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The 4 Georgia football players with the most to gain during Sugar Bowl practices

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The 4 Georgia football players with the most to gain during bowl practices

This time last year, no one was talking about Georgia outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari. The then-freshman was mostly anonymous during the regular season, due to the fact that he was recovering from a knee injury he suffered during his senior year of high school.

But Ojulari made the most of those practices and earned real playing time in the Sugar Bowl loss to Texas. That proved to be a springboard to the 2019 season, where Ojulari led the team in sacks.

While some might make the argument this is a meaningless bowl game, the 2020 Sugar Bowl can provide real value to a number of Georgia players for the 2020 season. So below, we look at the players who could use the extra practices to their benefit.

Zamir White:

D’Andre Swift has not said anything yet regarding whether or not he will play in the game. But if he makes the selection to sit out the Sugar Bowl, White could really benefit from the possible extra carries.

Georgia will also have Brian Herrien at its disposal as well as James Cook. But the Sugar Bowl will be Herrien’s swan song, and Cook could be facing some form of punishment following his arrest over the weekend.

With those circumstances, White should get extra reps and attention in the run-up to the game. His redshirt freshman season saw him carry the ball 60 times this for 316 yards. This was his first year coming back from an ACL injury that cost him his entire freshman season.

Expectations will once again be high for White, given his former 5-stat status and the recent pedigree of Georgia running backs. Georgia has had at least one 1,000-yard rusher since Kirby Smart took over and some have already tabbed White as a possible Heisman Trophy candidate.

Related:  Georgia RB Zamir White: ‘All I know is hard work and grinding’

Justin Robinson

Robinson won a state title game on Friday with Eagles Landing Christian Academy. He’ll begin practicing with the Bulldogs this week, along with 4-star quarterback Carson Beck. Robinson is one of two wide receiver commits for the Bulldogs and the only one who will enroll early. The other — 4-star Marcus Rosemy who won a state title in Florida this weekend — will enroll in June.

Much like Ojulari did last year, cornerback D.J. Daniel took advantage of the bowl practices a season ago, even though he wasn’t able to play in the Sugar Bowl defeat to Texas. Smart often praised Daniel this year, who emerged as a starter for Georgia at cornerback, and cited his reps in bowl practice as something that gave him a jumpstart on the 2019 season.

Georgia is still going to have questions and concerns at the wide receiver position going into the 2020 season, as Lawrence Cager and Tyler Simmons will have graduated and Dominick Blaylock will still be recovering from an ACL injury.

These extra reps now and in spring practice should possibly help put Robinson into a place where he might be able to make an impact for Georgia at the position in 2020. Especially when Georgia does not have many guys with a 6-foot-4 frame like Robinson. Beck and Robinson won’t be able to play in the 2020 Sugar Bowl, but these extra practices could pay off in a big way come the start of next season.

Related: Georgia early enrollee Justin Robinson revels in being a 3-time state champion

Jamaree Salyer

Along the offensive line, no player made more strides over the course of the season than Salyer. He found a way to make meaningful contributions throughout the season, even though there were other options on the Georgia depth chart.

While he has worked primarily at guard during the season, Salyer has practiced a lot at tackle as well this year. Georgia has been able to move him around and plug him wherever he might be needed. That ability to cross-train at positions is going to be helpful, especially given that Georgia could see tackles Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson depart early for the 2020 NFL Draft.

Salyer could also push the likes Solomon Kindley and Cade Mays for playing time not just in 2020 but possibly for this Sugar Bowl.

However, it’s not yet known who will be coaching Salyer and the offensive line during the bowl game. There has been no announcement as for who will take over for Sam Pittman during the bowl game. Matt Luke will coach the offensive line in 2020, but it is rare for a newly hired coach to work in the bowl game.

Lewis Cine:

The 2020 Sugar Bowl will be J.R. Reed’s final game of his storied career. The 2019 Jim Thorpe Award finalist has had a stellar career for the Bulldogs and been a key fixture of the Georgia defense in the Smart era.

At the very least, Cine will be tasked with replacing him next season. The freshman safety saw significant reps for the first time against LSU. And while the defense didn’t have a stellar outing that day, it did prove to be a valuable experience for Cine.

There is also the possibility that Georgia also has to replace safety Richard LeCounte, as he could declare for the 2020 NFL Draft. That would make Cine’s role on the 2020 defense even more important. Georgia’s defense should still be very good in 2020 but how great likely depends on Cine’s development.

Baylor’s offense is nowhere near the aerial threat that LSU’s was, but it would still benefit the Bulldogs greatly if Cine practices and plays well in Georgia’s final game of the 2019 season.

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