  • Mecole Hardman, WR — Hardman established himself as one of the best receivers in Georgia’s offense last season, his first playing the position. He was also an All-SEC second-team return man, despite not returning a kickoff or punt for a touchdown. Getting a couple of those will be among his top priorities in 2018.
  • Natrez Patrick, ILB — Last year, Patrick had a season to remember for all the wrong reasons. When he was on the field, he was one of the best players on the defense. The problem was that a couple of arrests kept him off the field for six games. If he can make it through this season with no off-field slip-ups, he could be the best player on Georgia’s defense — and be in the NFL a year from now.
  • Isaac Nauta, TE — Everyone expected big things from Nauta last season after his stellar freshman campaign, but Georgia stopped throwing to tight ends and his production dropped from 29 catches for 361 yards in Year 1 to 9 catches for 114 yards in Year 2. By hook or by crook, Nauta, offensive coordinator Jim Chaney or both need to find a way to get him more involved in the passing game. He’s too talented to only touch the ball nine times in a season.
  • Richard LeCounte, DB — LeCounte was the leader and driving force behind the outstanding 2017 recruiting class, and he segued that into a strong freshman season as a backup special teams contributor. But Kirby Smart rode him hard this spring, probably because he knows just how good LeCounte can be and that he can handle the pressure. LeCounte excelled on G-Day, but there’s a big difference between the spring game and the regular season. He’s projected to start at safety, and if he lives up to his potential, he could be the leader of a new and more talented generation of Dawgs defensive backs..
  • Solomon Kindley, OL — Kindley started 10 games at right guard last season, but a poor showing in the loss to Auburn cost him his place in the lineup. Ben Cleveland took the job and never let it go. Now Kindley is behind Cleveland, Kendall Baker and potentially a pair of uber-talented freshmen, Trey Hill and Jamaree Salyer. He’ll have a steep hill to climb to earn back a spot on an offensive line that’s getting more talented by the year.

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UGA scores 2 big-time commitments

Georgia football received two major, out-of-state commitments from the Class of 2019 last weekend, and at two key offensive positions — quarterback and tackle.

First up is quarterback John Rhys Plumlee out of Hattiesburg (Miss.) Oak Grove High, who announced his pledge on Friday. Plumlee (6-foot-1, 185 pounds) is an athletic quarterback more in the vein of Justin Fields than Jake Fromm. He’s also a two-sport star and plans to play both baseball and football for the Bulldogs. Both 247Sports and Rivals rate Plumlee a 3-star player, but ESPN rates him a 4-star prospect and ranks him the No. 9 dual-threat passer in his class. The Dawgs just got a lot more athletic — and deeper — behind center.

The Dawgs doubled up on the good news Sunday with the commitment of 4-star tackle Xavier Truss from Bishop Hendricken in Warwick, R.I. At 6-foot-7 and 350 pounds, he’ll step onto campus next year as one of the largest players on the team and continue Georgia’s streak of bringing in mammoth linemen. Truss is ranked the No. 102 overall player in the 247Sports 2019 composite.

Odds & Ends

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