ATHENS — Smack dab in the middle of the offseason, Georgia football fans are growing restless, the social media trolling from rival fanbases reaching its peak.
Whether it’s talk about Kirby Smart not being able to win big games (He’s 10-6 against Top 10 teams), or develop talent (UGA just had a record nine players drafted, 10 or more will be selected in 2022) or the worn-out “1980” taunt, most would agree football season can’t get here soon enough.
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The Bulldogs officially concluded spring drills on April 17 with some promising performances in the G-Day Game, most notably quarterback JT Daniels.
Daniels, the former USC quarterback and 5-star prospect from Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif., was 28-of-41 passing for 324 yards with 3 touchdowns against a defense that had worked against him all spring.
There have been plenty of headlines since the spring game at Sanford Stadium left Bulldogs’ fans yearning for more.
Here’s a look at the three major categories of offseason activity, and how they grade out with the team easing into voluntary offseason workouts, and the start of summer classes on Friday.
NCAA transfer portal (A-)
Arik Gilbert, Derion Kendrick and Tykee Smith were all huge additions, to the extent they are all potential All-SEC type players.
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Kendrick and Smith already earned honors in their respective conferences, Kendrick in the ACC at Clemson, and Smith in the Big 12 at West Virginia. Gilbert was thriving in the LSU offense before he grew homesick to return to Georgia, where he starred at Marietta High School.
The last time anyone heard from Alabama transfer Brandon Turnage he was on Twitter telling fans to “relax” after reports he wasn’t with the team. On Tuesday the first official roster came out and Turnage wasn’t on it, perhaps feeling expendable after UGA added Kendrick from the portal.
Roster update: No sign of Alabama transfer Brandon Turnage
The biggest loss in the portal, and the reason for the “minus” behind an otherwise sterling “A,” was Major Burns decision to return to his home state of Louisiana and transfer to LSU. Burns wasn’t projected to start at safety, but he was considered next man up and would have been a valuable piece to the secondary the next three seasons.
It’s a win for Georgia there have been no defections in the star-studded offensive line room or in the running backs room, where Zamir White’s decision to return has created concern over how carries will be split.
Everyone is saying the right things, but at the end of the day, the reason players choose to play running back is their love of carrying the football — not playing special teams or taking mental reps.
Georgia dropped from No. 1 in the team rankings to No. 4 after the de-commitments of 5-star prospects Bear Alexander and Deyon Bouie, news that registered high enough on the offseason scale to trigger an ESPN headline and questions of concern in the fanbase.
Immediate speculation swirled that Georgia’s decision not to keep popular graduate assistant and budding coaching prospect Nick Williams in the fold was coming back to bite the program
Alexander and Bouie both de-committed from the Bulldogs after visiting Texas A&M, which hired Williams to a defensive analyst role this offseason.
RELATED: Bear Alexander, who said he bled Georgia team colors, de-commits
Losing Williams certainly couldn’t have been a matter of money, because Georgia annually has one of the top revenue-producing athletic departments in the nation.
The Bulldogs opened a new $80 million football building, but instead of building on the recruiting momentum when campuses opened for official visits, UGA has taken a half step back.
RELATED: Sanford Stadium lights up red, new building opens to prospects
There’s still plenty of time for Georgia to recover with early signing day six months away.
But it does seem time for Georgia’s investment in former Alabama strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran to start paying off beyond his role with special teams.
WATCH: Scott Cochran, Georgia’s ‘rock star’ offseason hire from Alabama
Team chemistry (A)
The whole “iron sharpens iron” concept is in play. Former 5-star prospects quickly realize their high school ratings and accomplishments carry no equity. UGA will continue to recruit elite talent at each position regardless of how stacked it might appear in various position groups.s.
The whole “iron sharpens iron” concept is in play. Former 5-star prospects quickly realize their high school ratings and accomplishments carry no equity. UGA will continue to recruit elite talent at each position regardless of how stacked it might appear in various position groups.
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Daniels invited his receiving corps to spend time with him in California for some extra work, along with fun in the sun and team bonding. From all accounts, it was a success, with starting receiver Jermaine Burton and freshman Adonai Mitchell staying the duration.
Meanwhile, other UGA players stayed in Athens during May, working to perfect their craft or making sure to stay on optimal rehabilitation schedules to be ready for fall drills.
Team chemistry is an area Kirby Smart invested in with scheduled skull sessions and a player-led leadership group keeping the Bulldogs together throughout a turbulent 2020 and into this past offseason.
RELATED: Jamaree Salyer explains how leadership group keeps team aligned