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Kirby Smart and Georgia are 9-1 this and ranked No. 5 in the country.

Former UGA WR Juan Daniels: ‘I would’ve done anything to play under Kirby and this group’

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#DGD: Catching up with former Bulldog Juan Daniels

In this week’s installment of the #DGD or “Damn Good Dawg” series, we catch up with former Georgia wide receiver Juan Daniels. He played at Georgia from 1993-96, racking up 120 catches and 1,975 receiving yards in his time in Athens. He still ranks 10th all-time in receiving yards for the Bulldogs. He also overlapped with Georgia coach Kirby Smart while the two were in Athens. 

Daniels, 44, has been a pharmaceutical rep for almost 15 years. Prior to his time at Georgia, he was also a star player at Norcross High School, which has produced fellow SEC stars like Lorenzo Carter and Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara. 

DN: You played with Kirby while he was at Georgia. Did you ever think that he’d turn into what he’s become, especially as a coach at Georgia?

JD: Never in a million years, I was too busy beating him in one-on-ones, and then blocking him down the field. But it really is amazing. You can tell that he always had that fire, and a lot of the defensive guys have that fire, that passion. I played with Will Muschamp (who also played at Georgia at the same time) and you can see that in him as a head coach. They have that passion and fire. I didn’t think it would get to this level, but I’m incredibly proud of Kirby and what he’s done, and what he’s turned our football team into. It (the football team) reminds me of the Georgia of the 80s—Just mean, tough nosed guys that are coming just to run you over. 

DN: So you like the direction and style the program has under Smart?

JD: I love it. No disrespect to the coaches that I had, but I would’ve done anything to play under Kirby and this group. Even just watching how the defense plays under Mel Tucker, it’s really amazing. 

DawgNation: What have you made of Georgia this year, especially with how much this team has seemed to improve over the last couple of games?

Juan Daniels: They’re young, however, they’ve pretty much risen to the occasion so far. With the obvious exception of the LSU game, which was a little bit of a setback. We have a group that seems to grow from adversity, which is something we haven’t seen for a while. 

DN: Being as good as a wide receiver as you were, how do you think the Georgia passing game has looked this season?

JD: They’re doing fairly well, especially when the pass protection has been able to hold up. I think the receiving core is actually pretty good. I obviously root for every receiver to make big plays, except for Terry Godwin because he’s about to knock me out of the Top-10 (in receiving yards). I want him to catch short routes and score lots of touchdowns, but I don’t want him to have a ton of yards.

DN: You mention that it is a talented group of wide receivers, is there anyone that you’ve seen that has really stood out or separated themselves this year?

JD: No. 9, (Jeremiah) Holloman. He’s an absolute monster. He’s a game-changer, and I really feel like that is (Jake) Fromm’s go-to-guy. When he needs to make a desperation play, he’s the guy that gets the call. It’s very well deserved.

DN: Georgia has been rotating quarterbacks throughout the season, switching in Jake Fromm and Justin Fields. How do you think both quarterbacks have looked, and what do you make of Kirby’s usage of them?

JD: Fromm is the guy. He’s going to be the guy until he proves otherwise. I do believe that vs. LSU, Justin Fields should’ve been given the opportunity. Sort of like in the second half of the national championship game like Alabama did with Tua (Tagovailoa). I’m not saying to give Fields the reins, but use him as a change-of-pace guy. Just give Justin Fields an opportunity to see what he can do. But Fromm is obviously the guy.  

DN: You bring up Alabama, and while Georgia does have other games left, that is the game Georgia obviously has circled. What do you think is going to happen in that game?

JD: It’s going to be our offensive will vs. their defense. If we can get our backs to just hammer and pound the ball down the field, we’ve got (D’Andre) Swift, (Brian) Herrien and (Elijah) Holyfield. Those guys are going to have to step up and push through. We’re going to have to make those critical throws. We’re not asking him (Fromm) to be outstanding, we just need him to manage the game. It’s old-fashioned, Nick Saban football. You think about the quarterbacks in his history, you can probably only name one or two of them because their job was to just manage the game, rely on their defense and give the ball to those backs. I think Kirby is just kind of turning Georgia into that, and if we can go out there and do that for that game, then they can and will upset Alabama.

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