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If Jake Fromm returns, Georgia football will be loaded for a title run.

Georgia football New Year’s resolution: Best-case lineup with Jake Fromm returning

ATHENS — The Georgia football New Year’s resolution hasn’t changed: win the national championship.

The Bulldogs have been chasing it the past three years under Kirby Smart, playing 41 of their 43 games with national championship hopes alive.

If Jake Fromm chooses to return — his decision is pending, with optimism growing — an SEC Championship and return trip to the College Football Playoffs is within reach for the program again.

Fromm, who was expected to meet with Coach Kirby Smart on Monday, has yet to make any sort of official announcement.

But the fact so many of Fromm’s teammates are suddenly saying they will stay another year could influence Fromm — or, be a reflection that they know the face of the program will remain the same for another year.

Coming and going

Safety Richard LeCounte, who produced five turnovers in the last six games, including two interceptions in the Sugar Bowl, was the first to announce he was returning.

Then it was Malik Herring, a rising star on the defensive line who had a career-high five tackles at Baylor, saying that he, too would return.

On Monday night, the momentum continued when sticky cover cornerback Eric Stokes said he was coming back to patrol the secondary one more year at Georgia.

Junior guard Solomon Kindley announced on Tuesday he was leaving, a decision many expected.

Georgia has won three straight SEC East Division crowns and would be favored to win a fourth — as well as likely being favored to win the SEC Championship Game — if Fromm returns.

The Bulldogs have their fair share of attrition: offensive tackles Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson announced they are going pro, as has tailback D’Andre Swift and the aforementioned Kindley.

Senior receivers Lawrence Cager and Tyler Simmons are moving on, as are senior tight ends Charlie Woerner and Eli Wolf.

On defense, senior All-SEC picks Tyler Clark (defensive line) and J.R Reed (safety) will be headed to NFL camps in search of roster spots. More leadership will be missed with senior defensive linemen Michael Barnett and David Marshall exhausting their eligibility.

Silver lining

Don’t say bowl games don’t matter, because the Sugar Bowl certainly did for Georgia.

The silver lining to the New Orleans New Year’s Day Classic was UGA got a sample of what it could be with 12 former starters missing and Swift was limited to just one carry.

Junior Devonte Wyatt stepped into Clark’s starting spot against Baylor and speedy freshman Lewis Cine turned in six tackles at safety in place of Reed.

Offensively, Cade Mays and Jamaree Salyer were more than adequate against a proven Baylor pass rush that had set a school record for sacks his season.

Fromm surely took note, just as he found himself in a groove with freshman receiver George Pickens, who won Sugar Bowl MVP honors and tied a school record with 12 catches for 175 yards and a touchdown.

Matt Landers, a 6-foot-5 target with big-play ability also snared a TD pass and registered a career-high three catches for 25 yards.

Fromm and middle linebacker Monty Rice are the two remaining players yet to announce if they will return for their senior seasons.

Projected lineup

Here’s a look at what a “best case” scenario might look like in 2020:

* undecided on return

Offense

QB Jake Fromm*

RB Zamir White / Kenny McIntosh / James Cook / Kendall Milton

WR George Pickens / Matt Landers / Kearis Jackson / Demetris Robertson / Dominick Blaylock / Jermaine Burton / Marcus Rosemy /Arian Smith

TE Darnell Washington / John Fitzpatrick

LT Cade Mays / Xavier Truss

LG Justin Shaffer

C Trey Hill

RG Ben Cleveland / Warren Ericson

RT Jamaree Salyer / Tate Ratledge

Defense

DE Malik Herring / Travon Walker

NT Jordan Davis / Julian Rochester

DT Devonte Wyatt /Jalen Carter

OLB Azeez Ojulari / Nolan Smith / Mekhail Sherman

ILB Monty Rice * / Quay Walker

WLB Nakobe Dean

SLB Jermaine Johnson / Adam Anderson

STAR: Mark Webb / Divaad Wilson

CB Eric Stokes / Kelee Ringo

CB Tyson Campbell / DJ Daniel

FS Lewis Cine / Christopher Smith

SS Richard LeCounte / Tyrique Stevenson

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