The Bulldogs are through their first seven games of the season. It is Florida week.

It is an optimal time to take a look at how the most recent Georgia football recruiting classes have shaped the product on the field during the current season.

The 2023 ‘Dawgs have reached the point where anytime a true freshman becomes a regular starter, it is a very big deal.

In years past, when a true freshman started for the ‘Dawgs, it always meant the first-year player was a very good player. But it also reflected something was lacking with the upperclassmen and the roster depth from the previous years on the current team. The Southeastern Conference is very much a grown-man league.

It still happened with the really special players.

Sophomore safety Malaki Starks started 14 of the 15 games last season and never really looked back after that interception against Oregon.

The ‘Dawgs that start now as true freshmen really have to earn it. It is also the result of the next-man-up culture established when injuries always occur.

It seems unlikely we’ll ever see freshmen starters regularly in the trenches for the foreseeable future. Sophomore DE Mykel Williams started two games for the Bulldogs in 2022 and it felt like he saw more starts than that given the impact he made last fall.

There hasn’t really been a comparable starting-level contributor on this year’s team quite like Starks and Williams were last season. Freshman kicker Peyton Woodring is the lone exception.

Woodring has been the definition of consistent after early hiccups against Ball State and South Carolina. The former No. 1 PK in the country has won three Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week honors since that early stretch.

Here are a few quick ways to check out the impact the 2023 class has made on the season so far.

Played in every game

  • Safety Joenel Aguero
  • LB CJ Allen
  • PK Peyton Woodring

Freshmen Bulldogs that have made the biggest impact so far

This list is constantly evolving, but here’s a good look at the true freshmen who have made the biggest contributions up to this point of the 2023 season.

100723 Athens: Georgia kicker Peyton Woodring makes a field goal against Kentucky during the second half in a NCAA college football game on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, in Athens. Curtis Compton for the Atlanta Journal Constitution (Curtis Compton/AJC Freelancer)

Freshman PK Peyton Woodring

  • Woodring leads the team in scoring with 71 points. He’s 35-for-35 on his extra points. He’s drilled 12 of his 15 field goal tries. His freshman-year surge has seen him go 3-for-3 on field goals against Kentucky and Vanderbilt. That came after a clutch 2-for-2 day in his first SEC road game at Auburn.
  • He’s tied for third in the SEC with 12 field goals and is also third in the conference with his 71 points.

Freshman LB CJ Allen

  • Allen has 10 tackles and has started to show up very early in games over the last few weeks. We’ve seen him in as early as the second series in some games. His 10 tackles are tied for 10th on the team.
  • The freshman from Lamar County has capable returning starters Jamon Dumas-Johnson and Smael Mondon Jr. ahead of him but he looks ready to take on a bigger slab of reps over the next five games.

Freshman OT Monroe Freeling

  • Freeling’s impact on the team has surged during the last two weeks. He played major minutes at Vanderbilt after Xavier Truss went down with an ankle injury. We’ll have to watch the status of Truss and how quickly projected NFL first-round pick Amarius Mims returns from his tightrope ankle surgery in practices this week. If those two fellas aren’t ready to roll against the Gators, Freeling could earn his first start of his UGA career in Jacksonville.

Freshman CB AJ Harris

  • The prized CB signee from Alabama is averaging one tackle per game this season. There has been an ongoing battle for the starting CB spot opposite Kamari Lassiter between 2022 signees Daylen Everette and Julian Humphrey. That said, Harris has remained in the mix. He’s seen consistent time in the third and fourth quarters of games the ‘Dawgs have in hand. He’s been a special teams regular.

Freshman S Joenel Aguero

  • Aguero is one of the three 2023 signees who have seen action in every game. He has six tackles, one TFL and a PBU. He’s fast and physical and has a very bright future. He’s capable of producing multiple flash plays per game on the back end and also flying downhill into the box.

Freshman RB Roderick Robinson

  • This update feels a lot like the one for Freeling. The freshman back from San Diego is in line for a bigger role down the stretch. Robinson hasn’t played since the South Carolina game due to a lingering ankle sprain. Prior to that, he scored two touchdowns in the first three games. Kirby Smart gave an encouraging update on Robinson at his Monday press conference leading off Florida week. He said Robinson got significant practice reps last week. “Rod was able to go a lot last week,” Smart said.
  • Prior to that setback in the third game, the 240-pound freshman had piled up 89 yards on 15 carries with two scores. Those carries were good for 5.9 yards per attempt and he’s still fifth on the team in rushing yards for the season.

Freshman DE/DL Gabe Harris

  • The Georgia native has not seen action in every game but does have four tackles and his two tackles for losses place him in a tie for seventh on the team. Harris is an interesting case because his future role could evolve based on how his body develops. He was ranked as an EDGE in high school but could develop to see time as a DE or perhaps as a 4i or 5 tech for the ‘Dawgs down the road. That “4i’ spot is an area where the ‘Dawgs will need a talented player like Harris in the future once Williams leaves for the NFL.

Redshirts already gone for the 2023 season

This list is rather simple.

Per NCAA rules, if a player sees on-field action in four games of any season, then they cannot use a redshirt to gain an extra year of eligibility for that season.

  • Safety Joenel Aguero (7 games)
  • LB CJ Allen (7 games)
  • PK Peyton Woodring (7 games)
  • CB AJ Harris (6 games)
  • EDGE Damon Wilson (6 games)
  • OT Monroe Freeling (5 games)
  • DL Jordan “Big Baby” Hall (5 games)
  • DE Gabe Harris (5 games)
  • LB Raylen Wilson (5 games)

Check out the full DawgNation participation report for the 2023 class below.

