Okay, now it’s getting close. Georgia kicks off the college football season in twelve short hours.
Due to covering a spate of recent commitments and other news I almost ran out if time to finish our series on UGA players I project to emerge during 2017. But i just couldnt let it happen.
So here, in brief, are the remaining five UGA players I expect to step up this season.
#5- Richard Lecounte. If you haven’t had the chance to see Lecounte play, let me give you a heads up. As a five star recruit who’s already achieved mythical status in some corners of Bulldog Nation for his recruiting efforts, you’re going to be a little surprised that he’s not eight feet tall or built like Adonis.
But you’ll soon be surprised again when he makes an unexpected play. And then another. Richie Lecounte is just a football player. A damn good one who’s only going to get better. By the end of 2017 I expect him to have locked down one safety spot. He covers a lot of ground, can go up to get the ball, and is physical against the run. He’s also a vocal leader who doesn’t back down from anyone. Lecounte is the kind of player you can build a defensive identity around.
#4- Andrew Thomas. There is almost no limit to how good this guy can be. He has the feet, hips, and arms you look for in an elite left tackle. I think he ends up there, maybe before 2017 is over.
#3- J.R. Reed. Kirby Smart will tell you there ain’t but two things that make life worth living: guitars that tune good and aggressive, physical safeties. The Tulsa transfer is the latter. I am unbelievably excited about the prospect of Reed, Deangelo Gibbs, and Lecounte manning the safety spots for the next 3 years.
#2- Mecole Hardman. No surprise here. Hardman spent 2016 at corner trying to learn a position which didn’t necessarily showcase his outstanding ball skills and shiftiness in the open field. Hardman will do what it takes to succeed as a receiver. He’s a guy who has always had a strong work ethic, and game experience will only sharpen his edge.
There are so many ways that Mecole could be used, and whether or not Jim Chaney can pull them off will tell us a lot about whether he really is up to this job.
#1- Jacob Eason. Is it cheating to pick the most high profile player on the team for this spot? Maybe. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t accurate. Jacob Eason now has the experience of another offseason. He’ll play behind a better offensive line, and he’ll have more weapons at receiver and tight end than he could ever use.
Finally, he’s playing opposite a veteran defense that should create turnovers and positive field position. There are a lot of tailwinds shaping up to help Jacob Eason improve his numbers from 2016, which were pretty dang good for a true freshman SEC quarterback.
Can he step further into his leadership role? Can he be more accurate, especially on the deep ball, and more patient with his progressions? If the answer to these questions is "yes", Jacob Eason could be in for a huge year. Until later...