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Reevaluating expectations for Georgia football’s No. 1 2020 recruiting class

Reevaluating expectations for Georgia football’s No. 1 2020 recruiting class

Reevaluating expectations for Georgia football’s No. 1 2020 recruiting class

Reevaluating expectations for Georgia football’s No. 1 2020 recruiting class

For the second time in three seasons, Georgia landed the nation's top signing class. The Georgia 2020 class will feature four 5-star players and 10 of the top 60 overall recruits in the 2020 class.

But with the already suspension of spring practice, which hinders early enrollees like Kendall Milton and Major Burns, and the uncertainty of when Georgia's campus will reopen and allow the rest of the 2020 signees to arrive in Athens, it might be a good idea to readjust or recalibrate what to expect from some of these newcomers.

And for as hyped up as the 2018 class was the previous No. 1 overall class Georgia signed it certainly hasn't lived up to those lofty expectations so far. Five of the top 12 players from that class have already transferred and only Trey Hill, Tyson Campbell, Azeez Ojulari and Jordan Davis have emerged as double-digit starters for the Bulldogs, The 2020 season figures to see more from the likes of Jamaree Salyer and Zamir White, but it's still unknown what they might bring to Georgia over the course of a full season.

Of course, the 2019 signing class, which finished No. 2 in the rankings, saw George Pickens become a borderline star and got meaningful contributions from the likes of Nolan Smith, Travon Walker, Tyrique Stevenson and Dominick Blaylock. Not every class ends up being created equally.

Georgia has signed four consecutive top-three recruiting classes. It isn't exactly expecting this 2020 class to play a significant role in the future of this team. The best version of the 2020 Georgia football team likely features big seasons from White, Pickens and Walker, and not so much Milton, Marcus Rosemy and Jalen Carter.

The Bulldogs though do have some holes that need to be filled and a handful of 2020 signees were going to be counted on to do so. Jamie Newman more or less counts as a signee after transferring in from Wake Forest. In all likelihood, he was going to be the starting quarterback. We've already discussed at length the impact this situation puts on him.

Related: With suspension of spring football, even more pressure falls on the shoulders of Jamie Newman

At running back, Milton would've competed with White, James Cook and Kenny McIntosh for carries this spring. We felt pretty confident he was going to turn some heads this spring with his combination of size and athleticism and do still expect the same from him come the fall. But he likely wasn't going to emerge as the starter or top option at the position.

If there's one position were Georgia was going to need the most out of the 2020 newcomers, it was likely tight end. The Bulldogs signed 5-star athlete Darnell Washington, a monster athlete with the body to be an early mismatch at the college level. But he's still a little raw, which is why the Bulldogs also brought in Florida State graduate transfer Tre' Mckitty. Neither would've been practicing with the team this spring but both enter the fall with significant expectations.

Georgia also rarely features tight ends, and certainly not as much as some in the fan base would like. New offensive coordinator Todd Monken only adds further mystery to the position.

The picture at wide receiver is probably closer to the running back spot than necessarily tight end. The Bulldogs did bring in five pass-catchers in the 2020 class, with Rosemy, Arian Smith and Jermaine Burton all entering the program as top-100 prospects. Justin Robinson was set to go through spring drills and the Bulldogs also added in-state prospect Ladd McConkey.

While Rosemy and Smith have specifically stated that they're coming to Georgia to possibly earn an early starting spot, the wide receiver situation isn't quite as dire as it was a season ago. It's still not great, but Georgia has a little bit more with the return of Pickens. Blaylock also should be a steady option if he's able to recover from his ACL injury. And there's also the likes of Kearis Jackson, Demetris Robertson and Matt Landers to name some known entities at the group.

As for the offensive line, where the Bulldogs signed seven prospects, Kirby Smart was already pumping the brakes on the idea of either Broderick Jones or Tate Ratledge coming in and pulling an Andrew Thomas, as the 2017 signee started every game at right tackle his freshman season.

"It'd be foolish of me to sit here and think that two of these tackles we just signed are going to walk in here and play," Smart said on National Signing Day. "Based on the history of the SEC, you do the study on how many freshmen offensive tackles have played. That's tough to find. It's hard to do."

Related: Recent history shows it's more likely Broderick Jones and Tate Ratledge redshirt than start

As for the defensive side of the ball, Georgia loses only three starters and a few rotational pieces. The bulk of the nation's top-scoring defense in 2019 was set to return and somehow even improve. Carter, 5-star cornerback Kelee Ringo and Mekhail Sherman all were likely to be competing for spots in the rotation at their position, but none of them were expected to come in start early, as Campbell did as a member of the 2018 class.

