A former Georgia tight end who set a standard for excellence at the position joined DawgNation Daily this week, and discussed why he’s got high hopes for a newcomer to the program.
Troy Sadowski thinks the UGA offense — led by new coordinator Todd Monken — could be a good fit for recent five-star signee Darnell Washington.
“Bringing in a guy like Darnell Washington and his skill set and abilities, they have that opportunity to maybe go with a one tight end formation and flex him out a little bit,” Sadowski said. “I mean you’re talking about six feet eight inches and 260 pounds. That’s a pretty big target.”
Washington’s size is indeed noticeable, and that’s one of the reasons expectations are high for him.
His arrival to UGA also comes at a good time given that tight end is a position of need after some recent departures — a fact of which Washington is well aware.
“I think I can play and help out a lot,” Washington recently told DawgNation. “They’re losing two good tight ends and they’re going to gain a great one, so I think I can help out.”
It sounds like Sadowski thinks that too, and he would know. Sadowski was a Walter Camp Football Foundation All-American in 1988 before spending nine years in the NFL. However, Sadowski is quick to point out that the tight end position looked different when he was at UGA.
“When I was there we were blockers first and receivers second, and we knew that and accepted our role in the offense,” Sadowski said. “It’s kind of evolved a little over time.”
Washington might represent the next phase of that evolution. But for some UGA fans, the tight end position hasn’t evolved quickly enough.
The Bulldogs have excelled in many areas during the Kirby Smart era, but the passing offense hasn’t always been one of those, and that has left a few tight ends wondering about their role at UGA — including other elite recruits from the 2020 class.
In addition to pursuing Washington, UGA tight ends coach Todd Hartley also recruited Arik Gilbert, a five-star athlete from Marietta, Ga. and Theo Johnson, a highly-regarded four-star. In the end, both Gilbert and Johnson landed elsewhere and skepticism about UGA’s offense seemingly played into their decisions.
“I told coach Hartley, ‘I just don’t know how much I’m going to be developed as a tight end.’ If you can show me that then I won’t have any doubts,” Johnson recently told DawgNation. “But I had a lot of doubts. It was tough making that leap.”
Similarly, Gilbert expressed concerns during his recruitment about whether UGA’s tight end routes were as sophisticated as he wanted them to be.
Washington doesn’t seem to have those reservations, and Sadowski laid out what tight ends — including Washington — will need to do to change the position’s reputation at UGA for the next generation of elite recruits.
“Can they create separation? Can they give the quarterback a good look when they’re coming out of their break? That’s what you see Alabama, Oklahoma and LSU doing,” Sadowski said. “[They’re] Creating separation and making it an easy throw for the quarterback, and the quarterback is getting the ball in the hands of the guys who can make things happen.
“That’s one of the the things I’d like to see Georgia do more — get the ball in the hands of the guys that can run with the ball after the catch.”
Washington might possess the athleticism to be one of those guys for the Bulldogs, and he might not be the only tight end for whom that statement could prove true.
UGA also has promising prospects on the roster such as former four-star signees John FitzPatrick and Ryland Goede, redshirt freshman Brett Seither and Tre’ McKitty — a grad transfer from Florida State.
“With what we have on our roster, we just need to get them coached up,” Sadowski said. “That’s the biggest part. Kirby Smart and his staff have done a phenomenal job about going out there and recruiting and getting these guys to come in, but once you get them on campus you’ve got to coach them up.”