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2022 Dawgs roster rundown: A week from signing day and the questions won’t end soon

Syndication: Online Athens Joshua L. Jones / USA TODAY NETWORK

Welcome to your regularly scheduled roster breakdown article, off it’s regular schedule. See between the holdiays and COVID, I fell behind. Or honestly, the daunting task of trying to do this math before the transfer portal really gets active, or we learn what players are willing to take advantage of super senior options thanks to the NCAA’s COVID rules change on eligibility, and things of that nature, I was reluctant to do this. Particularly with NIL rights changing the economics of players’ willingness to seek the cash of the NFL or other career.

But in the spirit of the season, I figured I’d take on this Herculean task of trying to figure out just who may be a part of your 2022 Georgia Bulldawgs football team (and also not strain something patting myself on the back).

To be upfront, this number is going to be huge, and include several players who all but surely won’t be on the team. But without knowing who is thinking what in terms of coming back for an extra senior season, or is looking at moving on in the transfer portal, it’s hard to really know. And also, I’m too lazy to see exactly how the NCAA has shifted the 85 max on scholarship to account for super senior eligibility and such. But it can give us an idea of the difficult job Kirby and his staff have in terms of logistics to keep all this straight.

QB- Stetson Bennett (Sr), JT Daniels (Sr), Carson Beck (So), Brock Vandagriff (rsFR), Gunner Stockton (Fr) - Yeah, I don’t expect all five of these guys to wear silver britches next year. But don’t ask me to bet which one won’t be, aside from being all but certain Stockton will. Does Bennett take advantage of super senior options, and decide to stick around for one more season? Or does he decide to move on to the next step? Does Daniels come back to fight for the starting job or transfer to an easier path to playing time? Beck and/or Vandagriff see a path to future starts? I wouldn’t be shocked if any one of the four are back, or are gone. And there’s a pretty reasonable argument for either answer. But the pressure will be on Monken and his staff to figure out this jumbled mess with the fan base become so hyper focused on the continued QB concerns under Kirby.

RB- Zamir White (Sr), Kenny McIntosh (Sr), Kendall Milton (Jr), Daijun Edwards (Jr), Branson Robinson (Fr) - Not a bad crew, depending on if White comes back, or McIntosh. Milton and Edwards can both carry the load, and Robinson should be an impact player too. The room looks better with White and McIntosh, even if it loses a little wiggle with the all but certain NFL departure of James Cook (he could conceivably come back, but that seems unrealistic at best). It does look like this position needs to be prioritized for the 2023 signing class though with all but Robinson being upperclassmen next year.

WR- George Pickens (Sr), Kearis Jackson (Sr), Jermaine Burton (Jr), Dominick Blaylock (Jr), Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint (Jr), AD Mitchell (So), Ladd McConkey (So), Justin Robinson (So), Arian Smith (So), CJ Smith (Fr), Cole Speer (Fr), De’Nylon Morrissette (Fr) - It’s a deep group, especially when you add in TEs that can function split wide too. So it seems folks wanting Kirby to “throw the damn ball” are going to get their wish as the offense is much deeper at receiver than rusher. Now, Pickens may well go pro. And one or two may transfer out (also Kirby could target a playmaker to transfer in), but if everyone comes back that can come back, and of course the QB ? gets answered positively, then we could be in for the offense fans are crying to see. I’m not including Arik Gilbert cause who knows what is the plan for him.

TE- John Fitzpatrick (Sr), Darnell Washington (Jr), Brett Seither (Jr), Ryland Goede (Jr), Brock Bowers (So), Oscar Delp (Fr) - This is gonna be fun to watch when Washington is fully healthy, and Bowers can continue on his impact trajectory. Fitzpatrick is solid, and Delp can come along at his own speed. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Seither or Goede go elsewhere to get playing time. But with Bowers, Washington, and Fitzpatrick, 2022 will be a good year for TEs in Athens.

OL- Warren Ericson (Sr), Justin Shaffer (Sr), Owen Condon (Sr), Warren McClendon (Jr), Xavier Truss (Jr), Clay Webb (Jr), Broderick Jones (So), Tate Ratledge (So), Cameron Kinnie (So), Amarius Mims (So), Sedrick Van Pran-Granger (So), Chad Lindberg (So), Devin Willock (So), Dylan Fairchild (rsFR), Micah Morris (rsFR), Jared Wilson (rsFR), Aliou Bah (Fr), Drew Bobo (Fr), Jacob Hood (Fr), Griffin Scroggs (Fr) - I assume Sayler is a top 3 round pick, but Shaffer gets iffy. He’s probably 6th/7th/undrafted free agent, although he certainly gets a look at some NFL teams’ training camp next year. But what is the value to him for that, or would he rather return for a super senior season (with NIL deals to supplement income that could otherwise come from the NFL) and continue towards a grad degree? Only he can answer that. But Ericson is just a junior now/senior next year, and should be back at RG. VPG has been excellent at C, and he’s back, along with McClendon at RT to solidify that side of the line. Jones has played well at LT when Sayler was out, and between him and Mims can handle LT. LG could be Truss, or Shaffer perhaps, or any of the others above. It’s a fluid group but appears well stocked for next year with four returning starters depending on how one thinks of Jones’ handful of starts while Sayler was hurt.