PlayerGames playedProspect ranking
S Joenel Aguero75-star / No. 3 S / No. 37 overall
LB CJ Allen74-star / No. 5 LB / No. 72 overall
LB Troy Bowles34-star / No. 6 LB / No. 80 overall
WR Anthony Evans III34-star / No. 29 WR / No. 208 overall
OT Monroe Freeling55-star / No. 5 OT / No. 32 overall
DT Jordan Hall55-star / No. 4 DL/ No. 39 overall
CB AJ Harris64-star / No. 3 CB / No. 41 overall
CB Daniel Harris34-star / No. 19 CB / No. 163 overall
DE Gabe Harris54-star / No. 12 EDGE / No. 65 overall
WR Zeed Haynes44-star / No. 27 WR / No. 199 overall
OT Bo Hughley04-star / No. 11 OT / No. 110 overall
DT Jamaal Jarrett34-star / No. 18 DL / No. 176 overall
DB Kyron Jones33-star / No. 46 RB / No. 667 overall
TE Lawson Luckie24-star / No. 8 TE / No. 144 overall
OT Jamal Meriweather03-star / No. 31 OT / No. 479 overall
IOL Joshua Miller03-star / No. 57 IOL / No. 654 overall
EDGE Sam M’Pemba44-star / No. 8 EDGE / No. 47 overall
DB Chris Peal04-star / No. 22 CB / No. 183 overall
DB Justyn Rhett24-star / No. 38 CB / No. 374 overall
RB Roderick Robinson34-star / No. 14 RB / No. 192 overall
IOL Kelton Smith04-star / No. 10 IOL / No. 210 overall
LS Will Snellings1PWO Long Snapper
TE Pearce Spurlin III34-star / No. 2 TE / No. 76 overall
WR Tyler Williams24-star / No. 17 WR / No. 93 overall
EDGE Damon Wilson65-star / No. 3 EDGE / No. 20 overall
LB Raylen Wilson55-star / Nation’s No. 3 LB / No. 27 overall
PK Peyton Woodring73-star / No. 1 PK / No. 1827 overall

Did you know the weekly “Before the Hedges” program is available as an Apple podcast? Click to check it out and download it.

Check the season participation for the 2022 Georgia football signing class

The median of the season also offers the chance to take a good look at the 2022 signing class and how they are faring through their first two seasons in Athens.

As it stands now, it looks like the ‘Dawgs are getting quality contributions each week from half of their 30 signees from the 2022 cycle. While that might not sound like a lot, bear in mind the Bulldogs have already seen seven members of that class leave the program for a variety of reasons.

  • DT Bear Alexander (Transfer to USC)
  • CB Jahiem Singletary (Transfer to Arkansas)
  • LB CJ Washington (Likely career-ending neck injury)
  • DB Marcus Washington Jr. (Transfer to Louisville)
  • DL Shone Washington (Transfer portal)
  • OT Jacob Hood (Transfer to Nebraska)
  • IOL Griffin Scroggs (Transfer to Appalachian State)

There is a season-ending injury from highly-regarded sophomore RB Branson Robinson to consider as well.

That’s the not-so-good, but the proper balance to the 2022 class perspective is to also note the Bulldogs are getting starter-level contributions from 10 members of this class in just their second season with the team.

That’s not the easiest thing to do in the SEC, much less on a back-to-back defending national championship roster that still ranks as the No. 1 team in the country.

There’s a potential All-American in this group in Malaki Starks and another potential All-SEC player in sophomore DE Mykel Williams. Everette has proven to be a very capable SEC starter. The big pass breakup he made against Auburn was as clutch as it gets.

Earnest Greene III has started every game for the ‘Dawgs at the vital left tackle spot and Oscar Delp’s role on the team becomes even more super-sized after the Brock Bowers injury. Every time we see Jalon Walker make a play, we realize that he is capable of so many more for this defense.

Walker is working both at LB and as an EDGE rusher on third downs for the ‘Dawgs. It takes a very diverse skill set to do both of those things for the Georgia football defense.

PlayerGames this seasonGames played (2022)HS rankings
S Malaki Starks7 (Starter)15 (Starter)No. 1 ATH
DE Mykel Williams6 (Starter)15No. 2 DL
CB Daylen Everette7 (Starter)14No. 6 CB
EDGE Marvin Jones Jr.613No. 3 EDGE
LB Jalon Walker715No. 4 LB
TE Oscar Delp7 (Starter)13No. 2 TE
OT Earnest Greene III7 (Starter)DNP to injury (Redshirt)No. 2 IOL
CB Julian Humphrey63 (Redshirt)No. 9 CB
QB Gunner Stockton30 (Redshirt)No. 7 QB
RB Branson RobinsonOut for the year (Redshirt)12No. 4 RB
DL Christen Miller74 (Redshirt)No. 15 DL
EDGE Darris Smith511No. 14 EDGE
EDGE CJ Madden51 (Redshirt)No. 29 EDGE
WR De’Nylon Morrissette111No. 35 WR
DB JaCorey Thomas66No. 25 S
LB EJ Lightsey04 (Redshirt)No. 48 LB
RB/WR Dillon Bell715No. 68 WR
WR CJ Smith715No. 34 WR
WR Cole Speer36 No. 103 WR
IOL Alou Bah10 (Redshirt)No. 30 OT
RB Andrew Paul40 (Injury/Redshirt)No. 42 RB
IOL Drew Bobo33 (Redshirt)No. 54 OT
P Brett Thorson614No. 1 P

Have you subscribed to the DawgNation YouTube channel yet? If so, you will be able to see special 1-on-1 content with key 2024 prospects like Daniel Calhoun, Dwight Phillips Jr., Dylan Raiola and Sacovie White.


(check on the recent reads on Georgia football recruiting)