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Georgia football winners and losers from 2022 roster movement
Winner: Kirby Smart’s vision
Georgia football won a National Championship this month and did it the way Smart wanted to. The Bulldogs had a punishing defense. Its offense scored when it needed to, mixing in a physical running game with an explosive passing offense.
And when Georgia needed to take over in the fourth quarter, it did so against an Alabama team that has occupied the throne in college football for the past decade.
The Bulldogs built their program thanks to recruiting, signing elite class after elite class. It gives Georgia a massive margin of error against much of its schedule. In the championship game, its best players were able to make the big plays and win the school’s first National Championship since 1980.
Of course, the downside in building that way is that you have a lot of talented players who want to play. Thanks to the transfer portal they can now do so elsewhere.
Eight players have entered the transfer portal since Georgia took down Alabama. But those departures best illustrate how talented this Georgia team was. Five of those eight players are headed to other SEC schools. Cornerback Ameer Speed is transferring to Michigan State. The only player that doesn’t yet have a home is quarterback JT Daniels, who some considered a Heisman Trophy candidate to start the season.
Even with the departures — and there will be more coming — Georgia will be able to weather any kind of storm that comes via the transfer portal and NFL draft. It’s because of what Smart has built in his six seasons at Georgia.
Loser: Cortez Hankton’s replacement
That being said Georgia has been hit harder in some positions than in others. Three Georgia wide receivers have transferred this month, none bigger than Jermaine Burton ending up at Alabama.
Add in George Pickens declaring for the NFL draft and Georgia will have to replace its two most talented wide receivers next season. Georgia still has Brock Bowers coming back but the Bulldogs will need more from a position group that was hobbled all season.
Related: WATCH: Terrence Edwards shares thoughts on Jermaine Burton, Arik Gilbert and Georgia wide receivers coach opening
Georgia also saw Hankton leave, heading to LSU with a hefty raise. Smart, as expected, has been deliberate in finding a replacement for Hankton. For all the credit Hankton deserves for landing Burton and developing AD Mitchell and Ladd McConkey, Georgia wasn’t recruiting as well at wide receiver compared to other positions.
Smart will eventually find a replacement for Hankton. Whoever that is has an uphill task in getting the wide receiver room on par with some of Georgia’s other position groups.
Winner: Dan Lanning’s replacement