Georgia might not need a lot of starters from the 2020 group right away. But over the course of the season injuries happen and depth gets tested. So the Bulldogs are going to need contributions from this class, as every team does. Quarterback, wide receiver and tight end figure to be the positions where Georgia will need the most help right away.

The 2018 team didn't exactly get that kind of production and lost to Alabama in the SEC championship game. The 2017 team saw big-time contributions from the likes of Jake Fromm, Thomas and D'Andre Swift. That team ended up playing for a national championship.

That's what kind of difference a few of these freshmen and transfers could end up making.

More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation

The post Reevaluating expectations for Georgia football's No. 1 2020 recruiting class appeared first on DawgNation.

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  • ATHENS Scott Cochran is working for a man who believes in him at Georgia. Kirby Smart explained why he gave Cochran an opportunity to become an assistant coach with the Bulldogs. Fans and analysts have taken note, it's an opportunity Nick Saban would not provide Cochran at Alabama, even after his years of hard work and dedication and several staff openings. Smart didn't have anything to say about the Saban part of the equation, but he knows what he believes about Cochran's ability to transition. ' Scott and I have had a relationship for a long time, and when I think of good coaches, I think of guys that can relate to players,' Smart said on his Tuesday teleconference. RELATED: Kirby details position most affected by stoppage Cochran was long been considered one of the top, if not the very best, strength and conditioning coaches in the nation while working at Alabama since Saban took over the Tide program in 2007. Smart spent nine years helping Saban and Cochran build Alabama into a championship program, too, before taking over as Georgia head coach prior to the 2016 season. Cochran had made it known to Saban that he wanted to become a position coach but was rebuffed. According to one report, Saban was riding Cochran mercilessly' prior to his departure from Alabama this past offseason. RELATED: Nick Saban was harsh to Scott Cochran in front of staff Smart, having worked beside Cochran, had his own opinions on his new special team coordinator's abilities. Two things 'I've always judged a coach by two qualities,' said Smart, who hired Cochran on Feb. 24. RELATED: Kirby Smart welcomes Scott Cochran to Georgia family 'What is his ability to make players want to play for him? His relationship, do players want to run through the brick wall for their coach, do they respect their coach, do they want to play for their coach, can he relate to them in a personal way and get them to do something that maybe another coach can't. Does that separate him?' According to several who played at Alabama, Cochran definitely made a different for them in their development. WATCH: Tua Tagovailoa says Cochran backbone' to Alabama football Smart said the other area he judges a coach is 'their ability to recruit, and both of those two things in my nine years at Alabama, (Cochran) was outstanding at.' Some have suggested Smart is taking a chance by hiring Cochran to become a special teams coordinator when he has not previously held that position. But Smart had an answer for those critics and doubters, as well. 'He was always involved in some way, shape or form with special teams (at Alabama),' Smart said. 'That's always been something, even dating back to my days at LSU, that he was kind of the quality control guy at LSU that worked with special teams. So his background has been around that.' Staff workings Furthermore, Smart said he'll remain involved in special teams himself, and UGA keeps its entire staff involved in that area of the game. 'We've certainly had a staff full of guys, Glenn Schumann, Dan Lanning, Todd Hartley, Cortez, Dell, Chartlon, have all had special teams duties in their career,' Smart said. 'So this is not like Scott Cochran is the only special teams guy on our staff. We have an immense amount of knowledge and experience on special teams. They'll draw on that. Scott will be the special teams coordinator. But we'll use the entire staff to help with that.' RELATED: Nick Saban reacts to Georgia hiring Scott Cochran Bottom line, as Smart said when Cochran was hired, is that he believes his long-time friend will provide a lift across the board at Georgia. 'The big part was hiring Scott,' Smart said, 'because we felt like he brought a lot to the table in terms of the entire organization.' Georgia football offseason reads WATCH: Monty Rice shows proof of 'invisible progress' at Georgia Georgia football odds on title run and Heisman Trophy winner J.R. Reed explains why UGA won't be 'No-name' defense much longer Georgia offense has areas where much to be determined The post Kirby Smart: Why Georgia gave Scott Cochran opportunity that Nick Saban wouldn't appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Kirby Smart says the football position affected most by the universal sports stoppage is quarterback, where Georgia will be breaking in a new starter next season. 'There's no substitute for reps out on the field,' Smart said during his Tuesday teleconference. 'We can't argue that we're not going to lose reps. 