Georgia defensive lineman Nazir Stackhouse, who announced he's returning for the 2023 season, celebrates in the closing minutes of their win against TCU in the 2023 College Football Playoff National Championship at SoFi Stadium, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Ca. Georgia won 59-7. (Jason Getz /

Georgia embraces three-peat challenge: ‘We might be better than we were this year’

INGLEWOOD, Calif. — Georgia players took in a well-deserved celebration Monday night, their 65-7 win over TCU one of historic and undeniable proportion.

It was a two-peat for the Bulldogs — not a repeat, as Coach Kirby Smart reminded everyone, because this year’s team was treated as it’s own separate entity.

So even as the music beat steadily in the locker room and cigar smoke wafted through the air, the next Georgia football team began to share visions of 2023.

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“Man, I don’t want to talk too much,” said Arian Smith, perhaps the fastest receiver in college football, “but we might be better than we were this year.”

It’s an ambitious concept when one considers Georgia just finished the program’s only 15-0 season while becoming the first-ever team to repeat in this four-team College Football Playoff Era.

But as team captain and returning middle linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson pointed out, there’s also no reason to believe Georgia can’t three-peat.

“It doesn’t change the message, we’re still hunting man, who says you do two and you’re done?” Dumas-Johnson said.

“If we can do three, we’re going to do three, and if we can do four, we’re going to do four.”

RELATED: Kirby Smart says Georgia started and finished year as hunters

Georgia offensive tackle Amarius Mims, another of the 5-star prospects who grew into a dominator in 2022, emphasized the belief the Bulldogs have in one another.

“We got whatever it takes, and I believe in these guys, they believe in me, and we all believe in these coaches, and they believe in us,” Mims said. “The sky is the limit for us. We can do it again

“When you have a group of guys who are bought in, a brotherhood, where we’re willing to go out there and fight for each other, winning or losing, you see where it’s getting us.”

Smart, as he does at each turn, challenged the mindset of his players late Saturday night in the aftermath of the demolition at SoFi Stadium.

RELATED: TCU coach sounds off on Georgia’s lopsided 65-7 win

“I personally think next year is going to be a much more difficult challenge over this year,” said Smart, who lost an NFL-record 15 players to the draft after the 2021 team went 14-1 in winning last year’s championship.

“It’s because we had so many guys leaving last year.”

To be clear, Georgia will be missing some key players from the 2022 team very soon, in addition to QB Stetson Bennett, projected first-round picks Jalen Carter and Kelee Ringo have already declared their intentions to turn professional, and fellow projected top picks Broderick Jones and Darnell Washington expected to follow suit.

But there are several rising stars returning, among them All-American tight end Brock Bowers, CFP Defensive MVP Javon Bullard and proven tailbacks Kendall Milton and Daijun Edwards.

Smart said before this season part of the confidence he had in his 2022 roster was that many of the players hadn’t done it before, and thus had the necessary hunger.

And yet, there was no air of complacency or sense of finality in the locker room on Monday night, as much as there was the feeling of an ongoing process.

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