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Grading how the Georgia football 2016 recruiting class ended up performing

Grading how the Georgia football 2016 recruiting class ended up performing

Grading how the Georgia football 2016 recruiting class ended up performing

Grading how the Georgia football 2016 recruiting class ended up performing

Welcome to Good Day, UGA , your one-stop shop for Georgia footballnews and takes. Check us out every weekday morning for everything you need to know about Georgia football, recruiting, basketball and more.

A look back the 2016 Georgia football recruiting class and re-grade

Kirby Smart did not have much time on his hands. He had just a few weeks to cobble together a recruiting class prior to the start of his head coaching career. There were a few 5-star prospects available, including quarterback Jacob Eason.

That first class had a few high-profile misses most notably Derrick Brown and Demetris Robertson but Smart was still able to land the nation's No. 6 signing class.

Four years later, most of the members of the 22-man class have finished their college careers. Only two members of Smart's inaugural class will be on the 2020 Georgia team. The rest have either graduated, moved onto the NFL or finished their college careers elsewhere.

Below, we take a look at how each of the 21 signees and one multi-year transfer did in their Georgia careers.


These are the players who did not finish their careers at Georgia. These players include: 5-star quarterback Jacob Eason, 4-star defensive end Chauncey Manac, 4-star linebacker Jaleel Laguins, 4-star cornerback Chad Clay, 3-star offensive lineman Chris Barnes and punter Marshall Long.

Eason was the highest-rated signee in the class, but following the emergence of Jake Fromm in 2017, he elected to finish his college career at Washington. Clay had the shortest stay in Athens, as he was dismissed from the team in June of 2016.

Related: Former Georgia quarterback Jacob Eason thanks UGA as he declares for 2020 NFL Draft

C's get degrees

These are guys who finished their Georgia careers but never really emerged as impact or even key players. Not every prospect is going to be a star at the college level, but a number of these guys were able to fill valuable roles for the Bulldogs.

Michail Carter:Georgia landed Carter on National Signing Day in 2016. He was rated as a 4-star defensive tackle and the No. 122 player in the country. He ended up playing a small part in the defensive line rotation for Georgia as a senior, but he never really shined in his time in Athens. Georgia always rotates a number of defensive linemen making it difficult for some players like Carter to stand out.

In his Georgia career, Carter finished with 15 total tackles. He played in 13 games as a sophomore in 2017, the most in his Georgia career.

Julian Rochester: The defensive tackle is one of just two players still in Athens. He ended up redshirting this past season after suffering an ACL injury in the Sugar Bowl loss to Texas at the end of his junior season.

Rochester has been solid when healthy, as he racked up at least 2.0 sacks in each healthy season at Georgia. But he's never been spectacular and certainly hasn't lived up to his status as Georgia's highest-rated defensive signee, which he was for this cycle.

But Rochester still has time and an opportunity this coming season as the Bulldogs will have to replace five defensive linemen from their 2019 rotation. A big 2020 could help bump up his stock.

David Marshall:Georgia also landed Marshall on National Signing Day in 2016, as the Bulldogs got him to flip his pledge from Auburn to the home-state Bulldogs.

Marshall was a 3-star recruit and the No. 433 player in the 2016 class. He had some promising moments, especially early on in his Georgia career, as he racked up 6.0 tackles for loss in his first two seasons for Georgia. But he was never the same player after suffering a foot injury in his junior season.

His best season at Georgia came in 2016, when he had 2.5 sacks for the Bulldogs. Had he stayed healthy for his entire Georgia career, he likely finishes with a better grade.

Tyrqiue McGhee:McGhee signed with Georgia out of Peach County High School in the 2016 class and proved to be a valuable piece for Georgia's secondary. He was the lowest-rated defensive signee in the class as the nation's No. 635 player, but he had a better college career than that.

He started nine games in his Georgia career and his most memorable play was likely an interception against Florida in 2018. He also played a key role at cornerback for Georgia when the Bulldogs were shorthanded against Notre Dame this past season. McGhee did miss four games in his senior season due to an injury.

Charlie Woerner:He never put up big numbers for Georgia but he was long a key player for the Bulldogs at tight end. If blocking were as celebrated as pass-catching, Woerner would definitely land in the B category.

