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Tony Walsh/ UGA Sports
Former Georgia and Wake Forest quarterback Jamie Newman is ready to compete at the Senior Bowl.

WATCH: ‘Wild card’ Jamie Newman primed, focused on Senior Bowl week showing

ATHENS —  What might have been for Georgia football this season will be on display this week in Mobile, Ala.

Former Wake Forest grad transfer Jamie Newman will be among a star-studded cast of quarterbacks that take the field for Senior Bowl workouts beginning on Tuesday.

Newman, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound NFL prospect with a rocket arm and good mobility, will compete with Mac Jones, Kyle Trask and Kellen Mond on a daily basis leading up to the all-star game at 2:30 p.m. next Saturday.

“He’s really the wild card of the whole week,” Jim Nagy, Senior Bowl executive director and former Super Bowl-winning NFL scout, told DawgNation. “As everyone in Georgia knows, he opted out, so there’s going to be a rust factor.

“It’s how quickly can Jamie shake off the rust and acclimate himself to a Pro-Style offense.”

 

Senior Bowl take-off

The Carolina Panthers staff will coach Newman’s team, so he’ll get to work with Carolina offensive coordinator Joe Brady and the Panthers staff.

Newman will take his place in the drill work lines throwing to a receiver group that includes Florida’s Kadarius Toney and Trevon Grimes, Georgia’s Tre’ McKitty and Tennessee’s Josh Palmer.

It’s a pivotal week with the NFL combine canceled on account of the Covid pademic’s complications. The Senior Bowl will be the only opportunity for many top prospects to meet face-to-face with NFL GMs and coaches.

RELATED: Richard LeCounte scratches from Senior Bowl

Travel to teams’ Pro Days is expected to mostly consist of scouts — not the decision-makers.

It’s up to Newman and the other players to make the most of it.

“Jamie has been looking really good,” renowned quarterback trainer Quincy Avery told DawgNation on Saturday night.

“It was difficult to keep him ready, but we kept him on the field and did as much as we could, putting him in difficult situations on the field and having him sort it out.”

Avery, who also works with Miami QB D’Eriq King, moved Newman’s training from Atlanta — where he had worked out this fall after leaving UGA — to the EXOS facility in Pensacola earlier this month.

“Jamie has been super-focused,” Avery said. “He’s excited for the opportunity.”

Georgia football-national media-jamie newman
Jamie Newman (Chamberlain Smith/UGAAA)

The departure

A return to game action has been a long time coming after Newman issued a Sept. 2 statement that he was leaving Georgia on account of Covid.

“With much prayer and discussion with my family, I would like to announce that due to the uncertainties of this year amid a global pandemic I will officially opt-out of this football season to prepare for the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft,” Newman said. “I would like to thank Coach Smart for extending the opportunity for me to be a part of the University of Georgia football program.”

RELATED: How Jamie Newman went from Heisman candidate to opting out

Smart revealed Newman came to his office the day before the announcement, on a non-practice day, to let him know of his pending withdrawal from classes and Georgia football.

Newman was on campus all summer, returning for the voluntary workouts with the rest of the team in June, and soldiering through a sprained foot injury in July.

The Bulldogs had weathered another August camp session and held just one fall scrimmage when Newman shocked the college football world with his decision.

It led to a well-documented Georgia quarterback saga that ultimately proved to be the team’s undoing.

Quarterback derby

Shortly after Newman’s departure, Smart said he was under the assumption USC transfer JT Daniels would be cleared for the opening game.

RELATED: No second-guessing from JT Daniels family

But when Daniels’ recovery from knee surgery lagged, UGA found itself with relatively inexperienced options.

Redshirt freshman D’Wan Mathis had made an incredible offseason recovery from brain surgery, and Smart granted him the first start of the season.

The newness of UGA’s offense was evident by the second quarter, with errant snaps, incorrect routes and Mathis taking a vicious hit on the sideline.

Smart turned the offense over to former walk-on Stetson Bennett in the second quarter with the Bulldogs’ scoreless.

RELATED: D’Wan Mathis miracle recovery a tale worth telling

Bennett won the game and the trust of Smart and his teammates, going 3-2 as the team’s starter.

