Mykel Williams, Dillon Bell among Georgia football freshmen making noticeable impact in first home game

091022 Athens: Georgia defensive lineman Mykel Williams (left) celebrates his sack of Samford quarterback Quincy Crittendon for a loss with linebacker Thomas Neville during the fourth quarter in a NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, in Athens. “Curtis Compton / Curtis

ATHENS — It was a day of firsts for many members of the 2022 Georgia football signing class. And if they continue to play as they did on Saturday, it should keep Georgia football atop college football for the foreseeable future.

Dillon Bell hauled in his first career touchdown pass. Mykel Williams notched his and Georgia’s first sack of the year. Safety Malaki Starks earned his first career start, joining Brett Thorson and Williams as freshman starters to this point.

Related: Kirby Smart provides good news on the status of wide receiver Adonai Mitchell

“It shows him that he can do it here. We all know that he can and that he’s a special talent,” Bennett said. “You got to come in and work. When you’re not the guy, you gotta keep working and when you get your shot you gotta do it and I think he did that today.”

Games like Samford are designed to get players like Williams, Starks and Bell opportunities to get on the field. They were far from the only freshmen to make an impact but those three have separated themselves to this point.

Part of that can largely be chalked up to the depth situation at those respective positions. A not insignificant reason they’ve been able to get on the field so fast is that they don’t have players such as Brock Bowers or Broderick Jones in front of them.

Smart knows that as exciting as the early progress is for the members of the 2022 signing class, they are still in fact freshmen. They’re raw and they’re still going to make mistakes, even if they sprinkle in a few impressive plays in between.

“It’s a great opportunity for them,” Smart said. “What they usually realize is that they’re not ready. When you turn the tape on, they usually watch it and can’t believe that they did what they did. There’s a certain number of snaps that every freshman has to take before they can execute at a high level. We’re just trying to speed that process up.”

The 2022 signing class was the No. 3 ranked class for the entire cycle. It’s clear the Bulldogs have found some gems, as they always seem to do.

Whether or not Bell, Williams and Starks can sustain their current play is what will separate them as the season drags on. Bowers and Mitchell did a season ago, scoring touchdowns in the national championship game.

We’re still a long way from seeing this current group of freshmen reach that point. But before scoring against Alabama, those players had to take baby steps against the likes of UAB and Charleston Southern. The hope is that Williams, Bell and Starks made those same strides on Saturday against Samford.

Nolan Smith excited about Mykel Williams’ first sack

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