Has Georgia reached the “reload, not rebuild” stage?

Or, as Marc Weiszer calls it, retooling.

As the final wave of UGA football players announcing their plans for 2021 wound down, Georgia inside linebackers coach Glenn Schumann provided a visual reminder of the ever changing nature of college football.

He posted photos on his Twitter account with incoming linebackers Xavier Sorey and Smael Mondon welcoming two of the four five-star signees in the Bulldogs latest recruiting class to campus.

Georgia’s talent base is at the level that neither will have be counted on to be instant impact players for the Bulldogs.

One reason why is because of whom Georgia brings back as starters.  Here’s the list:

  • JT Daniels, QB
  • Stetson Bennett, QB
  • Zamir White, RB
  • George Pickens, WR
  • Jermaine Burton, WR
  • Darnell Washington, TE
  • John FitzPatrick, TE
  • Jamaree Salyer, OL
  • Justin Shaffer, OG
  • Warren McClendon, OT
  • Jordan Davis, NG
  • Devonte Wyatt, DT
  • Nakobe Dean, ILB
  • Chris Smith, SS
  • Lewis Cine, S

Retooling isn’t confined to the returning starters, either.  As Seth Emerson points out ($$), the Dawgs are poised to return an obscene amount of offensive productivity.

• 94 percent of its receiving yards from last season, a hugely important number if the lesson of the 2019 season means anything.

• 98 percent of its rushing yards, led by White but also James Cook, whose skills were finally unlocked by first-year offensive coordinator Todd Monken.

The defense isn’t quite as loaded, but there’s a notable stockpile of talent on that side of the ball as well.

Davis, defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt and inside linebacker and leading tackler Nakobe Dean should make the Bulldogs hard to run on again after the Bulldogs led the nation in stopping the run and Quay Walker (fourth in tackles) can step in as a starter at inside linebacker

The Bulldogs’ secondary had struggles in 2020 and was hit hard with the departures of underclassmen Stokes and Campbell declaring for the NFL draft as expected. Add to that sophomore Tyrique Stevenson is in the transfer portal and it will be an overhaul for a unit that already was losing safety Richard LeCounte, nickel back Mark Webb and cornerback DJ Daniel.

… Georgia’s defense can lean on former five-stars to fill holes including defensive lineman Jalen Carter and Travon Walker, outside linebackers Adam Anderson (6 ½ sacks) and Nolan Smith and cornerback Keelee Ringo who didn’t play this season.

Ringo was practicing with the team at season’s end and dressed out for the bowl game. Four-star cornerback signee Nyland Green also could be in position to get early playing time.

(By the way, both kickers return, too.)

If there’s one area where a red flag could be raised, it’s the secondary.  There is little experience at the corner positions, in particular, something that will need to be addressed in one form or fashion.  As Weiszer writes, “Smart should be mining the transfer portal for a plug-and-play cornerback like the Bulldogs did to add to other positions of need last year.”  (Fortunately, there do appear to be a few candidates in the portal already.)

Which brings us to the touchy subject of roster management.  Smart faces some real challenges, something he’s noted before, partially driven by the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA in the face of the coronavirus’ impact on the 2020 schedule, partially driven by the depth at certain positions due to no one taking an early departure to the NFL draft (as one commenter put it last night, “But happy as I am about Zeus and Cook returning, not sure McIntosh, Milton and Edwards will want to share time with them instead of transferring to a program with a less crowded RB room.”).

Not that enjoying an overload of talent at a particular position is such a bad thing to have.  Still, it will likely force some uncomfortable decisions in the next few months, some by the coaching staff, some by the players themselves.  The tricky part for Kirby will come in managing the timing so that he doesn’t get caught short by a sudden move that leaves the team vulnerable at a key position (*** cough *** cough *** Newman ***).  At this point, it doesn’t appear that preparing an early departure for the NFL draft is a major concern, but the transfer portal taketh as well as giveth, and there’s still plenty of time between now and the summer for musical chairs to be played.


Filed under Georgia Football

30 responses to “Has Georgia reached the “reload, not rebuild” stage?

