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Georgia football’s most underrated defensive player: Malik Herring

Georgia football’s most underrated defensive player: Malik Herring

Georgia football’s most underrated defensive player: Malik Herring

Georgia football’s most underrated defensive player: Malik Herring

ATHENS Malik Herring isn't the first name that comes to mind when Georgia football fans start talking about returning star players.

Herring may not even be the second, third, fourth or fifth player mentioned in conversation about the Bulldogs' top-rated defense.

RELATED: Georgia has $100 million reserve fund, prepared for what-if'

And yet, the 6-foot-3, 280-pound rising senior from Forsyth might possibly be the first Georgia player taken in the 2021 NFL draft should he reach his immense potential.

Herring certainly has been pushing hard during the break, making sure he's ready to hold his starting spot at defensive end whenever football resumes.

Herring played in 12 of 14 games last season and started in nine, including the Sugar Bowl when he made a career-high five tackles including 1.5 TFLs.

ESPN recently identified Herring as the SEC's top returning edge rusher, ranking him No. 5 in that category.

" Herring is set to take on a bigger role in his senior season, and his past play proved he deserves that opportunity," author Anthony Treash penned in the ESPN-plus pay article. "He hasn't played many snaps over the past two seasons just 488, to be exact but he produced solid PFF grades of 86.2 and 86.6 in 2018 and 2019, respectively."

Per the PFF metrics applied, Herring had a pass-rush win rate of 15.8 percent, which it ranked 29th among Power 5 defenders with at least 300 pass rushes since 2018.

When one considers the caliber of competition Herring has faced, it's an impressive number

Of course, Herring hasn't event secured a starting spot on the 2020 Georgia football team.

RELATED: Malik Herring makes time for kids fun day

It's an indication of just how deep the talent runs, and a nod to the vast potential of rising sophomore Travon Walker.

Smart's message last spring was that Herring needed to get more dialed in.

" Malik can be a good player, (but) he's gotta hone in and do the little things right," Smart said. "He's gotta be a little more mature and serious about things to be the player we want him to be.

"He's talented, though, and he's played well. He's just gotta mature some."

As last season progressed, Herring did just that, and now he finds himself on the national radar.

Smart will surely remind Herring and his teammates that just means there will be a bigger target on his back.

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The post Georgia football's most underrated defensive player: Malik Herring appeared first on DawgNation.

