ATHENS — It’s a college football free-for-all with players and coaches coming and going at a breakneck pace.
The head coaching changes get the most attention, each one with a chain reaction affecting the next program (and the next program) as newly hired coaches look to fill out their staffs.
Player retention and player attrition are historically fluid with transfer rules more tolerant than ever, and dozens of underclassmen declaring themselves eligible for the 2021 NFL Draft.
RELATED: The most important NFL draft decisions remaining at Georgia
If Coach Kirby Smart could clone himself right now, he would, as the Bulldogs figure to be as active as ever on all fronts during this period of heavy transition.
No doubt, it’s a time that makes most agree that major college football needs a commissioner and regimented dates for transfers and player decelerations to take place.
Georgia football could have the look of a preseason national championship contender depending on what players will do with their futures.
The Bulldogs, like everyone else, have their wish list for players coming and going, but two current players stand out above all in the retention cycle: Quarterback JT Daniels and defensive tackle Jordan Davis.
Neither Daniels nor Davis have declared their intentions they are coming back.
Here’s what we’re hearing about each of the underclassmen:
There has been great optimism Daniels is coming back and an official announcement could soon be forthcoming. Daniels has been a game-changer for the offense, and his relationship with Todd Monken makes him likely to return.
Offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer is another key underclassman who is believed to be returning for another season, moving inside to his more natural position of offensive guard after playing left tackle last season. Salyer figures to stay and improve his draft stock greatly.
Davis has swung both ways on going pro according to those close to the program. There was more optimism that he would return before his dominant performance in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. Georgia has some work to do re-recruiting Davis if he’s to stay.
There has been speculation that running back James Cook is more inclined to return for another season than fellow junior running back Zamir White.
Cook, an excellent pass catcher and runner in space, is better suited to Todd Monken’s offensive scheme, which includes several Air Raid principles. It’s hard to know how the sudden death of Cook’s father might affect his decision, if at all, leaving this one a toss-up.
White has overcome surgeries on both of his knees and handled the bulk of the carries this past season, putting together enough of a resume to go pro or impress a school in need of a transfer running back. White wouldn’t seem to be in position for as much work in the Georgia offense in 2021 with freshman Kendall Milton emerging alongside versatile sophomore Kenny McIntosh, making it more likely than not he departs.
Junior cornerback Tyson Campbell has the measurables the NFL likes, but his season performance in 2020 didn’t match up. Campbell is an example of the sort of player Alabama keeps for another year and turns into a first-round NFL Draft pick. Campbell may be ready to go, however, so his decision is believed to be up in the air.
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