The Georgia football players with most to gain at each position this spring
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Broderick Jones, Kelee Ringo among the players with the most to gain at each position
Quarterback: Carson Beck
JT Daniels is entrenched as the starter for Georgia. Stetson Bennett is what he is at this point. Brock Vandagriff’s status is unknown due in part to a knee injury he suffered during his senior season in high school.
This spring represents a big opportunity for Beck. His first spring practice was wiped away due to the pandemic. He spent much of the 2020 season in the background of Georgia’s chaotic quarterback battle. He only took competitive snaps against Missouri and didn’t throw a pass.
Beck likely won’t beat out Daniels this spring. But that doesn’t mean the redshirt freshman has nothing to prove or play for this spring. Quite the opposite. Beck and Vandagriff figure to play big roles in Georgia’s next quarterback battle, likely taking place prior to the 2022 season.
If the redshirt freshman continues to show and flash what he did last fall, it will be another positive step in his development. A strong spring and G-Day performance would serve as an excellent reminder that Beck will be a factor in determining Georgia’s future starting quarterback.
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Running back: Kendall Milton
Georgia brings back all five running backs from the 2020 team. It also adds 4-star running back Lovasea Carroll. Carries and touches figure to come at a premium this spring.
Milton might be the most gifted runner of the group. He showed real potential early on as a freshman prior to being sidelined due to a knee injury. He rushed for 251 yards on 47 carries as a freshman.
If Milton is going to get on the field more in 2021, he can really help by improving his game when he isn’t being handed. Areas like pass-blocking and catching the ball out of the backfield. The things that running backs who can play every-down thrive at.
Georgia likely won’t have a Najee Harris-type running back on its roster. The running back room is too deep for that. But if Milton continues to improve, especially in areas outside of running the ball, he has the possibility to earn a bigger role in the Georgia offense this fall. And maybe a year from now we see Milton as that Harris-type running back.
Wide receiver: Arian Smith
This position has quickly gone from a weakness to a strength. The development of Kearis Jackson and the 2019 and 2020 signing classes have gone a long way in helping the position.
You could pick a number of options here as far as which receiver. Maybe you want to see the George Pickens-Daniels connection continue to improve. Or Jermaine Burton takes that next step. The health of Dominick Blaylock and Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint will be worth monitoring as well.
For us, we’re going with Smith. We’ve written before about how the Bulldogs don’t have another receiver like him and how his speed can be a game-changer. He spent most of the 2020 season battling injury before getting healthy over the final three games.
This spring will allow Smith to be further integrated into Todd Monken’s offense. Smith might not be the most targeted receiver in the Georgia offense, but his presence could open things up for not just other wide receivers but the entire offense.
Tight end: Brock Bowers
Darnell Washington could also work here. We saw that he was really only just scratching the surface at the end of his freshman season.
With Bowers, he’ll get a chance to do something he didn’t last fall as a high school senior. Play football.
The state of California suspended high school football this fall, meaning Bowers didn’t get to suit up as a high school senior. He did end up enrolling early at Georgia and will go through spring drills with the Bulldogs.
This will be his first time back on the field and a chance for Bowers to showcase his athleticism. While Washington and John FitzPatrick have size, neither can match what Bowers brings from a speed and quickness standpoint. Much like Smith, Bowers is a one-of-one in Georgia’s offense.
Offensive line: Broderick Jones
Aside from Jamaree Salyer, Warren McClendon and probably Justin Shaffer, you could say any offensive lineman. Warren Ericson and Sedrick Van Pran figure to battle for the starting center spot. Tate Ratledge and Clay Webb will push to start at one of the guard spots.
We wrote recently about the left tackle spot and why it is so crucial for Georgia’s championship hunt. Jones, Xavier Truss and possibly freshman Amarius Mims will compete for the left tackle spot.
Truss got the start at left tackle in the win over Cincinnati, but he didn’t make the best of first impressions. Jones himself showed why it’s so difficult for a freshman like Mims to start on the offensive line right away.
Jones didn’t have much of an impact on the 2020 team. With a full season under his belt, Jones seems better positioned to take the left tackle job than he did a season ago due in large part to the physical gains he has made.
Georgia’s left tackle battle will likely continue into August. A strong spring from Jones though could go a long way in ensuring that Jones will be protecting Daniels’ blindside in the first game against Clemson.
Defensive line: Jalen Carter
Georgia’s defensive line should be one of the best in the nation, led by senior Jordan Davis. The Bulldogs also bring back seniors Julian Rochester and Devonte Wyatt.
Travon Walker seems primed to take over for Malik Herring and we’ve already seen what he can do in a limited role.
At defensive tackle, Carter seems to be following a similar track to that of Walker. As a freshman, Carter made a few splashy plays and showed why he was a 5-star recruit.
As a sophomore, Carter won’t be handed playing time with some of the depth in front of him. He’ll have to continue to improve in order to continue to fulfill some of his promise he showed last season. A strong spring though should only continue to help his development.
Outside linebacker: Nolan Smith
Azeez Ojulari and Jermaine Johnson are both gone. MJ Sherman is rehabbing a shoulder injury that is expected to keep him out. That really only leaves a few options at the outside linebacker spot.
Smith offers the best chance to replace what Ojulari brought as a run defender. Adam Anderson should help a lot with the pass rush as he picked up 6.5 sacks last season and with more playing time he should only improve on those numbers.
Smith and Ojulari do have some physical similarities and coaches constantly rave about Smith’s effort level. With Ojulari no longer blocking his path to playing time, Smith has a chance to better deliver on some of the 5-star hype he entered college with.
Inside linebacker: Channing Tindall
Monty Rice is off to the NFL. Dean is recovering from surgery and likely won’t be a full go for spring practice.
The Bulldogs do bring back a number of highly recruited players at the position such as Quay Walker, Rian Davis and Smael Mondon.
But our pick is Tindall. He flashed in 2020, especially as a designated pass rusher picking up 3.0 sacks. With no Dean and Rice, he’ll have a chance to show what he can do as an every-down player for the Bulldogs.
Tindall might not be able to unseat Walker as the starter alongside Dean, but the senior can certainly prove he’s a capable defender for the Bulldogs.
Secondary: Kelee Ringo
Cornerback will be a position that is frequently discussed all offseason. Georgia has two vacancies to fill with Eric Stokes and Tyson Campbell both off to the NFL. Add in the departures of DJ Daniel and Tyrique Stevenson and the Bulldogs are essentially starting over.
The team and new defensive backs coach Jahmile Addae have a number of young and talented options to turn to, as well as the looming possibility of adding a player through the transfer portal.
But no name looms larger at the cornerback spot than Ringo. He signed with Georgia as the No. 1 overall cornerback prospect in the 2020 signing class. He has both the size and speed that teams covet to play the position.
Ringo didn’t get a chance to see the field in 2020 due to preseason labrum surgery. We’ll get our first chance to see what all the hype was about with Ringo this spring and the Bulldogs need him to play well to answer some of the questions in the secondary.
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