ATHENS — Georgia coach Kirby Smart knows he has something special in his tight ends room provided he can keep all of them healthy.
It’s commonly accepted that the Bulldogs’ boast the best group of collegiate tight ends in the nation and perhaps even ever. Here’s how UGA lists them by height and weight:
• Brock Bowers, 6-4, 230 sophomore
• Darnell Washington, 6-7, 265 junior
• Arik Gilbert, 6-5, 248 redshirt sophomore
• Oscar Delp, 6-5, 225 freshman
• Ryland Goede, 6-6, 240 junior
• Brett Seither, 6-5, 228, junior
Many have asked Smart how many tight ends he can get on the field at one time — three seems likely, perhaps even in the opening game with Oregon on Sept. 3.
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Bowers, in one game alone, had 10 catches for 139 yards and a TD in the 41-24 loss to Alabama in the SEC title game.
Gilbert sat out last season while dealing with a personal issue after his high-profile transfer from LSU, where he originally signed coming out of Marietta High School.
Monken made it clear Gilbert in the G-Day Game that Gilbert would be a red zone threat, targeting him four times near the goal line. The result was Gilbert catching three passes for 49 yards and two touchdowns — and drawing two pass interference penalties in the end zone.
Gilbert proves popular red zone target in G-Day Game
Gilbert had reportedly seen his weight balloon up around 300 pounds after taking last season off, but by rejoining daily team activities in January, he worked himself back down near 265 pounds.
Bowers has been the most notable of the group to this point, having set a new school record with 13 TD catches last season while making 56 catches for 882 yards.
The receiver position is almost an afterthought in the UGA offense, with Bowers’ production essentially equaling what the top two wideouts combined produced (Ladd McConkey 31-447, Adonai Mitchell 29-426).
It’s possible former 5-star recruits Gilbert and Washington will come to fruition this season and post All-American numbers of their own, with Gilbert much more of a pass-catching tight end while the 6-foot-7, 265-pound Washington is more of the prototypical dual-threat at the position.
Delp did his best impression of Bowers in the spring G-Day Game, catching showing impressive hands while trucking a would-be tackler.
Smart is also high on Goede (6-6, 240) and Seither (6-5, 228), who have the sort of talents to start in most Power 5 programs.
“Ryland Goede is coming off of some injuries,” Smart shared, “and then Brett Seither had his best spring, a young man we signed a couple of years ago. What I really like is the competition within that room.”
Smart likes the notion of big, fast and athletic football players in, general.
But also, on his special teams units, where Georgia lost several major contributors after a record-15 Bulldogs were selected in the 2022 NFL Draft.
“We’re trying to find roles on special teams so they can go out and help there as well, and steal some more snaps because we lost three linebackers that got drafted from inside backer,” said Smart, referring to first-round pick Quay Walker and third-round picks Nakobe Dean and Channing Tindall.
“It’s rare to find three inside backers that got drafted in the third round or better, we’re losing a lot of special teams snaps out of those guys, so the tight ends have to cover that up.”