The best of DawgNation: 2021 roster updates, Dylan Fairchild dominates wrestling championships
The University of Georgia updated its roster for the 2021 season. In the process, we learned that defensive tackle Julian Rochester and wide receiver Demetris Robertson would be returning for the fall season.
The updated roster did give us a better idea as to where Georgia sits with its scholarship count. Per the unofficial DawgNation tabulation, the Bulldogs have 83 scholarship players at the moment. With Robertson and Rochester not counting towards the fall total due to the NCAA granting an extra year of eligibility due to the pandemic, along with those of Justin Shaffer and Devonte Wyatt, Georgia will still be at 83 scholarships once the final four signees from the 2021 recruiting class arrive on campus.
The most scholarship players a team is allowed to have is 85. This means Georgia does have room to add to its roster.
DawgNation’s Connor Riley goes through how Georgia could help address some of its needs now that it knows how many players it can take.
The most obvious way Georgia could add to its scholarship total would be through the transfer portal. In each of the past two seasons, Georgia has landed at least two players out of the transfer portal, with the Bulldogs bringing in Jamie Newman, Tre’ McKitty and JT Daniels last offseason.
Among the positions of need for Georgia, cornerback is the most apparent. Following the departures of Eric Stokes, Tyson Campbell, DJ Daniel and Tyrique Stevenson, Georgia enters the 2021 season with zero career starts at the cornerback position among players on its active roster.
The Bulldogs have talent at the position such as former blue-chip recruits Kelee Ringo, Jalen Kimber and Nyland Green. But Georgia is looking for a more proven player at the position so that Georgia doesn’t inexperience at the position.
“It’s a position that needs to be developed, we have some guys that we’ve been developing that need to step up and play,” Kirby Smart said on National Signing Day. ” We’ve also got some young guys that we’ve signed that we just talked about that will have to grow quickly and will get an opportunity to compete for positions.
“We certainly have availability at that spot and we certainly knew that was coming for a long time, because we had some talented players that we knew were going to have the ability to leave as juniors.”
In addition to the transfer portal, Georgia could also add another commitment from the 2021 recruiting cycle. There is also the possibility that Georgia gives one of its walk-ons a scholarship, such as starting kicker Jack Podlesny.
Dylan Fairchild dominates wrestling championships, again
Dylan Fairchild is Georgia’s highest-rated signee that did not enroll early at Georgia. He’s the No. 98 overall player in the 2021 recruiting cycle. But he had a pretty good reason as to why he stuck around high school.
Fairchild was the defending state champion in his weight class. He wanted to wrestle during his senior season at West Forsyth High School and continue his dominance on the mat. He did just that, finishing his senior campaign with 22 wins in 22 matches. He repeated as state champion in the 285-pound weight class.
DawgNation’s Jeff Sentell was on hand to document Fairchild’s excellence at the state championship meets.
The 6-foot-5, 285-pound Fairchild tore through the GHSA’s best heavyweights in the largest classification for the last two years. He finished his senior season with 22 wins in 22 matches with 22 pins. He pinned his man in the state final in 25 seconds.
That came after he dropped down 20 pounds from the 305 he played at during his last football season at West Forsyth High School.
Check out the championship bout below. The video at the end of the match showed off his showmanship. When he was set to lock down the pin, that trusty headgear went flying off.
Congrats to All-American Georgia football signee @DylanFairchild6 for his assault on the 7A state heavyweight wrestling bracket this weekend. Mr. Fairchild is a dominant 2-time state champ. That kiss at the end was like something @RicFlairNatrBoy would do. pic.twitter.com/WnvWnSOQml
— Jeff Sentell (@jeffsentell) February 13, 2021
Then he started smiling. It brought to mind Heath Ledger’s Joker character from “The Dark Knight” movie. The finishing move he applied was a go-to weapon from his arsenal.
He’s got tools like “The Bulldog” and “The Alligator Roll” and a “Cement Mixer” but the finishing move to Fairchild’s wrestling career on the mats on The Macon Centreplex was what he calls a “Strait-Jacket.”
“I knew once I get that strait-jacket and I get that trip if it is clean then normally I mean it is over,” Fairchild said. “It is wrapped up.”
It was crazy to think that anyone was going to escape that hold.
Fairchild was one of four offensive line signees in the 2021 recruiting cycle. He will most likely play at guard at the next level for the Bulldogs.
Nakobe Dean, Kendall Milton earn recognition in the classroom
Nakobe Dean and Kendall Milton both turned heads on the field last season with their play. Dean was the leading tackler for the Bulldogs and seems poised to have a breakout junior season.
Milton flashed as a freshman, even if he did miss three games due to a knee injury. Even in a crowded backfield, Milton’s future looks very bright.
And those two Bulldogs didn’t just get things done on the football field this fall, as they also shined in the classroom. DawgNation’s Mike Griffith provided insight into the honors the two Bulldogs earned for their studies.
Milton and Dean were among 27 Bulldogs to earn a place on the Fall SEC Honor Roll announced earlier this week, along with All-American punter Jake Camarda and Peach Bowl Offensive MVP Jack Podlesny.
Milton flashed brilliance at times last season, establishing himself as the most powerful of the Georgia runners in a crowded backfield.
It will be an important spring for the rising sophomore from California, who didn’t have the benefit of spring drills last season on account of the Covid-19 pandemic, and then was limited in fall drills by a pulled hamstring.
Dean, meanwhile, will be limited in spring drills after undergoing labrum surgery after playing hurt the final three games of the season..
Dean showed the signs of what made him a 5-star prospect and likely team captain last season with a three-game stretch of double-digit tackles. The former Horn Lake (Miss.) High School standout posted 14 tackles against Kentucky, 15 tackles against Florida and 12 tackles in the win over Mississippi State.
Left tackle shaping up to be a big position battle
Georgia has a number of big position battles that will need to be sorted out before Georgia takes on Clemson on Sept. 4. And perhaps the most important position that needs to be solved is that of left tackle.
The Bulldogs have recruited extremely well on the offensive line in recent cycles and have a number of options to turn to. Whether it be Jamaree Salyer, Warren McClendon or even freshman Amarius Mims, Georgia needs someone to step up and win the job.
DawgNation’s Brandon Adams and Connor Riley discuss the position and why it is so crucial for Georgia’s championship hopes.
Which position battle do you think is the most important for Georgia? pic.twitter.com/u9qMvg3sN9
— DawgNation (@DawgNation) February 9, 2021
Some of the other position battles to watch include center, inside linebacker and both cornerback spots. Georgia is set to start spring practice in March and hold G-Day on April 17.