But in none of his years at Georgia was he the leading receiver at the tight end position. He did not catch his first touchdown pass until his final regular-season game against Georgia Tech.

Still, Woerner is one of the more beloved Georgia players of the Smart era, given his approach to the game. He was also a valued leader for the Bulldogs in his time in Athens.

Tyler Simmons:Simmons was a blown call away from being a B. We're referencing the infamous blocked punt that was called off in the 2018 National Championship Game against Alabama. This naturally spawned millions of "Tyler Simmons was onsides" memes.

Eventually, Simmons worked was his way from special teams standout to starter at wide receiver for his senior season. His last year proved to be his best, as he finished with 21 catches for 255 receiving yards.

Related: Retiring referee admits they blew Tyler Simmons call in national championship game

B good but not great

Brian Herrien:Herrien was a late signee in the 2016 class, but he made the earliest impact as he scored a touchdown in his first career game against North Carolina in 2016.

Given the talent in Georgia's backfield, Herrien never became a featured back. But he always seemed to make the most of his limited opportunities and proved to be a nice compliment to D'Andre Swift as a senior.

He finished with at least 250 yards in each of his college seasons and had he played against Baylor in the Sugar Bowl, likely would've topped the 500-yard mark. Herrien was the lowest-rated skill player at Georgia in the class, but it's hard to argue that he didn't get the most out of his Georgia career.

Riley Ridley:If Ridley played every game like he did against Alabama, he'd probably be in the A category. In his two games against the Crimson Tide, he combined for 11 catches for 141 yards and a touchdown. His best skill was his ability to get open against elite competition. He also had a huge touchdown catch against Tennessee as a freshman, which has largely been forgotten to time due to the ending of that game.

In his junior season, Ridley ended up leading the Bulldogs in catches, yards and touchdowns. His early departure for the NFL draft certainly hurt Georgia's passing offense in 2019.

Prior to the first Alabama game, Ridley had just 20 catches in his college career. He had 50 over the next 15 games for Georgia. If the beginning of his career was a little bit better, he'd have a case for being in the A category.

Javon Wims:Wims didn't spend as much time in Athens as his fellow 2017 signees as he was a JUCO prospect. But he made the most of his two seasons in Athens.

Wims ended up being the leading receiver on Georgia's 2017 team that ended up playing for the national championship game. He caught 45 passes that season for 720 yards and seven touchdowns for Georgia.

He also had a key touchdown in the win over Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl.

Ben Cleveland: In addition to Rochester, Cleveland is the only other member of Georgia's 2016 class still on campus. Cleveland was the first player to stick with his pledge to Georgia once Smart took over.

He redshirted his freshman season and didn't really begin to contribute until after the loss to Auburn in 2017. After that game, he was inserted into the starting lineup and helped make a difference in the SEC championship game and Rose Bowl.

An injury cost him most of 2018 and he spent much of 2019 rotating with Cade Mays at the right guard spot. But following significant attrition on the offensive line, Cleveland figures to be a key player for the Georgia offensive line in 2020. And a strong final season could help his standing.

Related: Ben Cleveland: He's following through on a plan to return to UGA in 2020

Isaac Nauta: The 5-star tight end prospect was one of the big wins at the start of Smart's Georgia tenue. And he had a strong freshman season, where he caught 29 passes for 361 yards and 3 touchdowns.

His sophomore season saw him take a big step back, as he finished with only nine catches for 114 yards. But a bounce-back year as a junior saw him live up to that lofty ranking. He decided to head to the NFL instead of returning for a senior season. The Bulldogs likely wish he would've returned, especially given his strong game in the 2018 SEC Championship Game.

Had Nauta played better in his sophomore year where he was catching passes from freshman Jake Fromm maybe he is in the A category.

Elijah Holyfield:Holyifled may not have had the consistency that Herrien did over his Georgia career. But the other 2016 running back signee also never had a year as strong as Holyfield did in 2018.

Holyfield took full advantage of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel's departures, as he rushed for a career-best 1,018 yards and seven touchdowns. He and Swift helped power the Georgia rushing attack and really make-up for the loss of two of the best Georgia running backs in program history.

