Why Georgia’s player representatives’ words carry more weight at 2019 SEC Media Days
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Georgia football will address the media this week’s as Kirby Smart’s team at SEC Media Days
For the first time at SEC Media Days, all three Georgia representatives addressing the media will do so as players who joined the Georgia football program after Kirby Smart took over as the head coach in December of 2015.
A season ago, safety J.R. Reed spoke at media days along with defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter and Terry Godwin. Reed will speak again on Tuesday, and he will be joined by offensive tackle Andrew Thomas and quarterback Jake Fromm.
All three players committed to Smart’s program before he even coached his first game at Georgia. Fromm flipped his commitment from Alabama to Georgia in March of 2016. Reed transferred in from Tulsa in June of that same year. Thomas committed to Georgia the next month.
Fromm, Reed and Thomas have been foundational pieces of the Smart era. In each of the last two seasons, the trio has started a combined 85 games for the Bulldogs. To this point, only Thomas has earned All-SEC, but there’s a good chance that changes this week.
A season ago Georgia was one of the best defensive units in the country in preventing big plays. Reed is a big reason why, as he served as a last line of defense in the pass and against the run. He racked 66 tackles a season ago while also having 2 interceptions.
“(Reed) is a great leader. He’s very communicative in that secondary,” Smart said about Reed earlier this spring. “He’s the alpha of that secondary. He says this is what we’re doing. He takes over. He demands guys take notes in the meeting. He is what you want.”
Under offensive line coach Sam Pittman, Georgia has put together some dominant offensive lines. And there’s arguably been no better player to play for Pittman than Thomas. He started every game as a freshman at right tackle and then started 13 out of 14 games at left tackle as a sophomore.
He was voted First Team All-SEC by the coaches last season and has been tabbed by many as someone who could be the first offensive tackle taken in the 2020 NFL Draft.
As for Fromm, perhaps no player has encapsulated Georgia football under Smart than the junior quarterback. He hasn’t put up the gaudiest number or looked super flashy, but he’s won a ton of games. He’s 23-5 as a starter and has yet to lose a game against an SEC East team. He’s had his fair share of hiccups, but Georgia hasn’t lost any game solely because of his play.
Fromm will get a number of questions relating to topics like Justin Fields, replacing his top-five pass catchers from a season ago and about possibly beating Alabama. He’ll answer all those questions and do well in doing so. There’s a reason he’s become the face of the Georgia football program.
When asked previously about the turnover at wide receiver, Fromm has stated that he’s going to do more this season. That will likely be a common theme among all three players’ answers this week.
“For me, it’s about getting the guys around me better. Getting them as knowledgeable about the offense as I am,” Fromm said. “Being able to switch things up and change based on what the defense shows.”
Each of the three players should be seen as leaders of the Georgia program. And for the first time, all three of Georgia’s representatives will do so as guys who bought into Smart’s program at the University of Georgia. That should make what they have to say about the team and program more powerful in Hoover, Ala., this week.
Nolan Smith already getting tabbed as a potential future top draft pick
The NFL draft cycle never seems to end. Despite having not played an actual a game in months, there’s been plenty written on the likes of Fromm, Thomas and countless other prospects. But now there’s a draft prediction on a player who has yet to play a down of college football.
ESPN put together a list of players to watch for the 2021, 2022 and 2023 NFL Drafts. The 2021 prospects are going into their sophomore seasons. The 2022 prospects and 2023 prospects have yet to play a game at the college level. Nevertheless, one Georgia player has already been mentioned as a top draft pick in one of those possible drafts.
Nolan Smith — who was the No. 1 overall prospect in the 2019 recruiting class — is already being eyed as a possible first-round pick come the 2022 NFL Draft.
“Smith can do a little bit of everything on defense, whether it’s lining up at defensive end or at linebacker. He is an outside linebacker in Georgia’s defense, which means he’ll get the chance to rush off the edge and display his athleticism,” ESPN’s Tom VanHaaren wrote. “If Smith has the kind of success most scouts think he can have, he likely will find himself sitting in the green room at a future NFL draft.”
Smith made a strong first impression on Georgia coaches this spring, as he was able to work his way into the first-team defense for Georgia’s G-Day game. He’ll have an opportunity to make a big impact as a freshman, as Georgia needs a lot of production out of its outside linebackers. The Bulldogs also have to replace D’Andre Walker, who led the team with 7.5 sacks a season ago.
NFL scouts will get their first chance to see how Smith looks this year on Aug. 31 when the Bulldogs take on the Vanderbilt Commodores.
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- Andrew Thomas asked about his looming NFL decision
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- Adam Anderson’s spirit at practice: ‘Screaming like he’s at an amusement park’
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