Even with Brock Vandagriff commitment, ESPN down on future of UGA quarterback position
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ESPN skeptical about future of Georgia football quarterback position
In the days after Jake Fromm announced he was headed to the NFL and ended his Georgia career, the Bulldogs and Kirby Smart did about as well as you can in replacing Fromm for both the present and the future.
First, the Bulldogs brought in graduate transfer Jamie Newman. He was seen as one of the top options on the transfer market and figures to help stabilize the position for the 2020 season. Some have even pegged him as a possible Heisman Trophy candidate.
Then later in the month of January, the Bulldogs landed their quarterback of the future in 2021 quarterback prospect Brock Vandagriff. He is rated as a 5-star prospect in the 2021 cycle and the No. 12 overall prospect for the class.
Factor in Stetson Bennett, D’Wan Mathis and early enrollee Carson Beck as well and the Bulldogs have talent and options going forward.
But according to ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, the future of the quarterback position isn’t as bright or rosy as you might think. The ESPN writer ranked the top 25 quarterback situations of the future, and the Bulldogs are behind some of the other elite teams.
Rittenberg put the Bulldogs at No. 11, behind the likes of Florida, Notre Dame and Oklahoma State.
When Rittenberg first began this series back in 2018, the Bulldogs came in at No. 1. At the time the Bulldogs were expected to have multiple years of Fromm and Justin Fields. But the latter transferred out shortly after his freshman season.
Last year the Bulldogs came in at No. 4 in these rankings, due in part to Fromm coming back and off a 30-touchdown season. But Fromm and the offense regressed with Fromm then departing for the NFL draft.
Saying all this though, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see Georgia move up when these rankings come out next season.
A big possible reason for that could be the work of Newman and new offensive coordinator Todd Monken. If those two are able to turnaround a stagnant offense it will go along way in setting up a more promising future for the Georgia offense.
Newman might only have one season at Georgia, but if he and Monken can click after just one offseason together, imagine what might be possible should Monken get more time to mold and work with the likes of Bennett, Mathis and Beck.
Beck — who is already on campus — does possess some intriguing attributes, most notably a cannon arm and a very sharp mind. He boasted to former Georgia quarterback DJ Shockley that he hasn’t struggled with the transition to the college level.
“Coming in early definitely helped a lot, and just learning the speed of the game,” Beck said. “ I ran like scout team, because the ones and twos got reps for the bowl game, but I ran scout team. Getting to play against Georgia’s No. 1 defense, one of the best defenses in the country, and getting to practice against them every single day, that helped me immensely.
“I feel like it will set me up to have an even better start in the spring.”
As for the 2021 job, Beck will go head-to-head with Vandagriff who will be enrolling early next January. When he arrives on campus there will be many expecting him to be the day one starter given his pedigree. But the history of quarterbacks starting from the jump isn’t great.
Trevor Lawrence didn’t do it. Neither did Deshaun Watson. Tua Tagovailoa didn’t start a single game his freshman season. Even Justin Herbet, who walked into a dumpster fire at Oregon, had to sit some in his first season. So just because you come in with a high ranking, doesn’t mean you’ll start game one, especially at a place as elite as Georgia.
But that doesn’t make it impossible. Just the past year we saw North Carolina start freshman Sam Howell in its first game of the season. He was a highly-recruited quarterback in the 2019 recruiting class and Mack Brown thought it was best to make him the guy. He was a big reason North Carolina went from a two-win team to a seven-win team.
Howell is also a big reason why North Carolina is ahead of Georgia on Rittenberg’s list. The Tar Heels came at No. 9.
Of course, Rittenberg’s rankings aren’t a predictive measure of success. For as much as is made about the quarterback position, Clemson and LSU also had other elite aspects in 2019. And Rittenberg didn’t even include LSU in his 2019 rankings even with Joe Burrow returning. He then threw for 60 touchdowns and won every major award last year.
The future of Georgia’s quarterback position will hinge greatly on the success Newman has this year. If things go well, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Georgia move up. Oklahoma came in at No. 5, even though it has to replace Jalen Hurts.
But from a depth and recruiting standpoint, Georgia is going to have options come 2021. And if you’re one of those who are already inquiring about who Georgia might target in the 2022 cycle, I suggest you check what Jeff Sentell wrote about the No. 1 quarterback for the class in Georgia native Gunner Stockton.
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- Scott Cochran: State championship coaches from Alabama discuss what he will bring to UGA
- The NFL combine shows one area where Georgia football is still lacking
- ESPN makes surprising choice for Georgia football’s biggest ‘obstacle’ on 2020 schedule
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