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  • QB room is gonna be full.' That was one family member's response Thursday afternoon when a text from one of my brothers passed along the surprise word that the Dawgs are getting another quarterback. Actually, observations about Georgia having a 'crowded' quarterback room were a fairly widespread reaction nationally, even among sports media types, as former Trojans starting quarterback JT Daniels announced he was transferring to UGA from the University of Southern California. After all, Daniels, a redshirt sophomore, will be joining a position group that already included four scholarship QBs as well as several preferred walk-ons (including Will Muschamp's son, Jackson, who turned down a scholarship at Colorado State to walk on at UGA). Currently on the roster are presumed starter Jamie Newman, a recent graduate transfer from Wake Forest; junior Stetson Bennett, last year's backup; redshirt freshman D'Wan Mathis, who finally has been cleared to play after recovering from brain surgery; and incoming freshman Carson Beck. The Dawgs also have a commitment from 5-star Brock Vandagriff of Bogart, who's set to join Kirby Smart's team for the 2021 season. So, yes, that's a jam-packed QB room for new offensive coordinator Todd Monken to oversee , but I remain convinced of one thing: It will thin out. Let's face it, in an age when each of the past three Heisman Trophy winners and three of last year's Heisman finalists all had transferred from another school, you're not going to see any program stockpile highly rated QBs like FSU did in its heyday. You can carry a bunch of tailbacks successfully, because at least three of them probably will see considerable playing time, but that doesn't happen with quarterbacks, as the Dawgs have seen in recent years with Jacob Eason and Justin Fields transferring elsewhere when they couldn't dislodge Jake Fromm from the starter's spot. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if to see Georgia lose at least one of the quarterbacks currently on its roster before the season begins. And, looking ahead to next season, when Newman's one-and-done time at UGA is over, the eventual winner of the battle for the starter's job will be lucky to have even one of the current scholarship QBs sticking around to back him up. To borrow a phrase we've heard all too often over the past couple of months, that is the 'new normal' in college football. Very few elite QBs are inclined to wait on the sideline a couple of years for their chance to be the starter. That's why the transfer portal is so busy these days. So, yes, it's good for Georgia to have all these QBs on the roster right now, but it probably won't last very long. If Daniels gets his NCAA waiver, he'll be the most experienced QB on the roster after Newman, and he'll have three seasons of eligibility left. That's sparked a lot of speculation that Bennett may see the writing on the wall and decide he'll need to transfer elsewhere in order to see playing time. And, unless Mathis wows the coaches in camp and moves into starting contention, you've got to wonder if he'll stick around past this season, too. After Newman is gone, if the 2021 starting QB competition ends up being between Daniels, Beck and Vandagriff (assuming he doesn't take a redshirt year), you're talking about two 5-star players and a 4-star player. Nobody gets the luxury of carrying a QB roster like that anymore, so chances are that at least one, if not both, of the players who don't win the starting spot will move elsewhere as well. Yes, any coach would love to have a pair of highly rated backups as an insurance policy, but, again, that's not the new normal in college football: If you have an established starter, you're probably going to have to keep recruiting highly rated talent to compete with him, knowing that those who lose out are unlikely to be content sitting on the bench or playing mop-up duty more than one season. And, while Smart has been aces at drawing top QB talent to UGA, he so far hasn't been successful in keeping a highly rated backup from going elsewhere. CBS Sports' Barton Simmons summed it up nicely when he tweeted about Daniels' move: ' This is the way you have to recruit (if you're able to). Load the room with the best guys you can and assume some attrition.' Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly noted in 2018, 'When you're recruiting, you're going to have to have it in your mind that if your No. 2 doesn't feel like he's going to get a shot, you may lose him. I've come to grips with it a couple years ago. I don't see it changing.' As for what Daniels' arrival in Athens means for the 2020 quarterback situation, there's been a lot of speculation that he might challenge Newman for the starter's spot, if he's given a waiver by the NCAA to play immediately for UGA. Some even have floated the idea that Smart brought Daniels in because he has concluded he needs an option besides Newman. I'm skeptical about that idea, however. Yes, Daniels was the third highest rated QB in the 2018 class (behind Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields), and only the second true freshman quarterback to start an opener for the Trojans. And, he did that after graduating one year early from the vaunted Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, California (which also produced Bama's Bryce Young ) . Still, his freshman numbers were solid, but not spectacular (the USC team wasn't very good that year). And, while he did win the initial battle to keep the starting job last season, he lost it due to injury. Rising sophomore Kedon Slovis, who stepped in for Daniels and proceeded to shatter USC's freshman records on his way to Pac-12 offensive freshman of the year honors, was widely expected to retain his starting job this year, leaving Daniels as the odd man out, according to Ryan Kartje, the USC beat writer at the Los Angeles Times. Thus, Daniels transferred. Meanwhile, Newman is a dual passing-running threat who put up some impressive numbers the past couple of seasons at Wake Forest, and already is drawing NFL interest. If Daniels is eligible and physically able to participate fully in preseason camp, I'm sure he'll be given a chance to compete for the starter's job, and competition usually makes the eventual starter better (certainly, Fromm played better the two seasons when he had to beat out highly rated competition). However, the biggest reason I'm skeptical about Daniels' chances of taking the starter's spot this season is simply the fact that he's coming back from a major injury. Assuming preseason practice begins sometime in July or August (based on the current prevailing wind favoring starting the season on time), it still will be less than a year since Daniels suffered a season-ending ACL injury in USC's first game of last season. Had USC been able to hold spring practice this year, Daniels wouldn't have been cleared to participate fully, because he still was recovering from a second clean-up surgery on his knee. He is expected to be good to go by August, but it's the rare athlete who gets back in top form that quickly after rehabbing a knee. Remember, as good as Nick Chubb was in 2016, returning from knee surgery, it wasn't really until the 2017 season that he was his old self. And it wasn't until late last season that Zamir White, also coming back from knee surgery, appeared to be regain his form fully. So, while Daniels might be available as a backup in 2020, if needed, I tend to think that, in bringing him in to the program, Smart really has his eye more on 2021, and the chance to have an experienced QB behind center when the Dawgs open with Clemson in Charlotte. Finally, there's one more reason for Bulldog Nation to celebrate Daniels' arrival in Athens: Tennessee, which has been drawing considerable hype with its own recruiting lately, was hoping he'd wind up in Knoxville after he entered the transfer portal in April. Instead, we get the latest example of the stratospheric level at which Smart is recruiting these days. The post UGA quarterback room likely won't stay crowded' very long appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis earlier this week, a number of protests have occurred across the country with regard to racism and police brutality. Georgia coach Kirby Smart shared his thoughts on the matter on Saturday afternoon. 'I firmly stand against of all kinds,' Smart said in a note posted to his Twitter account. 'I realize that I feel this differently, but I am hurting for the young black men on my team, I am hurting for the black men on our staff. I cannot imagine the agony, grief and fear that our black communities feel today and every other day. 'I do not have the answers but I am committed to moving with purpose and being part of the solutions. We have to make a change. We have to be better.' Just my thoughts pic.twitter.com/PMUB6y9e7J Coach Kirby Smart (@KirbySmartUGA) May 30, 2020 Smart was not the only Georgia coach to speak out on the matter of race on Saturday, as a number of Georgia position coaches posted on their Twitter accounts about the issue. The likes of Glenn Schumann, Dan Lanning, Charlton Warren and Cortez Hankton all posted picture of them with the players they coach, while running backs coach Dell McGee shared a message from Martin Luther King Jr. 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.' DR. MLK This can't continue! Praying for a better future. To whom much is given, much will be required. (Luke12:48) #CoachesStandForJustice Dell McGee (@DellMcGee) May 30, 2020 This is my family and I love them. They deserve to be treated with love, respect, and equality. Period. pic.twitter.com/EJN9UMepfT Glenn Schumann (@CoachSchuUGA) May 30, 2020 Couldn't have said it better. #Family #BePartOfTheSolution https://t.co/rs91AqVR1y pic.twitter.com/9ipPke23o4 Dan Lanning (@CoachDanLanning) May 30, 2020 'The time is always right to do what is right' MLK. My family deserves respect, love and justice! #Together #Family #BePartOfTheSolution https://t.co/CXxNABOjgk pic.twitter.com/SbTAyaWheE Charlton Warren (@CoachCwarren) May 30, 2020 Respect. Equality. Justice. Love. #Family #bepartofthesolution https://t.co/TY5TiZiUox pic.twitter.com/rDdgmMn5Al Cortez Hankton Jr. (@Coach_Hankton) May 30, 2020 Hankton, the Georgia wide receivers coach, also posted a lengthy message about why he got into coaching and the importance of being a role model to so many. 