Georgia Bulldogs tight end Brock Bowers (19) runs after making a bobbled catch against Florida Gators linebacker Amari Burney (2) for a 73-yard touchdown during the second quarter in a NCAA football game at TIAA Bank Field, Saturday, October 29, 2022, in Jacksonville, Florida. (Jason Getz /

The big reason Georgia football may not be as tight end reliant in 2023

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Absence of Darnell Washington will have significant impact on Georgia offense

Darnell Washington is a lot like old photos of your grandparents for the Georgia offense. It’s the one thing that can’t be replaced.

Georgia’s tight end room is still brimming with talent. Brock Bowers might double as the best player in the sport, in addition to his normal duties of being the best tight end. There’s a lot of optimism about what Oscar Delp could become for Georgia.

But there’s no replacing someone who is 6-foot-7, 275 pounds, hurdles defenders and can block like an offensive tackle. For as much talent as Georgia has, there’s no replicant for someone that unique.

“We’re going to miss Darnell. You’re always going to take a little bit of a hit like that,” Bowers said. “Delp is coming in there and he’s put on a little bit of weight and he’s been blocking pretty good so far this camp. Just trying to fill that role.”

Related: Brock Bowers looks forward to new offense, quarterback competition: ‘It’s a QB fight’

Bowers himself put on weight this offseason in an effort to bulk up. The Mackey Award winner he wants to focus on making improvements as a run blocker, as opposed to crossing the 1,000-yard threshold in 2023.

Last season, 63 percent of Georgia’s offensive snaps came with at least two tight ends on the field. Given Washington and Bowers were two of Georgia’s best players, it made sense to feature them as much as possible.

The Bulldogs likely won’t be in that much 12 personnel — one running back, two tight ends — even if Delp continues to build off his freshman season. The sophomore tight end came in for an injured Washington in the first quarter of the Peach Bowl win over Ohio State. Delp was on the field for 21 snaps after Washington left the game. Bowers ended up playing 61 in total.

The departure of Washington isn’t the only reason Georgia is likely to be less reliant on tight ends in 2023. There’s also a new offensive coordinator in Mike Bobo as well as an improved wide receiver room.

Bowers admitted he was curious about how the change from Todd Monken to Bobo might impact his role. No pass catcher in Georgia program history has been as productive through their first two seasons as Bowers has for the Bulldogs.

Bobo spent time around the entire offense last season while working as an analyst. That gives Bowers confidence in what Bobo should be able to cook up for the junior tight end.

“He’s been throwing a few wrinkles of his own in there. He’s been doing a good job,” Bowers said of the new Georgia offensive coordinator. “We’ve kept most of the same terms, and he’s made it an easy transition for all of us. I like what he’s been doing. He’s thrown a few wrinkles in there that I like.”

Georgia also went into the transfer portal to get more help at the wide receiver position. It pulled out Rara Thomas of Mississippi State and Dominic Lovett of Missouri.

Both have SEC experience and were productive in 2022, leading their respective teams in receiving.

“It was a position that we were losing several players at. We needed to be able to help our quarterbacks,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “Your quarterbacks need some weapons to throw to, and those guys do that.”

Georgia saw Kearis Jackson leave for the NFL draft, while AD Mitchell and Dominick Blaylock exited via the transfer portal. Georgia signed three wide receivers in the 2023 cycle in Tyler Williams, Anthony Evans and Zeed Haynes. All three are on campus and participating in spring practice.

It was clear Georgia wanted to beef up at the wide receiver position. The Bulldogs are in a much better spot from a numbers standpoint at the wide receiver position than they were in 2022.

And it seems to have come at the expense of the tight ends. Georgia had six scholarship tight ends last season but four of them are now long with the program. Washington is off hoping to be a first-round pick, while Ryland Goede, Brett Seither and Arik Gilbert all transferred.

Georgia did not bring in any tight ends from the transfer portal, instead signing Pearce Spurlin and Lawson Luckie in the 2023 recruiting cycle. Spurlin suffered a collarbone injury that will keep him out for the rest of spring practice.

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