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Georgia football players with the most to gain during spring practice
Spring football is set to begin this week for the Georgia Bulldogs. For some, like quarterback Jake Fromm or safety JR Reed, the goal is just to make it through the 15 practices without picking up an injury and get better. But for others, this spring practice will go a long way in determining how often some players get on the field come this fall.
So with that in mind, below are just some of the names we think could really help themselves with a strong spring practice:
John FitzPatrick, redshirt freshman tight end
Tight end might be Georgia’s most glaring hole on the roster. While the Bulldogs do have one proven option in senior Charlie Woerner, he’s the only tight end on the roster with more than 10 career catches. That’s why FitzPatrick has a chance to show he can be a reliable second tight end for Georgia this spring and beyond.
FitzPatrick figures to get plenty of reps this spring, given the lack of depth at tight end. Georgia did have 4-star freshman Ryland Goede enroll early, but he’s coming off an ACL injury and won’t be 100 percent for spring ball. Eli Wolf, a tight end who transferred from Tennessee, won’t arrive until this summer. FiztPatrick redshirted his first year at Georgia after being a 3-star recruit coming out of The Marist School in Atlanta.
A big spring from FitzPatrick could lead to plenty of playing time this fall. It would also alleviate some of the concerns about the tight end position, which is now being led by new tight ends coach Todd Hartley.
Demetris Robertson, junior wide receiver
You could really pick any wide receiver not named Jeremiah Holloman here. Georgia lost three of its top four wide receivers from the 2018 team, meaning there are a lot of catches to be had.
And Georgia isn’t lacking for names at the position, given it’ll bring back the likes of Tyler Simmons, Kearis Jackson, Tommy Bush and Matt Landers. But we think Robertson might have a real opportunity to standout amongst Georgia’s wide receivers.
Robertson’s first year with Georgia didn’t go as planned, as the former 5-star recruit did not record a single catch. Robertson didn’t arrive at Georgia until late in the summer and it wasn’t even clear if he’d be eligible to play in 2018 until mid-August. Now with a full offseason with the program, Robertson is someone who could really shine this spring if he can put everything together.
And it would really benefit Robertson, and all of the Georgia wide receivers, to play and practice well this spring. Georgia is bringing in quite a bit of receiving talent over the summer, as George Pickens, Dominick Blaylock and Makiya Tongue will all be enrolling. Pickens and Blaylock were top-40 national recruits for the 2019 class, while Tongue was also a highly touted 4-star prospect.
Trey Hill, sophomore center
Georgia must replace center Lamont Gaillard. It’s the only opening on the offensive line this spring, as Georgia brings back a number of offensive linemen with starting experience.
Hill has a chance to cement his starting spot at center with a strong spring practice. When Gaillard went down last year in the Kentucky game, Hill slid into to his spot and finished the game. The now-sophomore did have some issues with snapping the ball that day, but from a blocking perspective, there was almost no drop off.
There will be some competition at center, as Jamaree Salyer and Warren Ericson also figure to get snaps at the position. Georgia’s had a strong tradition of centers dating back almost a decade now, and Hill has an excellent chance to continue that line. It also may be hard for Hill to leapfrog either Ben Cleveland, Solomon Kindley and Cade Mays at either of the offensive guard spots, making it imperative he impress at center.
Nolan Smith, freshman outside linebacker
There are a lot of options at outside linebacker, much like wide receiver. We think Smith — the No. 1 overall recruit in the 2019 cycle — could validate his hype with a strong spring practice.
It’s no secret that Georgia needs to a better job of getting after the quarterback this year, as the Bulldogs had just 20 sacks in the regular season last year. Georgia has a number of highly touted players who could pressure the quarterback, but there wasn’t a ton of production outside of D’Andre Walker last year, and he’s now off to the NFL draft.
Smith isn’t the only elite prospect on the team, as sophomores Brenton Cox and Adam Anderson were both 5-star prospects. Smith doesn’t necessarily need to prove himself as an every down player to start his Georgia career. But if he could carve out a role similar to what Walker did in 2017 — when he finished second on the team sacks serving mostly as a situational pass rusher— Georgia’s defense could be even better in 2019 than it was in 2018.
Tyson Campbell, sophomore cornerback
Someone has to replace Deandre Baker, who won the Thorpe Award in 2018 for being college football’s top defensive back. Campbell figures to get the first real crack at it.
Assuming Eric Stokes still holds down his spot from last year, Campbell seems like the returning player most likely to fill in for Baker. Campbell made 10 starts as freshman, but was benched late in the year in favor of Stokes.
Campbell showed improvements when he returned to the starting line-up against Texas. He’s going to have to show this spring he’s made another leap to hold off talented cornerback prospects like Tyrique Stevenson and DJ Daniel. Those two are both members of Georgia’s 2019 recruiting class who have already enrolled early at Georgia.
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