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The player that will gain the most out of spring practice at each position
(Photo from UGA Football Twitter)
Georgia football is set to begin spring practice on March, while the annual G-Day game falls on April 17. The Bulldogs have 16 new early enrollees on-campus, which is the most ever in program history.
On top of that, Georgia returns a ton of talent on both sides of the ball. As the start of camp nears, DogWatch takes a look at what player has the most to gain out of spring practice at each position.
With Malik Herring gone, it’s time for junior Travon Walker to fill the top spot at defensive end. So, that’s why I’ve gone with Walthour here as the player at this position to gain the most from spring practice. The Hinesville, Ga. native saw action in 10 games last season, but only recorded one tackle and it came against Florida.
There’s no doubt that Walker will have a significant impact and record big numbers in 2021, but he will have to come off the field at times. Thus, Walthour should be the next guy on the depth chart to play snaps. Spring practice is important because the former Hutchinson Community College standout can show the coaching staff that he’s finally ready to play more snaps.
It won’t be easy though because Walthour will be competing for playing time against freshman and former four-star prospect Jonathan Jefferson. At 6-foot-3, 280-pounds, Walthour is a physical presence that has now been with the program for two years. So, it’s time for him to show the coaching staff that he can a dependable guy moving forward. He will also have to fend off Jalen Carter, who might receive snaps at defensive end, too.
Georgia’s stacked at the defensive tackle position with Carter, Devonte Wyatt, Nazir Stackhouse, Warren Brinson, Tyrion Ingram-Dawkins, Bill Norton and Marlin Dean.
That’s a load.
All of these guys have the potential to earn playing time for the fall, but Carter has the biggest upside out of all of them. As a former five-star, Carter has already shown his physical capabilities on the field in 2020, but this spring he can finally put everything together as he prepares for his sophomore campaign.
Carter was a lot to handle for opposing interior offensive linemen last season. As a freshman, he finished with 14 total tackles and 3.0 tackles for loss. His biggest competition for the starting job is Wyatt, so Carter has to have a big spring camp if he wants a leg up on his teammate heading into summer workouts. The Apopka, Fl. native could be one of the conference’s best defenders in 2021, but he’ll need to show the coaching staff this spring that he can separate himself from his competition.
Both Georgia and Logue benefit from getting Jordan Davis back for one more year.
Davis is the glue that holds this defense together and is a fan favorite. Logue has the potential to be just as talented and can benefit tremendously this year with Davis returning. Logue is still learning the playbook, even though he’s been with UGA for two years already. So, a breakout year could be forthcoming if he can have a solid spring.
Logue doesn’t have a lot of playing time under his belt, so watching and competing alongside Davis can only make him better. The Lebanon, Tn. native doesn’t take up as much space as Davis does, but he sure can hit hard. At times last season, Logue showed why he’s capable of competing at the collegiate level. He had a huge hit against Florida that changed the course of the Gators’ drive in the loss. Even though he only played in five games last season, the 2021 spring camp will give him the opportunity to present to the coaching staff why he should be on the field.
Smith was once the nation’s top-ranked player and now he’s heading into his junior year at UGA. He’s shown his freakish athleticism in the past, but this year he should be the starter at the SAM position. I think it’s fair to say that he hasn’t made a huge impact yet on the defensive side of the ball for Georgia. So, hopefully, 2021 can be Smith’s year where he can show the coaching staff consistency. He’s a hard worker that can be an All-SEC standout if he can start producing like he did in high school.
Smith’s had a tough road for playing time, despite being seen as a monster on the field. The past two seasons, he’s had to compete with Azeez Ojulari and Jermaine Johnson, but both of those guys have since left the program. Hence why spring practice is important for Smith because he’s going to hold off talented freshmen in Xavien Sorrey and Smael Mondon. That duo expected to get some looks at the SAM position as well. Look for Smith to continue to excel in his junior campaign and show NFL scouts why he once was the No. 1-rated player out of prep ball.
Adam Anderson/Robert Beal
Georgia’s JACK position will have a battle this spring as two seniors will compete for the top spot heading into the fall.
Adam Anderson has proven to be an efficient pass rusher but hasn’t gotten the chance to be consistent enough because of limited playing time. Anderson has had to compete with Ojulari over the last couple of years for snaps. So, spring practice is important for No. 19 as he prepares for his senior season and possibly the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft. Anderson racked up 6.5 sacks in 10 games last season and has waited his turn in line on the depth chart. But, Anderson is going to have to add some weight in the offseason to really fit the normal build of the position.