After a strong junior campaign, Holyfield elected to head to the NFL. Some would've liked to see him return to Georgia for his senior season, but you can't argue that he was a successful player during his time in Athens.

Top of the class:

Solomon Kindley:Despite Cleveland taking his starting spot during the 2017 season, Kindley rebounded and had stronger performances in 2018 and 2019. There was no rotating at the left guard spot on the Georgia offensive line, as Kindley only missed snaps due to injury.

Kindley was the lowest-rated offensive player in the class, as he did not even have a ranking in the 247Sports Composite. But thanks to his hard work and some assistance from offensive line coach Sam Pittman, he ended up starting plenty of games over his final three seasons in Athens.

Kindley actually had another year of eligibility, but he elected to enter the 2020 NFL Draft.

Tyler Clark:Of the four defensive linemen Georgia signed in this class, Clark easily went on to have the best career.

Clark really began to make a name for himself in the Rose Bowl, as he finished with five tackles and sack in Georgia's double-overtime win over the Sooners. He admittedly didn't have the season he wanted to as a junior, as he went from 6.0 tackles for loss to 4.0.

But he had his best year as a senior and emerged as a disruptive playmaker for the Bulldogs. His 8.0 tackles for loss led the team and were the second-most by any defensive lineman since Smart became the head coach.

Clark played a big role in Georgia having one of the toughest defensive lines in the country as the Bulldogs gave just two rushing touchdowns all season.

Mecole Hardman: Hardman committed to Georgia on National Signing Day and went on to live up to his 5-star status.

He spent most of his freshman season as a defensive back but when he made the switch to wide receiver, things really clicked. He caught 25 passes for 418 yards as a sophomore, with the highlight being his 80-yard touchdown catch against Alabama.

As a junior, he improved upon his numbers as he finished with 34 catches for 532 yards and seven touchdowns. He also became one of the best punt returners in the country, as he averaged 20 yards per return in his final season in Athens.

Related:Why Mecole Hardman winning a Super Bowl helps the future of Georgia football

Hardman went on to become a second-round pick for the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2019 NFL Draft. He made countless big plays as a rookie and ended up winning a Super Bowl. Not a bad stretch for a player who entered Georgia having played mostly as a quarterback in high school.

J.R. Reed:Reed technically did not sign with Georgia's 2016 class, as he arrived that summer as a transfer. He ended being the best player Smart brought in prior to coaching in his first game as Georgia's head coach.

After sitting out the 2016 season, Reed went on to start every game over the next three seasons. He made countless big plays as he became one of the best safeties in the country. He was a Jim Thrope Award Finalist and First Team All-American as a senior for the Bulldogs.

Reed came to Georgia as a transfer from Tulsa with very little fanfare. He left as a Georgia legend and one of the best players to play for Smart in his first four seasons.

