4 Oscar Delp
6 Daylen Everette
11 Jalon Walker
13 Mykel Williams
14 Gunner Stockton
18 Chandler Smith
20 JaCorey Thomas
23 De’Nylon Morrissette
24 Malaki Starks
27 C. J. Washington
66 Aliou Bah
71 Earnest Greene
95 Shone Washington
99 Bear Alexander
Since the 2016 season, every national champion has been led by a first-round pick at quarterback. Bennett probably ended that streak, and winning a national title is both a credit to his ability under center and Kirby Smart’s ability to recruit the team around him.
Oh, I think we can ditch “probably” there. All the more reason to credit him and Smart for building a team that defied the “must have super dynamic passing offense to win a natty” established wisdom. (Of course, that glosses over Georgia’s 6.98 offensive ypp number last season as the fourth best in the country.)
For years, Alabama sent receiver after receiver to the NFL, many in the first round. But the past 3 recruiting classes at Alabama have produced one impact player at the position: John Metchie III (from 2019).
The 2020 class of Thaiu Jones-Bell, Javon Baker and Traeshon Holden have combined for 33 career catches and 2 TDs, and the 2021 class of Ja’Corey Brooks, Agiye Hall, JoJo Earle and Christian Leary have 33 career catches and 3 TDs.
But for the addition of Jameson Williams from the transfer portal last season, Alabama’s wide receiver room would’ve been Metchie and possession receiver Slade Bolden – and not much else.
Now it’s clear why Alabama desperately wanted (and signed) Georgia portal transfer WR Jermaine Burton.
In the past 3 years, 7 high school recruits (not including Metchie) have combined for 66 catches and 5 TDs over 41 games at Alabama. That’s missing on recruits, and poor development. Or both.
For comparison’s sake, McConkey and Mitchell combined for 60 catches and 9 touchdowns over 15 games last season alone. Interesting, no?
Now 14 and a half months since Brooks stepped into that chair, one-third of Georgia’s head coaches are no longer in their jobs.
Whoa, baby, that’s a lot. And as Weiszer goes on to note, between the state of the gymnastics program and several coaches having more than three decades of service on their jobs, there may be more coming (going?) in the near future.
It’s a blessing for Brooks that the football program is on automatic pilot and doesn’t require more attention from him than authorizing spending, because that hiring plate looks pretty full right now. It’s a blessing for us Greg McGarity isn’t the AD facing all this turnover.
These Vols figure to be really good come the fall. Maybe not College Football Playoff good. After all, Alabama is still on the schedule. And defending national champion Georgia. And there’s an early road test at Pittsburgh, though the small-handed quarterback extraordinaire Kenny Pickett will be on some NFL roster by then.
But take away the Bama game, and maybe Georgia — though Bama will be played in a newly refurbished Neyland Stadium — and the Big Orange should be favored in every other contest…
An unexpectedly strong 7-6 record a year ago no doubt fuels a hope, if not expectation within Big Orange Country that this season could produce a 10-2 mark or better. [Emphasis added.]
… and your typical fan message board comment is that the author of the above presumably gets paid to write that stuff.
If this dude thinks the Vols are going to enter the Georgia game — in Athens! — as favorites, let’s just say I’d be willing to take that bet. Although you have to admit that national championship sort of pales in comparison with an unexpectedly strong 7-6 season. Sheesh.
Don’t tell me you wouldn’t like to watch a little more national championship action. Graham and Josh spend some time breaking down Georgia’s defensive plays here:
They mention it, but it bears some emphasis how much better Georgia defended that stack formation ‘Bama gashed them with in the SECCG. And the main reason for that was Metchie and Williams being out the improved play of William Poole. Honestly, I’m not sure we saw more improvement from a single player on Georgia’s defense than we saw from Poole over the course of three games to finish the season. Somebody did a helluva job coaching him up, and you have to feel good about his play going into 2022.
“And Georgia fans, don’t be turds. Enjoy this. Soak it up. It’s awesome. If you don’t win this year, it’s still not a failure. It’s a heck of a run. Back-to-back in the Playoff era hasn’t been done. So, to ask for a third I feel like it’s gluttonous. I feel like it’s not OK. But we’ll be in the mix.”-- David Pollack, On3.com, 5/9/23