ATHENS — Kirby Smart ticked off the star-studded injury list that will limit the defending national champion Georgia Bulldogs in spring drills during his Tuesday press conference.
Smart, cool as ever, has been around long enough to understand that injuries and setbacks are part of the game and open doors for others during this developmental time on the football calendar.
The unquestioned 2021 offensive MVP, go-to pass target and All-American Brock Bowers, was among the names that will be missing.
Talented tight end Darnell Washington, a player the Bulldogs desperately hope to keep from transferring after spring, is also on the shelf with a surprise leg injury.
Smart pointed out that those injuries will enable Arik Gilbert to get more work, an indication the LSU transfer will play the tight end position.
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Gilbert has been back with the team throughout the six-week offseason conditioning workouts after dealing with personal issues last fall
Bulldozing offensive lineman Tate Ratledge, who injured his foot the first series of the season against Clemson, also remains limited for spring drills.
Even receiver Arian Smith, perhaps the fastest player in college football, remains on the mend from his leg injury and will be limited.
Key players — pivotal, even — and yet Smart didn’t bat an eye as he went down the list:
• TE Brock Bowers (shoulder), out
• TE Darnell Washington (lower leg), out
• LB Rian Davis (quad), limited
• LB Smael Mondon (labrum), out
• DB Tykee Smith (knee), out
• WR Arian Smith, (leg), limited
• LB Trezman Marshall (knee), limited
• DL Bear Alexander (labrum), out
• OL Jacob Hood (ankle), out
• C.J. Madden (shoulder), out
• Griffin Scroggs (shoulder), out
• C.J. Smith (knee), limited
It’s business as usual for the seventh-year head coach with spring football upon him.
“I think the years we’ve been here we’ve had six or seven guys out every spring, mostly with post-season surgeries,” Smart said. “.This year we had a little more with our (19) incoming freshmen.”
Smart said five of the incoming freshmen require surgery, which was expected when they were signed.
“That’s not abnormal for us to have some guys out and injured,” Smart said. “Gives an opportunity for some other guys.
“Hopefully, the (healthy) mid-year kids will be ready to rock and roll for summer and summer workouts, where the NCAA has granted us more time to spend with them and put our defense and offense and special teams in place.”
The Bulldogs have another reload ahead with the team starting spring drills on Tuesday leading up to the annual G-Day Spring Game on April 16.
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