Georgia football-winners-losers-fall camp
Georgia quarterback JT Daniels (18) during the Bulldogs’ practice session on Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (Photo by Tony Walsh)
Tony Walsh

Georgia football winners and losers from fall camp

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Georgia football winners and losers from fall camp

Winner: Freshman pass catchers

While recapping the second scrimmage on Saturday, Kirby Smart mentioned the practice effectively wrapped up fall camp for the Bulldogs. Georgia will have Sunday and Monday off before returning to the practice field on Tuesday as the team ramps up for the first game against Clemson.

Two young playmakers earned consistent praise from Smart and teammates during the rigorous practices. They both happen to be freshmen in tight end Brock Bowers and wide receiver Adonai Mitchell.

The two built off strong spring showings, but doing so in August is another big step in the right direction. Each took advantage of injuries at their respective positions, but both showed they would have found a way into Georgia’s rotation even if the Bulldogs were at full health for the Clemson game.

“He came in the spring, probably was swimming some in the spring, but he’s accelerated his learning,” Smart said of Bowers. “He’s competitive, he works his tail off every day. He’s a joy to be around. He’s what you want in a football player. So we’ve got to find a way to use his skillset.”

Related: Wide receiver Adonai Mitchell has to go through growing pains but ‘his time is coming soon’

Questions still linger about the wide receiver and tight end positions but the long-term outlook at both spots is bolstered by the early excellence of Bowers and Mitchell.

Loser: The injury list

After the first scrimmage, Smart acknowledged the offense had been a little more banged up than he had hoped. Kearis Jackson, John FitzPatrick and Jermaine Burton did not participate due to injuries, while Arik Gilbert stepped away due to personal reasons.

Then last week, Georgia saw Darnell Washington and Tykee Smith both suffer foot injuries that required surgery. Their status is now very much in question for the Clemson game.

Related: Arik Gilbert’s mentor: ‘He needs your prayers and your positivity’

Smart added that wide receiver Arian Smith had been dealing with a turf toe injury while freshman offensive tackle Amarius Mims has been battling back issues as well.

When asked about FitzPatrick, Gilbert and Dominick Blaylock, Smart was rather vague as far as their availability less than two weeks from the Clemson game.

“Yeah, we’re hopeful to get all those guys back, um, soon,” Smart said. “Every one of them was day-to-day and some of them you mentioned are practicing now. Each one of them is a different situation, but I expect to be full tilt when Clemson comes, when it comes time to play them.”

Georgia is going to need to be close to full strength if it is to beat the Tigers. We’ll see how healthy they are when the two teams take the field on Sept. 4.

Winner: Tate Ratledge

The redshirt freshman had a strong spring and ended up starting with the first-team offense on G-Day.

Now it seems Ratledge will be starting for Georgia at right guard when the Bulldogs take the field against Clemson.

“(Justin) Shaffer and Tate have been primary at guard, but we’ve shuffled some other guys around at guard to get different guys in there,” Smart said. “So, I feel good about our depth at offensive line, you know, and we still have time to determine who the starting five will be, in terms of the tackles.”

Georgia has recruited very well along the offensive line in the past two cycles and it seems Ratledge is the first from either class to win a starting spot.

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