On the next play, 2020 running back Kendall Milton scored easily on an eight-yard run. While we didn’t get to see what wide receivers Jermaine Burton, Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint and Arian Smith could do, there’s understandable excitement surrounding what they could potentially bring to the Georgia offense.
But the Georgia team is going to need that future to happen sooner rather than later. Especially after the ACL injury that will sideline George Pickens for the foreseeable future.
Georgia will be led on offense by JT Daniels. If the quarterback keeps playing as he did on G-Day — 324 passing yards and three touchdowns, no interceptions — he’s going to be one the best players in the country.
Daniels has made steps forward this spring and figures to only improve with a more normal offseason while working with offensive coordinator Todd Monken.
“He’s got command of the offense,” Smart said of Daniels. “He’s got to be able to utilize the pocket. We work on that each and every day and I know coach (Todd) Monken is always driving that home with him, his ability to move in the pocket, step up.
But Daniels is going to need players around him to make plays, just as Mac Jones did at Alabama and Joe Burrow did at LSU.
Related: National media praises JT Daniels, still skeptical of Georgia football after spring game
And that is where those five aforementioned 2020 signees will have to take a step forward. Those players have the highest ceiling, and thus potential to be difference-makers.
Washington best displayed that on Saturday. He finished with four receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown. Even on a field littered with 4- and 5-star prospects, Washington is a different level of physical freak.
“He’s going to bring a lot of different matchups with how big he is,” linebacker Quay Walker said of Washington. “Especially with him being able to move like he can move.”
Last season Washington had just seven receptions. But he was only a freshman and one who arrived at a school in the middle of the pandemic. Daniels and Smart have both spoken about how much better of an understanding Washington has this spring of the Georgia offense.
How involved Washington gets will be a curiosity given no tight end has had more than 30 receptions in a season under Smart. But Georgia hasn’t had an athlete like Washington out there who can plow through opposing defenders.
With Milton, the talent has been obvious since he first ran through the Auburn defense. Jordan Rodgers added on the SEC Network broadcast he believes Milton is the most talented running back for Georgia. He finished the game with 34 yards rushing, along with five catches for 31 yards.
Milton’s skillset does overlap a bit with that of Zamir White, who also impressed Smart on G-Day. But Georgia is going to have to find a way to get Milton involved, especially if what Smart has said all spring about the California sophomore continues to be the case.
“I think Kendall has done a really good job with some physical runs,” Smart said. “That’s who he is.”
The wide receivers making a step forward is perhaps the most plausible scenario. Smith missed most of last season with a knee injury. His speed makes an obvious difference-maker for this offense, in the same way Washington’s size does. Even though he didn’t have a reception on Saturday, he was able to get behind the defense on a few occasions.
Burton developed a strong rapport with Daniels this spring, even if he was sidelined with a hyperextended knee. He had the most productive freshman year of any 2020 signee, finishing with 27 catches and 404 yards and three touchdowns. With Pickens out, Burton emerges as a very likely candidate to be Georgia’s No. 1 receiver.
With Rosemy-Jacksaint, he might be the player most likely to step into Pickens’ spot in the lineup at the X position. Rosemy-Jacksaint is still working his way back from a fractured ankle, but Smart provided a positive update on his health towards the end of camp. He also did dress out on Saturday.
The five players mentioned all have plenty of potential. They also have what looks like a strong quarterback in Daniels to help get them the ball.
College football is an offensive-geared sport nowadays. If Georgia’s offense is going to reach that same level that Alabama and LSU did in recent years, it will need its young playmakers to become difference makers in the 2021 season.
Connor in Coverage: The Georgia offense will go as far as the 2020 signees take them
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