DL- Tramel Wathour (Sr), Jalen Carter (Jr), Tymon Mitchell (Jr), Zion Logue (Jr), Warren Brinson (Jr), Nazir Stackhouse (Jr), Bill Norton (Jr), Marlin Dean (rsFR), Jonathan Jefferson (rsFR), Bear Alexander (Fr), Shone Washington (Fr), Marvin Jones, Jr (Fr), Mykel Williams (Fr) - I assume Davis, Travon Walker, and Devonte Wyatt are all NFL bound. And they’re some big shoes to fill for Carter and the others who will still be here. I’d suspect we might look at the transfer portal to strengthen this crew too. But the staff has done a good job recruiting and developing DL, so maybe one of this bunch emerges from Jordan Davis’ sizeable shadow next year to be the next star. I include Jones and Williams here as being 250+ already, they only get bigger in college and will likely be DE/OLB more than OLB who put a hand in the dirt on obvious passing downs.

LB- Nolan Smith (Sr), Robert Beal (Sr), MJ Sherman (Jr), Rian Davis (Jr), Trezman Marshall (Jr), Chaz Chambliss (So), Smael Mondon (So), Jamon Dumas-Johnson (So), Xavian Sorey (rsFR), CJ Madden (Fr), Jalon Walker (Fr), CJ Washington (Fr) - Dean, Tindall, Quay Walker are certainly gone. Adam Anderson too. Nolan Smith may be just undersized enough, and without the high sack numbers, that with NIL able to offset lost income, is willing to take a chance a big senior season pushes him in to a first round pick as opposed to maybe 2nd, 3rd, or 4th. There’s a lot of production that’ll need to be replaced either way, but Mondon, Sherman, Dumas-Johnson, among others look ready to step up. Whether the unit is considered a strength or an unknown depends on if veterans like Smith and Beal decide to give it one more go. Without either, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Kirby look at the transfer portal same as with the DL.

DB- Ameer Speed (Sr), Christopher Smith (Sr), William Poole (Sr), Latavious Brini (Sr), Tykee Smith (Sr), Dan Jackson (Jr), Kelee Ringo (So), Jalen Kimber (So), Kamari Lassiter (So), Lovasea Carroll (So), Nyland Green (So), David Daniel (So), Javon Bullard (So), Daylan Everette (Fr), Julian Humphrey (Fr), Slim Singletary (Fr), Malaki Starks (Fr), JaCorey Thomas (Fr) - If Lewis Cine came back, that’d be a huge boost, but I don’t expect it. Ameer Speed or Latavious Brini taking advantage of one more possible year of eligibility seems more likely, although both could also chase down an NFL dream (or use that 6th season to transfer somewhere they know they’ll see a ton of snaps). Chris Smith and William Poole also have that option of one more year. Who knows if they take it. With the amount of freshman just added, I can’t imagine they all do but maybe one or two? At least Tykee Smith likely comes back to have a good (normal) senior season after this year was mared by injury, and Dan Jackson adds a veteran voice at S. Then all those talented freshman and sophomores will be competing to backfill for Cine and Kendrick and the excellent DBs that have come out of Athens recently. We lose plenty of production, but the cupboard will not be bare next year.

K/P- Jake Camarda (Sr), Jack Podleszny (Sr), Brett Thorson (Fr) - I include Camarda cause in theory, he can return. Now, I can’t imagine Thorson joining if he does (grey shirt?), or Kirby bringing Thorson in unless he was sure Camarda is going to the NFL. But as said above about others, does he want to be a 6th/7th round pick/undrafted FA, or move on to a not football career, or come back for one more run at college glory before being the same 6th/7th/udfa possibility for the NFL in 2023? Either way, between them and other hard working walk ons backing them up, we should be solid in the kicking specialists.

Overview- As said, I’m way over on the number (mid 90s total), and including a couple handful of players that will either not come back for a super senior season of eligibility, go pro, or just transfer to another opportunity. The team looks plenty talented, although some more depth on the defensive front seven would be nice, as well as perhaps a playmaker or two depending on who stays/goes at WR and RB. And regardless of who stays or goes, there will be a lot of talk about QB. But as we close this season, and things turn to transfer portals and the last handful of highly rated high school prospects, that’s how the roster looks at present. And as for a 2023 signing class, expect Kirby and staff to prioritize a RB or two to join Arch Manning (maybe?), plus continued stockpiling on the offensive and defensive fronts.