  1. Hogbody Spradlin

    Roster management? Well, it beats the opposite problem.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. armydawg

    I think that fully reloading will wait till the 2022 season. By then, the backups should have enough playing time & experience to step right into their starting roles. With all the inexperience in the secondary it can’t be termed as a reload. Starting next year and going forward assuming that recruiting stays at a high level it will be reloading.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Down Island Way

      Given the evolution of college football, offensively, $$$ wise, crootin’ and on, the sport is always in flux which means rebuilding is an on going situation…when a program gets to that reloading stage, then and only then can programs change direction/scheme/philosophy without any/few hiccups…and still survive with little baby ripples…


    • RangerRuss

      Ahhhhh feel as if the Dawgs have a basic load of 270 and damn close to 540 reload in a sandbag. QB quality depth is worrisome as always. Secondary? Kirby is on the mutha.
      Go Dawgs!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Granthams Replacement

    CB is a position where raw athletic ability can make up for experience. Star requires a high mental football IQ. I have more concern with who starts at the star position, then injuries during the season.


  4. dawg100

    Campbell, not ready for NFL IMO, and Stevenson, homesick, really hurt along with Prime Time stealing a plug and play DB.

    Need 2 good transfers I suppose!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ran A

    From what I’ve read, Kirby isn’t going to grab somebody just to grab somebody. Case in point, a starter for North Carolina went into the portal and Georgia made no move for this kid.

    The next opportunity will apparently come after spring practices, where depth charts are established. The catch to that is Georgia could lose some really good talent to the portal then as well.

    It’s very talented back in that room. It’s just very young talent. Especially cannot wait to see Ringo on the field (but he isn’t a corner).


  6. Jim Ludlam

    Dominick Blaylock was a 2019 starter too… Really hope he recovers.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Bulldawg Bill

    As I’ve said before, we also have to see what happens during the post G-day week(s). Someone always gets in “dutch”.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. gurkhadawg

    I missed why Stevenson entered the portal. Can anyone fill me in?


  9. Russ

    Don’t forget Jalen Kimber as well. We have plenty of talent for the secondary. I’m counting on Kirby to coach it up.

    When Arik Gilbert transfers in, can we add him as a returning starter?

    Also, looking at starters doesn’t mean quite as much given how much the defense has substituted. If you look at snaps returning, the story isn’t as bad.


    • Corch Irvin Meyers, New USC Corch (2021)

      With Gilbert not immediately declaring for Georgia within a day or two of entering the portal, it’s looking less and less likely we’re his destination. Both Bama and the ‘turds are stronger candidates now.


      • I thought his reason for transferring was being home sick, as well. Is it not? Seems odd he would leave Baton Rouge for Gainesville if that is the case.


        • Corch Irvin Meyers, New USC Corch (2021)

          Everyone keeps saying that like it’s some kind of gospel truth.

          Firstly, yeah, it was reported that was a reason.

          Secondly, it could be a complete and total lie.


    • munsonlarryfkajim

      If Gilbert joins and we claim his stats maybe we can have more than 100pct of our offensive production returning…


  10. Milton looks promising, so I hope he doesn’t ride the pine so Zamir White can keep running headfirst into our O-linemen’s backs. That #8 for Bama who was backing up Najee looked bigger, stronger, faster and had better vision than anyone on our roster. We need a game changer in the backfield.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. originaluglydawg

    We need to get the terminology straight.
    “Reloading” describes Georgia’s player replacement process.
    “Retooling” describes Tennessee’s Head Coach replacement process.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Kirby to the RB room: “You stay, earn your reps, build a championship or you go elsewhere, run around for two years with nothing to show for it. One way gets you paid more in the NFL. I’ll be back in 5 expecting your decisions.”

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Dylan Dreyer's Booty

    I looked at the portal link and there are a ton of players in it. However, there aren’t that many stars in the defensive backfield area. Tyrique has four stars and most of the other 4 stars are committed. CKS and staff can look for rough gems in the 3 star group, but we may be better off coaching up what we have.

    The other thing I noticed is that every SEC school has someone in the portal, but I could not find one from Alabama. I know they are losing a lot and non-starters are going to be looking to compete, but you would think there would be at least one.