'To all my players, BOTH former and current, I love you,' Hankton wrote. 'My ears and heart will always be open for any conversation. Have awareness for the things that are occurring around you It's ok to feel a certain way.' We all got into this profession for a reason to lead, love, and develop. More importantly to be role models. What you STAND for means everything! Just my thoughts. Just my heart. pic.twitter.com/lqMx604hc1 Cortez Hankton Jr. (@Coach_Hankton) May 30, 2020 Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason, the only African American head football coach in the SEC also posted a lengthy thread regarding the matters facing the country. Only to find that following the rules can sometimes not be enough to keep yourself alive. It's a confusing dilemma to black men, which breeds anger and mistrust because the rules to this game keep changing. Derek Mason (@CoachDerekMason) May 30, 2020 Georgia will have players returning to campus in the coming days, with players able to begin voluntary workouts starting on June 8. Smart spoke earlier this week and outlined the precautions the school will go through to make sure players are safe. Related: Kirby Smart: Georgia football workouts new normal completely different' than pre-COVID19 'I've provided those guys information and each position coach provides his position group information, so we're anticipating everybody coming back on a voluntary basis,' Smart said. More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation WATCH: Breaking down the many angles of new Georgia football transfer quarterback JT Daniels Brock Vandagriff: How does that family feel about the addition of JT Daniels? Georgia football podcast: Separating fact from fiction with JT Daniels' UGA transfer Opinion: The 5 UGA players most likely to lead the SEC in a statistical category BREAKING: Elite OL Dylan Fairchild has made his college decision WATCH: QB transfer JT Daniels accurate, cerebral,' per USC beat writer Ryan Young Kirby Smart: Georgia football workouts new normal completely different' than pre-COVID19 Social media split on reaction to Georgia football landing JT Daniels The post Kirby Smart, Georgia assistant coaches speak out regarding death of George Floyd, protests appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Dylan Fairchild is a state heavyweight wrestling champion and an All-American football player out of West Forsyth High School. Needless to say, he is a priority target for the Georgia Bulldogs in the 2021 recruiting cycle. He was so well-regarded by Georgia line coach Matt Luke, that Luke wanted to make sure he offered him in person earlier this year. When he told DawgNation this week he was ready to make his college decision, he spoke with a conviction and a clear purpose that we rarely hear from a recruit. Especially not one rated as the nation's No. 2 OG and the No. 40 overall prospect (247Sports) for the class of 2021. Toss in the global pandemic denying all the college visits he thought needed to take. Sprinkle in the fact that he never thought he'd be committing this early regardless of the COVID-19 concerns. Fairchild just knows. He makes a very telling case. 'It was always Georgia and Auburn,' Fairchild said. 'I think it was those two. Those were the closest but I think that Georgia was there. I think I was sitting there and I don't think I had that two hour or three-hour conversation with other schools like I did with coach Matt Luke and coach [Kirby Smart] to get to know each other.' 'To get to really really know each other. The more I am around Coach Luke and I see his style and the way he coaches and takes care of his kids, the more I have grown closer with him. We've built a very good bond.' The 4-star prospect becomes the ninth public commitment of the 2021 recruiting class in Athens. That moves the Bulldogs up to the nation's No. 12 class for 2021 on the 247Sports Team Composite rankings. 'Georgia is going to be the best of both worlds for me,' he said. 'Even with football, I am picking a school that even without football I would want to go too. You never know what could happen. This football life could end in one moment. I think I am going to go to a place where I am going to be happy with football and I am going to be happy with school, too.' 'I think Georgia is really the best of both worlds. I think all the pieces of a national championship are falling right into Georgia's hands. I want to be a part of that and do something special over there. I think that me and a few other guys have that same mindset. I'm just ready to go.' 