The Georgia football team has played its final game of the 2019 season, as the Bulldogs next take the field on Jan. 1 against Baylor in the Sugar Bowl.
But Georgia and coach Kirby Smart will be plenty busy between now and then between recruiting, staff hirings and players possibly leaving early for the 2020 NFL Draft, the final weeks of the 2020 calendar year will be very busy.
Below, we’ve put together an outline to give you an idea of what is coming and what potential changes and moves could be made in the final weeks of 2019.
Immediate interest: Finding a new offensive line coach
Georgia saw Sam Pittman depart for the Arkansas head coaching job on Sunday. One only has to look at what junior offensive lineman Ben Cleveland had to say about Pittman to understand how significant this loss is to the Georgia program.
Arkansas got a damn good one. Not many people I respect on this earth more than this man. Will forever love this man and owe him so much for the knowledge he gave me for this game I get to play every day https://t.co/Jph06X9rKS
— Big Country (@BenCleveland74) December 9, 2019
There is also the rather large question of the five 2020 offensive line commits Georgia has in its class and their status given Pittman was the lead recruiter for all of them. DawgNation’s Jeff Sentell outlined where all five stand with Georgia.
The early signing period starts on Dec. 18 and Georgia would very much like to have those five players signed then. That’s why hiring an offensive line coach as soon as possible is so vital, because it would give assurances to Broderick Jones, Tate Ratledge, Joshua Braun, Chad Lindberg and Sedrick Van Pran-Granger.
As for one possible name, an obvious candidate is former Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke. He’s been a long-time offensive line coach as he worked under David Cutcliffe and Hugh Freeze. It would be a step down in title for Luke, but there are worse places to coach than at Georgia, especially given the talent the Bulldogs are set to return.
Tuesday, Dec. 10
According to multiple reports, The South Carolina Board of Trustees will be meeting on Tuesday to approve the contract of Mike Bobo to be South Carolina’s new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
Many had wanted Georgia to make a run at Bobo given his ties to the school, his relationship with Smart and the struggles Georgia had on the offensive side of the ball this season. Many have speculated on the changes that could be made, but it’s just that of speculation.
In his time at Georgia, Smart has not yet fired an offensive coach. Former tight ends coach Shane Beamer and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney both decided to leave on their own.
Friday, Dec. 13- Sunday, Dec. 15
This is the final weekend for official visits before the dead period and the final week for visits before the early signing period. Georgia is going to want its top commits and uncommitted targets on campus this weekend to make one final recruiting pitch prior to the beginning of the early signing period. Some of those top targets and their whereabouts to watch include Kelee Ringo, Arian Smith, Donate Manning, Eric Reed Jr. and Jordan Burch.
The Bulldogs have the No. 5 recruiting class in the country at the moment and have room to add players. Georgia likely won’t finish with the No. 1 class, but it will certainly not finish as the 15-man class it is at the moment.
Wednesday, Dec. 18 – Friday, Dec. 20
This is when commits can sign their letters of intent and officially become members of Georgia’s 2020 signing class. Prospects like 5-star linebacker Mekhail Sherman, 5-star running back Kendall Milton, 4-star wide receiver Marcus Rosemy and 4-star quarterback Carson Beck are all expected to sign during this upcoming period.
A number of Georgia targets are also expected to announce over this period as well. Wide receiver Marcus Flemming is set to announce on Wednesday, Dec. 18. Burch, a 5-star defensive end, is scheduled to announce on Dec. 19.
The Bulldogs also could have a number of targets sign during this period but keep their intentions quite until they announce at their various All-American games. 5-star tight end Darnell Washington is set to announce on Jan. 2 along with Manning, while Ringo will announce on Jan. 4.
Georgia traditionally has pulled off some fireworks during this period in the past. In 2018, the Bulldogs landed 5-star prospects Cade Mays and Jamaree Salyer. In 2019, 5-star linebacker Nakobe Dean committed and signed with Georgia during the early signing period.
Friday, Dec. 27
This is when Georgia is set to land in New Orleans and begin preparing for the Sugar Bowl. It is also likely the day we will find out which Georgia players will be participating in the bowl game. Last season, we learned that Deandre Baker would not be playing in this game as the team arrived in New Orleans.
Smart spoke with reporters on Sunday and indicated that he would only be bringing players who wanted to play in the game.
“What I found out last year was that for a lot of kids, it was the most important game of their season and meant so much to them, and then maybe for some others it didn’t,” Smart said. “You’ve got to take the guys that are engaged and excited about playing, because that matters a whole lot more than how good they are.”
The most obvious candidates to watch for would be Andrew Thomas and D’Andre Swift. Both players have been projected as first-round picks in the upcoming NFL draft and it would not come as a surprise if either made the decision to protect themselves from possible injury.
The deadline for players to declare for the 2020 NFL Draft is Jan. 20. There’s a good chance that many players wait to make that announcement until after the Sugar Bowl. Mecole Hardman, Elijah Holyfield, Riley Ridley and Isaac Nauta all did this following the 2019 Sugar Bowl.
Georgia safety Richard LeCounte did vow that he would play in the game when speaking with reporters after the SEC championship game loss.
We should also mention here that there is the possibility players could enter the transfer portal before the team arrives in New Orleans. Last year, Justin Fields had put his name into the transfer portal prior to the team going to New Orleans. Smart did make the decision to bring Fields to the game last year but he did not play for the Bulldogs.
Sunday, Dec. 29
This is when Georgia players can meet with the media once again prior to the start of the Sugar Bowl. Georgia offensive coordinator James Coley is also slated to meet with the media on this day. This will be the first time that reporters can speak to Coley since August.
Dan Lanning and the defensive players will be able to talk to reporters on Dec. 30.
More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation
- BREAKING: Major Georgia recruiting target Theo Johnson has made his decision
- ESPN’s Finebaum: ‘Kirby Smart is trying to run Alabama 2.0 and it’s not working’
- 3 critical Georgia football factors involving Sam Pittman’s departure
- Georgia football winners and losers following 2019 SEC Championship game defeat
- WATCH Georgia RB Zamir White: ‘All I know is hard work and grinding’