ATHENS — When it comes to Jamie Newman, Georgia fans and even former team players are going to have to agree to disagree.
Former captain and Butkus Award finalist Monty Rice let former UGA All-American Matt Stinchomb know where the current team stood on the issue in a recent social media exchange.
Kirby Smart — another former Georgia football team captain and now the head coach — made UGA’s official stance on Newman clear at the time of Newman’s departure:
“While we will miss him being part of our program, I fully support Jamie’s decision and we will continue to regard him as a Georgia Bulldog. Certainly, we wish him nothing but the best in his quest for an NFL career and he knows he will always have a home at UGA.”
Newman was one of the biggest stories at the Senior Bowl this week and it had nothing to do with the drama in the fan base and between the former team captains.
Only three of the seven UGA players invited made it through the week healthy and are expected to play: Tight end Tre’ McKitty, cornerback DJ Daniel and safety Mark Webb.
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The Senior Bowl game at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday (NFL Network) at Hancock Whitney stadium means more to Newman than any other player, as he looks to shake off the rust of not playing a game this season.
RELATED: Jamie Newman opens up on leaving Georgia football
The quarterbacks in the game, which include Alabama’s Mac Jones, Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond, Notre Dame’s Ian Book and Arkansas’ Feleipe Franks, will be talked about more than any other players by virtue of the position.
The SEC-heavy “American” Senior Bowl team features Mac Jones, Kellen Mond and Jamie Newman
Newman has been described as the “wild card” of the game because the NFL has an interest in the 6-foot-3, 235-pounder. Newman has prototypical size, great arm strength and good potential at the next level.
Newman is not the only player to opt-out of the 2020 season who is playing in the Senior Bowl, but he is surely the most notable.
Fact is, Georgia captured the nation’s attention when it landed the former Wake Forest star out of the NCAA transfer portal last January.
The Newman hype was such that he appeared among Heisman Trophy favorites in the preseason.
Few realize it, but Newman averaged more yards passing and rushing per game in 2019 with the Demon Deacons than projected first-round pick Justin Fields did at Ohio State — and with less of a surrounding support cast.
That doesn’t necessarily translate into high NFL draft stock, however, because Newman played in a modified RPO system under Dave Clawson and there are questions about his ability to adjust to Pro-Style offensive system.
That’s why Newman choosing Georgia was so significant, as he had many other options to choose from.
Newman was splitting first-team reps with JT Daniels at the time he announced he was opting out amid Covid-19 concerns.
Newman had been at UGA eight months and had not been named the starter.
To boot, Georgia had added Daniels in late May, a former 5-star QB who had experience in the Pro-Style system at USC.
Covid concerns or not, the writing was on the wall for Newman, who was likely operating under the same assumption as his head coach that Daniels’ knee would be recovered enough for the USC transfer to play in the opener.
Would it have been a good business decision to Newman to stay if he wasn’t the starter, or would that have damaged his NFL draft stock?
Many Georgia fans didn’t see it that way, however, viewing Newman as someone who bailed on the program prematurely.