Robert Beal is another senior who is talented but hasn’t had the chance to make a real impact yet. He’s gone about his business over the last four years and has been a player any coach would ask for; he’s a hard-working and loyal individual. Beal has played in 24 games over the last three years totaling 23 sacks, 1.5 tackles for loss and 1.0 sacks. The Norcross, Ga. native is known as a workhorse and spring is when he can show the coaching staff why he deserves to be on the field more. He has some talented underclassmen behind him, so that should add fuel to the fire.
Nakobe Dean should be the starter come fall, but he will not be participating due to an injury. He and senior Channing Tindall should get most of the snaps, so spring practice is important for redshirt sophomore Trezmen Marshall to show he’s the “next man up” on the depth chart. Even though Marshall had shoulder surgery last fall, he should be ready to go this month. The Clinch County product played in 14 games in 2019 and had five total stops. Last season, he limited action in three of 10 contests.
This spring is important because Marshall will be looking to make the transition from special teams to a full-time defender. In 2020, he was a member of the Bulldogs’ kickoff coverage unit. This is another slot where Mondon and Sorrey could see playing time, so Marshall’s veteran knowledge will have to show this spring if he wants to be third on the depth chart.
(In Georgia’s system, the MONEY position used to be called the WILL)
Undoubtedly, senior Quay Walker will be the starter here, so Rian Davis is who I chose to gain the most out of spring practice at this position. There’s a chance that Tindall will slide over, but Davis could stake his claim at the No. 2 spot on the depth chart with a strong spring performance. Walker has been apart of the inside linebackers group for the past three years, but this should be his first year as a full-time starter.
As good of a player as Walker is, he’s struggled in the past in coverage and pass rush. So, Davis is a guy to watch at G-Day because he’s progressed since arriving on campus in 2019, despite having limited playing time. The redshirt sophomore saw action in seven of 10 games last season, but mainly on the kick return unit. Although, he did have an impressive tackle against Missouri in Georgia’s blowout win. Look for Davis to compete and have a leg up on James Dumas-Johnson, who arrives in Athens in the early summer.
The loss of Tyrqiue Stevenson puts new UGA defensive backs coach Jahmil Addai in a bad spot and there are a lot of different ways that this could pan out. It’s almost guaranteed that seniors Latavious Brini and William Poole will play a lot at STAR, but they will be used sparingly at other positions as well. So, that really raises the question as to who will be the third guy on the depth chart. In my opinion, I would say that former three-star Javon Bullard could be that guy.
First, he’s already on campus and will be competing for playing time at spring practice. He was recruited to Georgia as a cornerback, and could play there some this season, but he fits best here (at least for now). Bullard draws a lot of comparisons to Stevenson, especially in build; both are 6-foot and slender defensive backs. The Milledgeville, Ga. native will have to add a little bit of weight and learn the defense before stepping on the field, though. Kirby Smart is a big fan of cross-training his defensive backs, so other young guys could slide in this spot at different times, too.
Nyland Green/Kelee Ringo
I am going to double up here since there’s a lot to cover (pun intended).
Freshman Nyland Green and redshirt freshman Kelee Ringo should be the most talented corners in the position group, although neither of them have touched the field yet in a Bulldog uniform. I’m not skipping over Ameer Speed but these guys should be the frontrunners heading into fall camp. That being said, each one is going to have to impress Smart, Addai and defensive coordinator Dan Lanning.
Speed should be the top guy on the depth chart followed by sophomore Jalen Kimber, but like the STAR position, the top two cornerback spots are going to be interchangeable. Still, I think that with a strong spring camp, both Ringo and Green could be starting against Clemson if everything goes right for them. Ringo is coming off shoulder surgery but should be fully ready to make an impression on the coaching staff in a couple of weeks. For Green, he was one of the most sought out corners in the country in this past recruiting class (as was Ringo in the 2020 cycle), but he will have to get adjusted to the speed at this level.
Senior Chris Smith and junior Lewis Cine should start at strong and free safety, respectively. They are the veterans and should hold down those two spots, but like STAR, the depth chart at safety as thin. So, Major Burns should play a huge impact next season. He’s only been with the program for one year, but he has a chance to develop into an All-SEC safety by the time he leaves Georgia.
The one thing Burns will need to do is bulk up in the offseason. He’s too thin in my opinion, but has the raw talent to compete at this level. Don’t be surprised if Brini plays some at one of the safety positions, either. So, even though Burns doesn’t have a lot of competition, he will have to develop his craft over the next couple of months before fall camp. Another notable name to watch is freshman David Daniel, who could play next season as well.