When you recruit as well as Georgia has under Kirby Smart, you’re bound to have freshmen who emerge early in their careers. Consider last season, where Brock Bowers became one of the top pass catchers in the country. Or Adonai Mitchell, who made one of the biggest plays in Georgia’s National Championship win over Alabama.
The Bulldogs once again signed a loaded recruiting class for the 2022 recruiting cycle. Georgia landed 11 of the top-100 recruits and five 5-star prospects in the cycle. All five of those prospects are on the defensive side of the ball.
Georgia has to replace a number of key contributors from its dominant 2021 defensive unit. While Smart will do his best to temper expectations for the group, two Bulldogs have already been earmarked as freshmen the national media cannot wait to see take the field..
In an ESPN roundtable, edge rusher Marvin Jones Jr. and defensive linemen Mykel Williams earned praise and were singled out for the possible immediate impact they could make.
“I have high expectations for him because Georgia clearly knows how to pick ‘em,” ESPN’s Harry Lyles Jr. said of Williams. “The attrition on the defensive line will open up opportunities for Williams to contribute immediately, and given all the talent that will still be around him, it’s exciting to see how that affects his play.”
Related: Mykel Williams: 3 things to know about Georgia football’s 2022 5-star defensive line signee
Williams was the highest-rated signee in Georgia’s 2022 recruiting class, coming in as the No. 4 overall prospect. Early on Williams has drawn comparisons to Travon Walker, who himself was a 5-star signee in the 2019 signing class before emerging as an instant contributor at Georgia. Walker is now frequently projected as a top-10 pick for the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft.
Helping Williams is that he is already on campus ahead and set to go through spring practice next week. Georgia signed 19 early enrollees in this class, which is believed to be the most of any school in the country.
“We’ve got 19 midyear enrollees who’ve been very impactful in adding depth to our roster,” Smart said. “As they begin to work out and go through our academics, our equipment staff, our nutrition staff, our player development staff, everybody has commented about this group. How serious they are, how well-mannered they are, and how they handle their business. That’s always good to know that you’ve got the right kind of kids in your organization.”
Jones Jr. is set to arrive this summer but will do so with equal amounts of hype. Georgia beat out Alabama, Florida State and others to land the talented pass rusher, whose father is College Football Hall of Famer Marvin Jones of Florida State.
“Marvin Jones Jr. is an absolute terror as an edge rusher,” ESPN’s Chris Low wrote. “And, yes, the rest of college football is probably collectively groaning: Just what Georgia needs, another dynamic player in its front-seven on defense.”
Related: Marvin Jones Jr: The 5-star signee that got Kirby Smart to sing karaoke on his official
Jones Jr. doesn’t have quite as clear a path to playing time as Nolan Smith and Robert Beal both elected to return for their senior seasons. Jones will compete with MJ Sherman, Chaz Chambliss and fellow 2022 signees Darris Smith and CJ Madden for snaps.
Three other freshmen who might be worth watching include safety Malaki Starks, cornerback Daylen Everette and tight end Oscar Delp. Georgia’s secondary is once again thin from a numbers standpoint, especially at cornerback where Everette is one of four scholarship cornerbacks on the roster this spring.
As for Delp, Bowers is out this spring with a shoulder injury. He’ll have an opportunity to learn and earn reps early at Georgia, much as Bowers did last season.
Georgia starts spring practice on Tuesday and concludes the spring on April 16 with the G-Day scrimmage. That will be the first chance the public gets at seeing Georgia’s talented 2022 signees in Sanford Stadium.
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