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  • ATHENS Georgia quarterback D'Wan Mathis was back in his home state of Michigan over spring break when the coronavirus pandemic began to take effect. Some of the Bulldogs' players would end up staying home when UGA suspended and then canceled face-to-face spring semester classes. But not Mathis. 'D'Wan came back on spring break and told me he loves where he is from, but that he needed to go back to Georgia,' Terence Mathis told DawgNation on Friday. 'He said, Daddy, I love you, but I'm leaving.' 'For us, we're just happy he was granted the exemption to stay near campus where they have the best doctors in the world keeping up with him.' The former Ohio State quarterback commit from metro Detroit has had a challenging rehabilitation period after an emergency brain surgery procedure last May 23 put him in the ICU unit at Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center. 'I want the public to know this, please write this: Georgia could have given up on my son,' Terence Mathis said. 'But instead, Kirby and his staff have treated D'Wan as though he was their own son. They've used every possible resource to stay behind him and keep him engaged with the team after saving his life.' RELATED: Georgia saved my son's life, medical director Ron Courson praised Indeed, Coach Kirby Smart made it clear last May that Georgia would not rush Mathis' comeback, and they planned for a complete recovery. 'We are expecting a full recovery, and the timeline is the least of our concerns,' Smart said at SEC spring meetings. Mathis' comeback has come in stages. He was cleared to run and lift last July. By the start of the 2019 season, he was participating in limited drill work. By last November, Mathis running the scout team offense and playing with such passion that coaches and doctors had to reel him in and remind him to use some restraint. Mathis was cleared to go through spring football drills, though it's important to note he's not yet been cleared for game action. There's an MRI test scheduled for May that could provided the all-important clearance for total contact (UGA doesn't tackle its quarterbacks in spring drills). More good news came on Friday, when the SEC added some provisions for coaches to instruct players. Mathis, along with fellow Georgia football quarterbacks Jamie Newman, Caron Beck and Stetson Bennett, has the benefit of chalk talks starting at 1 p.m. next Monday. RELATED: SEC moves toward resuming football preparations Terence Mathis maintains the football will take care of itself. He said the most important thing to the Mathis family is how D'Wan has been accepted into the Georgia football community. 'I'm indebted to Georgia, they have extended this incredible opportunity to D'Wan,' Terence Mathis said. 'Especially during these tough times, and you know it's bad up here in Michigan. 'It means everything to us as a family for him to now have the opportunity to be involved with the football planning while still pursuing academics. 'Coach (Todd) Monken has reached out to me and let me know that D'Wan is having positive progress.' Mathis' upside was obvious to all who watched last year's G-Day Game. The 6-foot-6, 205-pounder was 15-of-28 passing for 113 yards and provided one of the biggest highlights of the Georgia football spring game. Mathis, who ran a 10.8-second time in the 100 meters in high school, showed his speed when he caught a double-reverse pass from Matt Landers for a 39-yard touchdown. TRICK PLAY ALERT #GDay #GoDawgs Georgia Football (@GeorgiaFootball) April 21, 2019 'D'Wan, he's explosive,' Jake Fromm said of his former understudy. 'I think he converted three or four first downs in a row with his legs. 'The guy can run the ball, he can throw it 70 yards, he's going to be a great player.' The strong performances in spring drills kept Mathis going during the dog days of last summer and into the season. But there were also frustrating times when D'Wan Maths didn't know what to do without football, unable to travel to away games. That's when Georgia came up biggest, according to his father. 'As frustrated as he got, the more they wrapped their arms around him,' Terence Mathis said. 'Those coaches could have said they were too busy trying to win the SEC East again and play for another league title. But they didn't say that. 'They believed in D'Wan, and they have stayed behind him, and the DawgNation fans have stayed behind him, too.' There is no timetable for college football to return at the time of this publication (March 28). The coronavirus has put all group activities around the world on hold. But Terence Mathis said his son will remain in Athens. 'That's what he considers his home now,' he said, 'and it's where we believe he belongs.' DawgNation D'Wan Mathis stories Mind Game: D'Wan Mathis ready to compete for starting job Mathis tipped by social media Ohio State misled him on Justin Fields D'Wan Mathis recovering after emergency brain cyst surgery Jake Fromm shares observations of D'Wan Mathis The post Georgia quarterback D'Wan Mathis continuing comeback home' in Athens, granted exemption appeared first on DawgNation.