'If you had to say who does this affect the most it's going to affect the quarterback more than anything, in my opinion.' Smart didn't want to speculate on when college football might resume amid the coronavirus pandemic, preferring to defer to more educated authorities. RELATED: Kirby Smart shares staff's top priority during sports break But the Bulldogs' fifth-year head coach was comfortable talking about his team, and how his players and staff are handling these unprecedented times. Georgia is among the national favorites once the action resumes. The Bulldogs were ranked No. 3 behind Clemson and Ohio State in the USA Today's post-spring preseason Top 25. RELATED: Georgia football jumps 8 spots in offseason rankings Georgia is regarded by many to have the best defense in the nation returning, with 9 of 11 starters back off a Sugar Bowl team that finished No. 4 in the nation and went 5-1 vs. Top 25. Opposing quarterbacks will be challenged by Smart's defense whenever action resumes. But the Bulldogs have their work cutout on offense, too. Wake Forest graduate transfer Jamie Newman is expected to win the starting job at quarterback. But redshirt junior Stetson Bennett, redshirt freshman D'Wan Mathis and incoming freshman Carson Beck are all competing. RELATED: QB trainer says Jamie Newman will excel quickly Smart said Newman was able to get plenty of throwing in during the voluntary workouts portion of offseason conditioning. 'I feel like he was starting to get some rhythm, he got to throw a lot with those guys in their own time, the time that they elected,' Smart said. 'He and Stetson and Carson and D'Wan would all go out there and throw with our wideouts.' RELATED: Mathis continues comeback from brain surgery in Athens Smart said Georgia maximized the NCAA allowances during the offseason conditioning portion of the sports calendar prior to the scheduled start of spring drills. 'We were able to meet leading up to spring practice, a lot of people forget that, we were able to have walkthrough, leading up to spring practice,' Smart said. 'We maximized that time and knew that we needed that time.' Smart had no idea spring drills would be canceled, but he knew he had an offense that was under construction. 'Knowing we had new quarterbacks, and a new offensive system,' Smart said. 'We had to make sure we spent time with that, so we spent a lot of time with that.' Georgia football offseason reads WATCH: Monty Rice shows proof of 'invisible progress' at Georgia Why Scott Sinclair keys positive culture shift under Kirby Smart Georgia football odds on title run and Heisman Trophy winner J.R. Reed explains why UGA won't be 'No-name' defense much longer Georgia offense has areas where much to be determined The post Kirby Smart: Football stoppage will affect quarterbacks more than anything' appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Kirby Smart says he's like everyone else, 'trying to figure out what the new normal is' amid the sports stoppage triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. The fifth-year Georgia football coach can't be on the field with his players, but he's doing everything he can to look out for them. 'The number one thing we do is try to worry about the well-being of our players and making sure their families are ok,' Smart said on Tuesday, speaking on 680 AM and a teleconference. 'We've tried to encourage them through conversation and talking to them and spending time with them over the phone. 'The biggest thing is control what you can control, take care of your own health first.' Smart and the Bulldogs were scheduled to be taking the field for their seventh practice on Tuesday. Instead, daily staff meetings are being held via video conference. 'It's an adjustment for everybody out there,' Smart said. The NCAA canceled the spring sports practices, seasons and championships on March 12 amid the coronavirus pandemic. The SEC has suspended all on-campus activity. Georgia, most recently ranked No. 3 in USA Today's preseason rankings behind Clemson and Ohio State, is scheduled to open the season on Monday, Sept. 7 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium against Virginia. Georgia returns nine starters from defense and five off the offense that took the field against Baylor in the Sugar Bowl. 'It's been a different three or four weeks than I've ever experienced,' Smart said. 'I can't speculate on what I don't know. We don't know a lot about the future and what that holds, so I'm not gonna sit back and say this is what I think should happen. 'The number one things is the well-being of our players,' Smart said. 'We're trying everything we can to make sure they have everything they need.' Georgia football offseason reads WATCH: Monty Rice shows proof of 'invisible progress' at Georgia Why Scott Sinclair keys positive culture shift under Kirby Smart Georgia football odds on title run and Heisman Trophy winner J.R. Reed explains why UGA won't be 'No-name' defense much longer Georgia offense has areas where much to be determined The post Georgia football coach Kirby Smart: Control what you can control' appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Many questioned Isaiah Wilson's decision to declare himself eligible for the NFL draft with two years of eligibility remaining. But interviews with Wilson at the NFL combine, and more recently on ESPN, reveal a young man who places a high value on his family. RELATED: Colorful and caring, Isaiah Wilson a popular teammate Wilson explained to DawgNation at the combine in Indianapolis last month his decision to skip Georgia's 26-14 bowl win over Baylor. 'I took off from the bowl season to spend time with my family,' Wilson said. 'I'm from New York. My family stayed in New York when I went to Georgia, and I spent probably a total of eight days with them in a three-year period. 