ATHENS — Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken had spent more than seven months with Jamie Newman when asked last week to assess the QB competition.
“Open,” was the word Monken chose, after all that time, all those Zoom calls, all that film observation of the 22-year-old Wake Forest graduate transfer.
This, even though the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Newman was the only healthy quarterback on the roster with a season of starting experience behind him.
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The Daniels factor
USC transfer JT Daniels, who tore his ACL in last season’s opening game, has yet to be cleared for game action and remains in a knee brace.
Daniels, nevertheless, has been healthy enough to scrimmage and is now the projected starting quarterback for Georgia’s opening game at Arkansas on Sept. 26.
There was a reason Daniels chose Athens as his transfer destination in May, rejecting quarterback hungry schools like Michigan, Tennessee and Washington.
Monken obviously liked Daniels, and Daniels obviously likes and feels like he’s a good fit for the offense Monken plans to run at Georgia.
Even before Daniels arrived at UGA in June, there were red flags that maybe Newman wasn’t clicking as expected.
The buzz word for Smart when it comes to his quarterbacks is “leadership.” He looks for players that command respect and instill confidence in teammates.
Newman had proven to Smart he could do just that after the first month of voluntary workouts.
“The first thing that pops out at you is his leadership ability,” Smart said in a podcast interview that ran during the team’s break over the July 4 holiday weekend.
“He came into a situation where he doesn’t know a lot of guys on the team, but that hasn’t hindered his ability to lead.”
Newman’s confidence was running high in July. He compared himself to former NFL stars Steve McNair, Donovan McNabb and Cam Newton.
The hype was quickly building, some predicting Newman among the favorites for the Heisman Trophy, others throwing faux first-round NFL draft grades in his direction.