  • We've now reached the Final Four. Not of the NCAA Tournament but of the top Georgia football moments that have occurred under Kirby Smart. We now have the representatives for each season 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 that Smart has guided the Georgia program. The 2016 winner was the top seed, being Nick Chubb's return against North Carolina. The game also gave Smart his first career win, while Chubb ran for over 200 yards in his first game back. The 2017 pick is the runaway favorite to win, as that year is being repped by Sony Michel's game-ending touchdown run against Oklahoma. It's hard to imagine this moment somehow not winning the whole bracket, given how dominant that moment is been in voting up to this point. The 2018 selection was D'Andre Swift's touchdown run against Auburn, which capped Swift's best-career game in a Georgia uniform. And the representative for the past season was Georgia's 23-17 win over Notre Dame. The big highlight from that game was the light show that took place between the third and fourth quarters, though Lawrence Cager's touchdown catch. The Swift run will take on the 2019 Notre Dame game, while Chubb's return has the unfortunate matchup against Michel's final Rose Bowl touchdown. You can vote on the results below, as well as see the full brackets as to how we got to this point. Full Bracket 2016 vs. 2017 region No. 1 Sony Michel's walk-off against Oklahoma vs.No. 1 Nick Chubb's return Breakdown:Michel dominated again, winning 92-8 over the 2017 Notre Dame take over. Michel's game-winning touchdown run is the heavy favorite to win the entire bracket. Think back to how great it felt in that moment for the Bulldogs to punch their ticket to Atlanta. Chubb's return also advanced to this point with relative ease, beating Jacob Eason's winner against Mizzou by a 72-28 margin. This was Chubb's first game back after a horrific knee injury against Tennessee in his sophomore season. He came out and ran for 222 yards, the second-most in his illustrious Georgia career. The result also gave Georgia a win over North Carolina in Smart's first-ever game as Georgia's head coach. In the first matchup, 2017's top moment against 2016's top moment DawgNation (@DawgNation) March 28, 2020 2018 vs. 2019 region No. 2 D'Andre Swift's touchdown run against Auburn vs.No. 1 The Notre Dame lights show The 77-yard touchdown run by Swift capped not only his best career game but also a three-game stretch that saw the Bulldogs beat three straight-ranked opponents in Florida, Kentucky and Auburn. It got the final four by beating Kirby Smart's post-Florida celebration. Auburn has one of the best run defenses in the country. @DAndreSwift has 186 yards against it, including this 77 yard touchdown. Dayne Young (@dayneyoung) November 11, 2018 The Notre Dame win is on the shortlist of best home games of the past decade. It advanced with a 58-42 margin over HBTFD. And in the other matchup, 2018 against 2019 DawgNation (@DawgNation) March 28, 2020 More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation Georgia football podcast: CBS writer says UGA among teams most hurt by missing spring practice SEC steps toward resuming football preparations, approves online chalk talks Jonathan Jefferson: 5 things to know about this week's 2021 Georgia commit Opinion: Kirk Herbstreit's reckless speculation does college football a disservice WATCH: If you don't like Todd Gurley on the Atlanta Falcons, you're anti-fun ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. breaks down D'Andre Swift draft stock Georgia football podcast: 5 things to know about UGA's chances of making Playoff Tony Grimes: Nation's No. 1 CB was set to see UGA amid a flurry of spring visits The post Bracket season: Discussing the top moment of each Georgia football season under Kirby Smart appeared first on DawgNation.
  • DawgNation has four staffers who cover Georgia football from every angle: Beat, live streams, photos, podcasts, recruiting, etc. The 'Cover 4' concept is: 1) Present a topic; 2) Offer a reasoned response; 3) Share a brisk statement on that opinion. 4) Pepper the page with photos for the big picture. For this edition, we discuss what Georgia fans would have been talking about now had COVID-19 not put our way of life on hold. DawgNation continues with the 'Cover 4' concept. The focus is always a timely look with each of our guys manning the secondary on a pertinent topic. We're looking at our now useless Georgia spring practice schedule from earlier this year. It makes us wince. Poof. All of that is gone. But football will return. Someday. Hopefully soon. That schedule says the 2020 Bulldogs would have been six practices deep into their spring drills after today. What would have DawgNation been talking about right now? We closed our eyes and imagined what that would have looked like. It resulted in another 'Cover 4' discussion of four different aspects of the team. It was fun to do amidst a time of great renewal for the Georgia program. Well, except for a salty defense which should be the best of the Kirby Smart era in Athens. The quick in-and-out game remains. The Cover 4 is designed to come out as quick as everyone is to try to maintain their social distancing these days. What would have been the big Georgia football spring practice storyline right now? Brandon Adams: Jamie Newman The 'why' from 'DawgNation Daily' here: 'The quarterback is almost always the biggest story, and this certainly would've been the case with