'I've been talking with Brock [Vandagriff] and Micah Morris and a few other guys and we are all with this. We are ready to be a part of something really special at Georgia.' Dylan Fairchild: This is one committed member of the class He actually knew he wanted to be a Bulldog before he got his first Georgia hat. The West Forsyth rising senior called the Georgia staff at 3 p.m. on Saturday afternoon. That was a private chat and he made his commitment. He then joined DawgNation for a special recruiting announcement on its Facebook and YouTube social channels. When Fairchild sent out his tweet letting the world know he was a Bulldog, he was live on the air with DawgNation. 'If I were to do this without the whole coronavirus thing going around I would go see the Georgia coaches and do it in person,' Fairchild said. 'It just wanted to give them that respect and call them. Person to person. Just tell them I was 100 percent with this and ready to go. I'm ready to get to work already.' It was a bit unexpected here, but he said the fact he couldn't visit the Georgia coaches in person actually helped him come to that decision faster than he ever expected. 'The Zoom meetings really helped me more,' Fairchild said. 'It really made it feel like I was doing a one-on-one with the coaches on a recruiting visit. I don't think it would have been the same for me with that if I was on a recruiting visit on the campus at Georgia. You can really ask the questions you would really want to ask face-to-face and in some circumstances it helped even more than doing it when you are around a bunch of people and have a lot of activities going on.' 'I think in my case the Zooms actually helped me more.' Fairchild ranks as the nation's No. 7 OG and the No. 135 overall prospect on the 247Sports Composite ratings. He grew up a Georgia fan with his family barking at the TV every Saturday in the fall. His family is made up of mostly Bulldogs with a few Georgia Tech fans sprinkled in. 'I don't know it is just like it kind of all matches up,' Fairchild said. 'There's just no way that if I went to any other school. There's no way at any point that I would regret it if I went to Georgia. It was just meant to happen. All the recruiting put aside, I just think that degree from Georgia is just going to be the best fit for me. I've never been more excited about something.' Check out his junior highlight reel. Did you know the weekly DawgNation.com 'Before the Hedges' program is now available as an Apple podcast? Click to check it out and download. The post BREAKING: Elite OL Dylan Fairchild has made his college decision appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Expectations are high for Georgia. The Bulldogs are projected to once again be among the top teams in the country, and after winning the SEC East three consecutive years, it's easy for many analysts and fans to pencil UGA back in the SEC championship game as well. What's not quite as easy is determining the individual players who'll help lead the way. UGA's deep and talented roster has operated as an ensemble cast in recent seasons. For instance, if you ask a number of knowledgeable UGA fans who the best player on the Bulldogs defense was last year you're likely to get a variety of answers with plenty of evidence to support the choice. A similar level of roster balance appears to be in place for the upcoming season, but that doesn't mean there isn't a chance for some individual players to dominate. Yet some of the best players on UGA's roster may be less likely to fill the stats sheets than you might think. For example, UGA is justifiably known to many as 'Running Back University,' but UGA isn't likely to produce the league's leading rusher based on previous years under coach Kirby Smart. D'Andre Swift was seventh in the SEC in rushing yards last season after being eighth in that category the year before. His teammate, Elijah Holyfield, was ninth in 2018. Another pair of Bulldogs running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel were fourth and fifth respectively in rushing yards in 2017. UGA has led the SEC in rushing in two of the last three years, but that hasn't led to an individual leader mostly because Smart favors using multiple running backs. Likewise, there are a couple defensive categories where UGA is probably unlikely to produce an individual leader. The Bulldogs have been first or second in the SEC in total defense in each of the last three seasons, but hasn't produced many sacks or tackles for loss. UGA's top sack producer in 2019 Azeez Ojulari with 5.5 was only 13th in the league. The Bulldogs haven't had a player lead the SEC in sacks since Jarvis Jones had 13.5 in 2012. Ojulari also topped returning UGA players a season ago in tackles for loss with six, but that mark only placed him 47th-best in the SEC. However, if you're looking for UGA players most likely to lead the SEC in a statistical category, here are five names to consider (Hat tip to Doug Maddox on Twitter for the topic suggestion). Safety Richard LeCounte to lead the SEC in interceptions The last UGA player to lead the SEC in interceptions was Bacarri Rambo who pulled down eight in 2011. LeCounte could match that feat this season. LeCounte came close to leading the league a year ago when he picked off four passes, putting