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.
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.
Here’s a look at what a “best case” scenario might look like in 2020:
* undecided on return
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
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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