Return of Sedrick Van Pran is a championship-making difference for Georgia football

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Sedrick Van Pran-Granger (Jeff Sentell/ DawgNation)

ATHENS — Georgia could not have gotten better news than it did on Friday when starting center Sedrick Van Pran announced he was returning to Georgia for another season.

Van Pran had been mentioned as one of the top draft-eligible center prospects, with all four of ESPN’s draft analysts listing him as the No. 3 overall center for the 2023 NFL Draft. But instead of suiting up on Sundays, Van Pran will be coming back for his third season as a starter at Georgia as the team’s center.

Van Pran was one of four permanent captains on Georgia’s 2022 team, along with Nolan Smith, Chris Smith and Stetson Bennett. Those three are all departing for the NFL, but Van Pran will be back guiding Georgia through another season.

“I would like to think I’m pretty good at communicating and changing things based on my football intelligence,” Van Pran said prior to the national championship win over TCU. “I think Coach Monken and Stetson they trust me enough to give me the freedom to see certain things and go from there. I think I do a pretty good job.”

With Van Pran already having seen plenty of SEC football — he’s started 30 games for Georgia over the past two seasons — he’s going to make life easier for whoever will replace Bennett as the starting quarterback. Neither Carson Beck, Brock Vandagriff or Gunner Stockton have ever started a game at Georgia.

Getting Van Pran back is going to make that transition all the easier. It’s worth pointing out Bennett was a Heisman finalist and accounted for 37 touchdowns a season ago. He is not the easiest player to replace given his wealth of football experience.

Every championship team needs players who are willing to put off the NFL for one more season. Jordan Davis did that for the 2021 Georgia football team. Both Smiths did so for Georgia in 2022.

Van Pran fills that role for the Bulldogs in 2023. Georgia will have to replace some talented players and key leaders as the Bulldogs aim to win a third-consecutive championship. Carter, Jones and Ringo are future first-round picks for a reason.

That’s something that has never been done in the modern history of college football.

“We’ll have a lot of guys coming back. We’ll lose some really talented guys, probably lose some juniors,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said after the national championship game. “But the disease that creeps into your program is called entitlement. I’ve seen it firsthand.

“If you can stomp it out with leadership, then you can stay hungry. And we have a saying around our place: We eat off the floor. And if you’re willing to eat off the floor, you can be special.”

Van Pran wasn’t one of the juniors Georgia lost. He’s already a key leader that should somehow have an even bigger voice on next season’s team, if it at all possible.

And we know that Van Pran is special. He’s already proven that in his first three years on campus. He’ll now look to do so again for the Bulldogs in 2023 as the face, and voice, of the team.

Return of Sedrick Van Pran provides huge boost for Georgia football

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