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Georgia tight end Brock Bowers goes up high for a touchdown catch over Tech defensive back Tobias Oliver. (Hyosub Shin/AJC)
HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Brock Bowers injury makes Georgia tight end room much more interesting in spring practice

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Brock Bowers injury puts renewed focus on Georgia tight end position

That tight end Brock Bowers will miss spring practice is not all that surprising. The star tight end had a nagging shoulder injury at the end of the 2021 season that limited him parts of the win against Michigan. It didn’t prevent him from finding the end zone in wins over the Wolverines and Alabama, but it was something Georgia head coach Kirby Smart spoke on before the 2022 National Championship Game.

“That same shoulder has bothered him all year, to be honest. It’s not like it’s something new that just came up. It bothers him from time to time at practice,” Smart said. “It happens to a lot of our players, to be honest with you. I had it when I played. It’s something you have to just deal with and in the offseason we’ll get a look at it, see if it needs to be repaired surgically or whether or not it’s something that he can rehab and continue to strengthen the muscles around it.”

What the injury does do though is put a greater spotlight on the rest of Georgia’s tight end room this spring. With Bowers out and John FitzPatrick off to the NFL, it opens the door for a lot more reps for the rest of the room.

It starts with Darnell Washington. The junior tight end did not have the 2021 season he envisioned due to a preseason foot injury. That injury kept him out of four games for Georgia and had him make only six starts a season ago. His numbers improved off of his freshman season, but given the massive hype surrounding the former 5-star prospect a 10-catch, 154-yard one touchdown season was not what he envisioned.

Paramount for Washington will be staying healthy. From there, he’ll have the opportunity to take over a large chunk of FitzPatrick’s reps. If his conditioning is strong, he’ll have the chance to be a player that never leaves the field for Georgia. That might not lead to a Bowers-like receiving workload, but it should see Washington emerge as a bigger piece of the Georgia offense.

Georgia does have juniors Brett Seither and Ryland Goede on the roster this spring and each will have something to prove. Goede has battled injuries throughout his Georgia career, while Seither was passed on the depth chart last season by the younger Bowers. Seither was the more productive of the two last season, though he finished with only three receptions for 42 yards and a touchdown.

Perhaps the player with the most to gain from the absence of Browers is freshman tight end Oscar Delp.

Like Bowers a season ago, Delp enrolled early as one of the top tight end prospects in the country. Delp was actually a higher-rated prospect coming out of high school than Bowers was, but the latter clearly outplayed his projection as a freshman.

Related: Oscar Delp: The clever rewrite to a 1995 hit song his Mom rewrote for karaoke on his official visit

Delp is slightly bigger than Bowers as the freshman from Cumming, Ga., is listed at 6-foot-5. He’ll need to add weight to his frame but he should be able to do so thanks to getting a jumpstart on his college career.

The natural inclination will be to compare Bowers and Delp, especially with the former not taking valuable reps from Delp. Smart said often during the 2021 season that the injuries to FitzPatrick and Washington gave Bowers the opportunity to make all the plays he did for Georgia. It’s unfair to expect Delp to do what Bowers did, given Bowers put forth once of the best freshman seasons in the history of Georgia football.

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