him just two behind the SEC's top performer, LSU cornerback Derek Stingley. Stingley, who's just a sophomore, returns for 2020, and is expected to produce another big season. Yet expectations are justifiably high for LeCounte as well. Linebacker Monty Rice to lead the SEC in tackles Rice was 10th in the SEC with 89 tackles last season, so seeing him leap up to first might seem like a stretch, but it probably shouldn't. The leading tackler in the SEC last season, LSU linebacker Jacob Phillips with 113, was 11th in the conference with 87 tackles in 2018. Plus, there's precedent for a UGA player at Rice's position in this category. Roquan Smith was the SEC's top tackler in 2017. Quarterback Jamie Newman to lead the SEC in touchdown passes It might seem strange to picture a UGA quarterback as the SEC's best in a category given the program isn't exactly known for its passing success these days, but UGA's previous quarterback probably performed better in this metric than you realize. During Jake Fromm's three seasons at UGA he finished third, second and fourth in the SEC in touchdowns thrown averaging 26 touchdowns per season. Of course, there's a chance that recent transfer arrival JT Daniels earns the UGA starting job over Newman if he's ruled eligible, but that's a different column for a different day. Running back Zamir White to lead the SEC in rushing touchdowns This might be a bit of a long shot for the same reason a Bulldogs player isn't likely to lead the league in rushing: UGA shares a lot of carries between its running backs. However, it's easier to imagine White leading the league in touchdowns than rushing yards because good teams tend to score a lot. For context, Michel (16) and Chubb (15) were third and fourth respectively in the SEC in rushing touchdowns when UGA won the SEC in 2017. George Pickens to lead the SEC in receiving yards To put it bluntly, history isn't on Pickens' side. Malcolm Mitchell who was eighth in the SEC with 865 yards in 2015 is the only Bulldogs receiver in the last seven years to finish in the top 10 of the conference in receiving yards. However, Pickens who was 13th in the SEC with 727 yards as a freshman last season had more yards than any Bulldogs receiver other than Mitchell over that span and had the fourth-best single season total for the Bulldogs in the last 10 years. In other words, it's been a long time since Georgia has had a receiver that has shown as much promise as Pickens, and it isn't unreasonable to think he could take the next step in 2020. The post Opinion: The 5 UGA players most likely to lead the SEC in a statistical category appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Georgia football is the No. 1 topic every day on DawgNation Daily the daily podcast for Georgia Bulldogs fans. Catch up on everything happening with UGA athletics with host Brandon Adams and the DawgNation experts as they break down the latest Georgia football recruiting news and discuss coach Kirby Smart's quest to return the Bulldogs to the top of the SEC. On episode No. 1,205 (May 30, 2020) of the podcast, Georgia fans can hear a discussion about former five-star USC quarterback JT Daniels' decision to transfer to Georgia. Georgia football podcast: Separating fact from fiction with JT Daniels' UGA transfer Beginning of the show: Former five-star quarterback from USC, JT Daniels, announced Thursday he was transferring to Georgia. The move was unexpected, and reaction to Daniels' decision has been mixed. I'll explain on today's show why UGA fans should be excited about Daniels' arrival and I try to clear up some confusion around some possible misconceptions about what is going on with the Bulldogs' quarterback competition in 2020 and 2021. 10-minute mark: I make a bold prediction for UGA and Daniels in 2021. 15-minute mark: DawgNation's recruiting insider Jeff Sentell joins the show to discuss the Daniels news. Some of the topics addressed include How good the Bulldogs could eventually be with Daniels as the starter What this means for UGA's other transfer quarterback, Jamie Newman How Daniels' decision impacts recent recruits Carson Beck and D'wan Mathis Reaction from five-star 2021 commit Brock Vandagriff And more 35-minute mark: I take a look at other headlines including UGA coach Kirby Smart's recent statement about how the Bulldogs will implement measures to protect players from the coronavirus once team activities begin again starting June 8, how the Texas governor's decision to allow fans to attend sporting events at 25 percent capacity starting in June could impact college football and South Carolina coach Will Muschamp's recent statement about his son, Jackson's, decision to enroll as a walk-on quarterback at UGA. 40-minute mark: I discuss the UGA players most likely to lead the SEC in a statistical category this season. End of show: I share the Gator Hater Updater. DawgNation Daily Episode 1205: Separating fact from fiction with JT Daniels' UGA transfer The post Georgia football podcast: Separating fact from fiction with JT Daniels' UGA transfer appeared first on DawgNation.