More evidence of what the incredible shrinking class of 2013 hath wrought:
If you thought you saw a lot of freshmen on the field for Georgia this past Saturday, you were right. The Bulldogs played 11 true freshmen in the season opener against North Carolina. They also played two redshirt freshmen and two graduate transfers, so there were a lot of new faces on the field for UGA.
Tight end Charlie Woerner and punter Marshall Long were the only true freshman to start. The others that played were quarterback Jacob Eason, tailback Brian Herrien, defensive back Tyrique McGhee, defensive tackle Julian Rochester, receiver Riley Ridley, tight end Isaac Nauta, linebacker Jaleel Laguins, defensive end David Marshall, defensive tackle Tyler Clark and defensive tackle Michail Carter.
Graduate transfers Tyler Catalina (left tackle) and Maurice Davis (Nickelback) also started. So Georgia got some immediate impact from its 2016 recruiting class.
“To me, (that) is a lot,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “… (Twelve) true freshmen playing in that kind of game is pretty unique in my opinion. It was a tight game, back-and-forth. We knew it was going to be that way. We knew the guys that played were going to play.”
That’s further validation of just how young Georgia’s 2016 team is. Consider that the Bulldogs played a total of 22 true freshmen last season – including 19 in the first game — which was the most in the nation, according to UGA. In all, 33 Bulldogs played the first snaps of their careers last season.
Expect that number to go up this week. Tailback Elijah Holyfield and defensive back Mecole Hardman are among several newbies expected to get their first action against Nicholls State, which visits Sanford Stadium on Saturday.
It would have been easy to chuckle over Kirby’s post signing day scavenging for players, but considering the contributions he got from Catalina, Herrien and Smith Saturday, he’s getting the last laugh. Just don’t forget this team has a lot of growing up to do this season.