The Bulldogs’ offense didn’t take off in earnest until Daniels was cleared to play the final four games of the season after the team’s title hopes were dashed in a 44-28 loss in Florida.

As the offense clicked under Daniels’ direction, many wondered what might have happened if another experienced, proven quarterback like Newman had stayed?

Jamie Newman Twitter photo

Promising beginning

Newman arrived in Georgia last January looking to transition from Wake Forest’s modified RPO offense to the Bulldogs’ pro-style system under the direction of former NFL offensive coordinator Todd Monken.

Avery, like everyone else, was optimistic Newman would be a good fit.

“He has the ability to make every single throw on the football field, (and) you look at his stats, he was leading the country in contested throws and he didn’t have the receivers to the level of Georgia’s,” Avery said before Newman arrived

RELATED: QB trainer optimistic Newman fits Georgia direction

“You’re going to see somebody who is going to be the most prepared quarterback in the country.”

Newman impressed during limited throwing drills during Georgia’s winter conditioning, but when Covid shutdown NCAA athletics last March, coaches were cut-off from in-person instruction/

It was a worst-case scenario for quarterbacks like Newman who had transferred to new schools.

RELATED: Newman expected to excel quickly at Georgia

Zoom doomed

In Georgia’s case, the quarterback transfer process was even more complicated with a new OC on board. 

Everyone was learning the new offense, new terminology and new route trees that Monken introduced.

There was nowhere for Newman to look for added help, and Zoom technology was limited in the ways it could help a quarterback develop beyond the playbook.

Newman’s story played out behind closed doors, with no media access to the transfer player, or any practices the seven months he was on campus.

Smart did, however, allow Newman to address boosters in a restricted video presentation.

RELATED: 3 things from Jamie Newman’s Insider booster interview

Newman sounded ready for the challenge, and confident in his abilities.

“Steve McNair, he’s one of the guys I feel like I’m similar to; big, country strong, tough competitor,” said Newman, who was wearing the same No. 9 for the Bulldogs that the late McNair once wore for the Tennessee Titans.

“Of course Cam Newton, I’ve been a Cam Newton fan since probably middle school when he first came out,” Newman added in a video chat that the football staff had restricted to high-level donors.

“I would also say Donovan McNabb, tough, physical big guy, just get it done at all costs kind of costs type of guy.”

Newman’s talent

Newman’s running and big arm were on display during his strong 2019 campaign at Wake Forest.

Indeed, Newman out-produced Ohio State’s Justin Fields in passing and rushing yards per game in 2019.

UGA workouts were held exclusively behind closed doors, so there was very little video footage of Newman released.

But former Georgia players who are now in the media, such as Aaron Murray and David Pollack, shared what they had been able to glean.

“(The touch pass) is something Jamie needs to work on,” Murray said on Birmingham’s WJOX 3-Man Front program. “It’s a little bit less of him trying to muscle the ball, and I think it’s a little bit more of Jamie needs to loosen up a little bit.”

Pollack was one of the biggest supporters of Newman.

 

“I remember watching him last year ….  and I was like Omigod, he’s got something special,” Pollack said during an ESPN podcast.

“He’s big, he’s physical, he makes downfield throws look easy, he runs the zone read follow, and does all kinds of cool things.”

Monken described the Georgia QB competition as “open” before Newman left, though he did praise his arm.

WATCH: Todd Monken shares new UGA offensive concepts

“The one thing I would say about Jamie,” Monken said, “is that he’s a better thrower — everybody talked about his athleticism — but he’s a better thrower than people think.”

Smart’s summation of the first scrimmage was hardly glowing, and he also maintained the UGA quarterback job was up for grabs.

I don’t think anyone has separated if that’s what you’re asking,” Smart said. “As far as the timetable for that, I don’t have a timetable for that.”

Newman’s NFL clock starts this week in Mobile with other elite quarterbacks and NFL coaches around him, once he and the other Senior Bowl invitees clear Covid protocol on Monday.

That means there are two more days of waiting before the NFL, and Georgia fans, finally get to see what Jamie Newman is all about.

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