Newman. The absence of spring practice only increases our anticipation to see Newman's debut this fall .' Mike Griffith: The offensive line The 'why' from 'On the Beat' here: 'This is the area Kirby Smart is most concerned about, and he'll say it. There will be discussion about different players lining up in different places, and injury updates . ' Connor Riley: Todd, Todd, Todd Monken The 'why' from 'Good Day UGA' here: ' Between Smart and some offensive players, we'd have gotten to hear more about working with the new offensive coordinator and what he brings to the table, as well as the working dynamic with Smart.' Jeff Sentell: The need for more playmakers at receiver. Again. The Intel here: 'Kirby Smart made it clear last spring he didn't have enough playmakers at receiver. He wanted to see what Dominick Blaylock, Lawrence Cager and George Pickens could add to the unit. It would have been the same chorus this year. The only differences between the receivers practicing last spring would have been the subtraction of veterans J.J Holloman and Tyler Simmons and the addition of Pickens and Justin Robinson. The Bulldogs will again await the arrival of Jermaine Burton, Marcus Rosemy, Ladd McConkey and Arian Smith with great anticipation. When they hit the field, that's when we will get a glimpse of where Monken's new offense can take Georgia this fall.' The post Georgia football: What would have been the talk of spring practices by now? appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Georgia and its new quarterback will be among the favorites when college football resumes, per the latest online odds from Wake Forest graduate transfer Jamie Newman is ranked fifth among the Heisman Trophy contenders without having even taken his first snap for the Bulldogs. To boot, Newman along with the rest of SEC players has just now gotten approval to receive online 'chalk talk' instruction from quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Todd Monken starting at 1 p.m. on Monday. Former Georgia quarterback Justin Fields is the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy at Ohio State (+450), followed by Clemson's Trevor Lawrence (+475), Oklahoma's Spencer Rattler (+1000), Texas' Sam Ehlinger (+1200) and then Newman (+1400). Other SEC quarterbacks among the favorites include Florida's Kyle Trask, who is tied for ninth with USC QB Kedon Slovis (+2500), Alabama QB Mac Jones and North Carolina QB Sam Howell. Tailback Zamir White is tied for 25th among the Heisman Trophy contenders listed (+6600). But White, like Newman, has yet to secure the starting spot at his position entering into what will be a unique yet still very competitive offseason. SEC teams are currently suspended from any on-campus activities and are social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic. Once play resumes, Georgia figures to be in as good as shape as any program in the nation. RELATED: 4 reasons why Georgia football set for title run in 2020 The Bulldogs, as a team, rank fourth among the national championship contenders, per the online odds. Clemson is the favorite to win the national championship (+275), followed by Ohio State (+350), Alabama (+550) and then Georgia (+900). LSU is No. 5 on the preseason odds list (+1000), with Florida No. 6 (+1200), Oklahoma No. 7 (+2000) and Auburn, Notre Dame, Oregon, Penn State, Texas and Texas A&M tied at No. 8 (+2500). Georgia football offseason reads WATCH: Monty Rice shows proof of 'invisible progress' at Georgia The post Georgia football, Jamie Newman stand tall among preseason favorites in updated odds 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. 1,162 (March 27, 2020) of the podcast, Georgia fans can hear a discussion about why one CBS writer thinks UGA was hurt by missing spring practice. Georgia football podcast: CBS writer says UGA among teams most hurt by missing spring practice Beginning of the show: Georgia's new offensive coordinator Todd Monken and quarterback Jamie Newman lead to a scenario in which the Bulldogs are among the teams most harmed by missing spring practice according to a recent article by a CBS Sports writer. I'll discuss more on that topic on today's show. 10-minute mark: I share my response to ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit's prediction that the upcoming season will be canceled due to coronavirus concerns. 15-minute mark: DawgNation's Connor Riley joins the show. Some of the topics covered include The fun the Atlanta Falcons are having after signing former UGA and Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley How UGA is impacted by not having spring practice And how college coaches should respond to the unprecedented challenges presented by dealing with the coronavirus 30-minute mark: I take a look at other SEC teams who didn't have the benefit of a spring practice including teams with new quarterbacks such as LSU and Alabama, and teams with new coaches such as Mississippi State and Missouri. 35-minute mark: I discuss Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly's proposed timeline for when coaches need access to their players in order to begin the season on time. End of show: I share the Gator Hater Updater. The post Georgia football podcast: CBS writer says UGA among teams most hurt by missing spring practice appeared first on DawgNation.