'I just wanted to get home and spend a little time with my mom, and my dad, and my brother, before I embarked on this journey.' The 6-foot-6, 350-pound Wilson has been projected to be selected between the second and fourth round of the NFL draft. Isaiah Wilson's NFL draft stock rising, per 7-round CBS mock But wherever he gets selected, he told ESPN host Laura Rutledge it will be a tearful moment for his mother when his name gets called. As @AdamSchefter has reported, the NFL Draft will look a lot different this year but the emotions for families in the middle of it will be the same. @_LayZay_ illustrates that beautifully here: pic.twitter.com/Mg8OuRqYS7 Laura Rutledge (@LauraRutledge) March 29, 2020 'I think she's going to be speechless, genuinely,' Wilson said. 'I don't think she's going to have a lot of words. She may say, I'm proud of you' after about 10 minutes of crying. But I think initially she's going to cry for a long, long time.' There has been a lot of hard work and sacrifice behind the scenes, said Wilson, who hails from Brooklyn, N.Y. and attended Poly Prep 'In youth leagues I had to pay for membership to play and all that good stuff,' Wilson said. 'High school, I went to a prestigious private high school that was 40k a year in tuition. It was more than some colleges out there, and she made it work. 'I wasn't on full athletic scholarship, because it was just so much, and she had to make ends meet. 'She had to sacrifice weekends where she was supposed to be resting to take me to practice or take me to a game,' Wilson said. It didn't take long for the sacrifices to pay off once Wilson was at Georgia. Wilson started and earned FWAA Freshman All-American honors in 2018 after redshirting the 2017 campaign. Last season, Wilson overcame an ankle injury to help anchor the offensive line. NFL.com projects Wilson as a player who will be a starter in the next two seasons at football's highest level, even though he needs more work on his technique. 'I would say I'm big, strong, fast and athletic,' Wilson said last month in Indianapolis. 'My football I.Q. is pretty good, so the playbook won't be a problem. 'I come from a Pro Style system. It was a Pro Style Spread (at UGA), which is making its way into the NFL.' But more than anything, Wilson likes sharing that he comes from a father and mother that loves and supports him. 'That's 12 years of your weekends just gone, so the time she's put in, and financial support she's put in, emotional support of when things got tough to keep my head up and help me push through certain adversity, she's done a ton, and so has my dad,' Wilson said. 'They've both broke their backs to help me to get into this position.' DawgNation Georgia NFL draft stories D'Andre Swift NFL draft stock breakdown from Mel Kiper Jr. Mel Kiper Jr. Top 10 position rankings feature several UGA players Georgia football Mauler' Solomon Kindley on Atlanta Falcons radar Andrew Thomas in first-class form at NFL combine Isaiah Wilson sheds light on 2020 Georgia O-Line Jake Fromm, Jacob Eason reunite anf NFL combine Lawence Cager message at NFL combine high ceiling' D'Andre Swift draft stock makes Georgia football RBU' again Jake Fromm evaluation, comparison, per former Super Bowl scout Georgia OL Isaiah Wilson The post WATCH: Former Georgia OL Isaiah Wilson reveals years of family sacrifice appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS The Division I Council voted on Monday to permit schools to allow their respective spring sport athletes an extra season of competition and another year of eligibility. Winter sports athletes, however, were not granted the extension. Most or all of their regular seasons were completed, with the notable exception of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. Per the NCAA release: 'Division I rules limit student-athletes to four seasons of competition in a five-year period. The Council's decision allows schools to self-apply waivers to restore one of those seasons of competition for student-athletes who had competed while eligible in the COVID-19-shortened 2020 spring season' The much-anticipated eligibility announcement came on Monday, with much of the world still at a standstill where sports and group gatherings were concerned on account of the coronavirus pandemic. Financial guidelines were granted some relief per the new measures. This will allow spring sports programs to carry more scholarship athletes on the teams to account or incoming signees. It's good news for the Georgia baseball team. The Bulldogs, ranked No. 3 when the season was suspended, was expected to contend for an SEC championship. The Bulldogs have four seniors. Starting shortstop Cam Shepherd and first baseman Patrick Sullivan are two of the seniors who might now return. One key provision within that roster expansion, however, is that schools do not have to provide the same amount of student aid to the returning seniors granted the eligibility extension. It will be up to the Division I schools to assume financial responsibilities to account for the additional scholarship positions. 'The Council's decision gives individual schools the flexibility to make decisions at a campus level,' Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Penn, said in the NCAA.org release. 'The Board of Governors encouraged conferences and schools to take action in the best interest of student-athletes and their communities, and now schools have the opportunity to do that.' The post NCAA votes to grant spring sports athletes extra year of eligibility appeared first on DawgNation.