ATHENS — Georgia football coach Kirby Smart made it clear his policy is to build and develop his program from within, but there are also times when bringing in a transfer makes sense.
It’s certainly an issue for the Bulldogs this offseason, with nine players having either transferred out of the secondary or moved on to the NFL since the end of the 2019 season, leaving UGA with a notable lack of experience and depth.
“It’s not the primary source of finding football players; we want to recruit, develop, and work to get the best football players we possibly can in here,” Smart said on Tuesday on his spring football preview Zoom call.
“It’s not what we want to build our program based around. It’s a need-based deal … defensive back is a spot that we’re thin at. We think that we have very capable, good young players in the position, but we don’t have a lot of experience.”
Smart used the addition of transfer Maurice Smith as an example of bringing in a veteran player that could beef up the experience level and make an impact.
The Bulldogs are expected to contend for the SEC championship next season as well as a College Football Playoff spot, leading to their projected preseason Top 5 ranking.
Georgia opens spring drills in earnest on March 16 leading up to the annual G-Day Game on April 17.
The team has worked to improve during the offseason with walk-through sessions deemed allowable by the NCAA, and it has led to some players experimenting in different areas and getting off to fast starts:
1. Adam Anderson – he’s everywhere
Anderson is a 6-foot-5, 230-pound senior from Rome, Ga., who appears on the verge of a breakout season that would measure up to his 5-star prep ranking and status as the No. 1 outside linebacker and No. 18 overall player in the 2018 signing class.
Long, explosive and athletic, Anderson has already shown his skills as a pass rusher with 6.5 sacks last season in 10 games.
Anderson has mostly been used as a pass rusher and “spy” for opposing mobile quarterbacks. But defensive coordinator Dan Lanning likes to experiment with players, and Anderson has been getting moved around on defense.
The Bulldogs are always looking for ways to maximize players’ talents, and Anderson has grown into a versatile player.
2. Brock Bowers — sudden impact
All the tight end talk last year was about 2020
class 5-star signee Darnell Washington, and most of the Georgia tight end talk this spring involved the Bulldogs changes at landing former LSU tight end Arik Gilbert.
In the meantime, Bowers is more than living up to his rank as the No. 3 overall tight end in the nation in the 2021 signing class, impressing during workouts per sources close to the team.
The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Bowers as dubbed the “Unicorn” in the 2021 signing class on account of the rare combination of attributes he brings, including a laser-timed 40-yard dash of 4.5 and a 40-inch-plus vertical jump.
3. Lovasea Carroll — eager to compete
Carroll, a gifted running back from Warrenton, Ga., who attended the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., boldly signed on to a loaded UGA running backs room in the 2021 class.
Some thought redshirt juniors Zamir White and/or James Cook might be ready to leave for the NFL, but when both players opted to stay, the depth chart got particularly crowded with six capable tailbacks.
Carroll has experimented with time in the secondary where the Bulldogs have a great need after underclassmen Eric Stokes and Tyson Campbell joined departing seniors Richard LeCounte and DJ Daniel in making themselves eligible for the NFL draft.
Smart and Georgia pledge to look inward first, and with Carroll a phenomenal young player buried on the depth chart, there’s no reason not to do some experimenting in the spring even if he does ultimately get moved back to running back.