ATHENS — Georgia football stock might have fallen since last January, but there’s an entire season ahead for the Bulldogs to work back into championship form.
Kirby Smart likes to remind everyone it’s a process that takes one day at a time, and the work is being put in to build another elite football team.
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The No. 3-ranked Bulldogs are less than two weeks away from their season-opening game against No. 11 Oregon at 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 3 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Smart has seen many positive signs that his young and reloaded football team is responding to tough workouts in the Athens heat and humidity.
Here’s a look at how some of the players are responding, most rising to the challenges that Smart puts before them:
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Broderick Jones is asserting himself like Smart envisioned when he landed the 5-star prospect. An All-American season could be in the cards for the left tackle.
Kamari Lassiter: When the head coach calls a second-year player a leader, that’s a good sign. Even better when the head coach is working with that position group most days.
Maliki Starks: When the head coach singles out a true freshman in consecutive press conferences, that’s a good sign. Even better when the head coach is working with that position group most days. (Yes, I know what I did there).
Kenny McIntosh: Everyone knows how good McIntosh has been with breakaway runs and clutch catches in each of the past two postseasons. McIntosh has a chance to be just the second All-SEC back Dell McGee has recruited in six years.
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Brock Vandagriff: Suddenly the No. 2 quarterback job is situational? That’s marked progress for Vandagriff, who is seeing things more clearly and brings great running ability and a strong arm to the position.
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Daijun Edwards has just kept his legs churning and his weight falling forward, and now he finds himself in a position to get a respectable workload when games are in the balance.
Dominick Blaylock has soldiered through two ACL injuries and a bad hamstring, and now he’s back making plays again. Blaylock is a crafty receiver with good hands who finds ways to get open.
Branson Robinson has put his work into the weight room, to the extent McGee actually put him in the sentence with Nick Chubb. Robinson has a chance to capitalize on the lack of depth.
Kendall Milton has appeared to be one of the most dynamic runners in the SEC when healthy, but the opportunities during those times were few and far between. Milton will be a key piece this season once healed.
Jack Podlesny At the end of the day, Podlesny’s numbers and performances always seem to add up, but he’s off to a slow start in fall camp. There’s enough competition at the position that he’ll be pushed.