Starting on the first of every month, we’re going to recap the previous month for Georgia football and all that happened around the program.
Georgia football winners and losers for the month of January
Winner: Those hoping for new Georgia offense
Following a disappointing 2019 campaign on this side of the ball, many wanted to see some changes. It seems like you can count Kirby Smart in that category as well, given Georgia figures to look drastically different on that side of the ball.
First, Georgia brought in transfer quarterback Jamie Newman, who now is very likely to lead the Georgia offense. His game is a departure from what the Bulldogs got from Jake Fromm, as Newman had 574 rushing yards at Wake Forest last year.
The best part of Newman’s passing game figures to be his deep passing ability. That should mesh well with what Todd Monken likes to do, as he is now Georgia’s new offensive coordinator.
Monken has spent the past four seasons in the NFL, with stops in Cleveland and Tampa Bay. Prior to that, he served as the head coach at Southern Miss and the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State.
With those two added in, along with Florida State tight end Tre Mckitty and the likes of Kendall Milton, Marcus Rosemy, Jermaine Burton and Arian Smtih as parts of the 2020 recruiting class, the Georgia offense figures to have a very different feel in 2020 compared to what we saw during November of the 2019 season.
Loser: Members of the 2019 Georgia offense
Following Georgia’s 26-14 win over the Sugar Bowl, there were a number of questions surrounding who would stay and who would go from the 2019 offense. D’Andre Swift seemed like a very likely candidate to enter the NFL draft, given his draft status. He did so following the Sugar Bowl.
But in more surprising news, Swift was joined by teammates Jake Fromm and Solomon Kindley. Both were three-year starters for the Bulldogs but neither are locks to become top picks in the upcoming NFL draft. Fromm and Kindley also didn’t have great years in 2019.
Then later in the month, James Coley was stripped of his duties as offensive coordinator and play-caller. He briefly remained on staff but is now the tight ends coach at Texas A&M. The struggles in 2019 were not all Coley’s fault, but when you are the coordinator for a unit that struggled as much as Georgia did, there will be consequences.
There is a long list of ways Georgia’s offense didn’t play as it could’ve in 2019. And it’s hard to say next year’s unit will be better without the likes of Swift, Fromm and tackles Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson.
But Smart and the Bulldogs are going to need it to do that if Georgia is going reach the College Football Playoff and possibly win a national title.
Winner: New arrivals
Newman, Mckitty and Monken aren’t the only additions for Georgia this month. The Bulldogs also added Buster Faulkner to the staff. He’s got plenty of experience as an offensive mind. At the moment, he is a quality control staffer but that could change given Coley’s departure. Georgia only has nine assistant coaches at the moment, meaning another staff addition is on the table.
Georgia also added quite a few high profile members to its various recruiting classes. The Bulldogs add 5-star cornerback Kelee Ringo and 5-star athlete Darnell Washington at the various All-American games. Washington figures to contribute early on at tight end, while Ringo looks to be next in the line of defensive backs who play early for Georgia.
The Bulldogs also landed a 5-star prospect in the 2021 class, as quarterback Brock Vandagriff announced his pledge to the home-state team. He’s the No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the 2021 cycle and the top player in the state of Georgia.
It’s still early but it looks like the Bulldogs will be focusing more on in-state prospects for the 2021 cycle, so having a class leader like Vandagriff in the fold could provide a huge boost to Georgia’s efforts.
Given Georgia did win the SEC East last year and that LSU ran through just about everybody, it would’ve been easy for Kirby Smart to rest us on what he built. But the Bulldogs didn’t rest in the first month of the offseason, as Smart knows that being very good just isn’t good enough.
Loser: Anyone following the Zach Evans recruitment
At the beginning of the month, it seemed like a forgone conclusion that the nation’s No. 1 running back in the country was going to announce that he had signed with the Georgia Bulldogs.
By the end of the month, Georgia ended up taking another commitment form a different running back, as Evans is still unsigned and uncommitted heading into National Signing Day.
Evans had clearly teased he was going to announce that he signed with Georgia at the Under Armour All-American Game on Jan. 2. But on the morning of, it was learned that he would not be making his college announcement that night. Then he issued a public apology to his future college coaches during the game.
Shortly after that, it was reported Evans had been released from his letter of intent that would have bound him to Georgia. He’s since taken visits to Ole Miss and Tennessee. On Jan. 30, Georgia accepted a commitment from in-state product Daijun Edwards.
There is still somehow a non-zero chance Evans lands at Georgia, but that’s only because his entire recruitment has been unpredictable. It has truly been one of the strangest recruitments in recent memory, especially for a player as talented as the 5-star running back.
Winner: Georgia’s 2020 defense
It seems like ages ago given all the changes Georgia has undergone on offense, but the Georgia defense got some great news at the beginning of the month from several key defenders.
First Richard LeCounte revealed he would be returning for his senior season. Then Eric Stokes, Monty Rice and Malik Herring all announced they would be doing the same. The Bulldogs also haven’t seen any of the assistant coaches on that side of the ball depart either.
Georgia already had one of the best defensive units in the country last year. Add in a number of senior leaders, another influx of elite talent and continuity on the coaching staff and Georgia’s defense figures to somehow be even better next season.
Much will be made of Georgia’s offense next season and rightfully so. But the defense once again should be something the Bulldogs can lean on over the course of the season.
More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation
- Will Shipley: The junior RB is best defined by a letter rather than a 5-star ranking
- Jake Fromm ‘never prayed about anything harder’ than before NFL decision
- Georgia football podcast: Elite recruit hints at interesting change for UGA
- Georgia offensive personality shifting, but core beliefs and process likely unchanged
- Highlighting the players in the 2020 recruiting class you would’ve loved to see Georgia football land
- Sedrick Van Pran-Granger: Even Arthur Blank wants to know if he’s still ‘comfortable’ with UGA