We just did this. As in like two weeks ago, yet here we are again with an updated roster rundown. Why? Because it’s college football and things can change quickly.
Hopefully, the bulk of the changes have already been announced. Spring semester has begun both in Athens and elsewhere around the country, so players looking to transfer to new schools have mostly done so to get to work in their school of choice. Now, there’s a few who haven’t yet (like say JT Daniels who is gonna need to graduate first so he can play immediately wherever he opts to go), so this is by no means a final list. Plus, Kirby is gonna still target a few transfers of his own, along with a player here or there deciding for one reason or another that it’s their time.
But here we go again looking at each position group individually, with the changes noted.
QB- Stetson Bennett (Sr), JT Daniels (Sr), Carson Beck (So), Brock Vandagriff (rsFR), Gunner Stockton (Fr) - There has actually been no announcements yet. Daniels is expected to enter the transfer portal, but as said above, there’s a timing issue with him. He transferred already to Athens from Southern Cal, so for him to transfer again and be immediately eligible, it’d need to be a “graduate transfer”. That means he needs to finish the semester with his degree (which he’s on track to do), before officially moving on. It’s expected, but not announced. Beck may or may not be joining him, as that hasn’t been announced. So this area, with Caleb Williams questions and all the rest, is still a subject of confusion as seems to always be the case under Kirby.
Zamir White (Sr), Kenny McIntosh (Sr), Kendall Milton (Jr), Daijun Edwards (Jr), Branson Robinson (Fr) - So both White and Cook will take their talents to the NFL next year. Cook, as a senior this past year, was expected. White was a redshirt junior, so he was less of a lock. But after getting healthy again on a long road back from multiple knee injuries, you can’t blame the kid for wanting to get his shot at the NFL now. There’s only so many carries in those legs, and his may be a smaller number than most thanks to the wear and tear he’s already had. McIntosh, Milton, and Edwards have all looked capable of carrying a big load, so it’s a solid crew, and has an impressive prospect in Robinson to join them come fall. Now, it does lack a sort of scat back playmaker ala Cook, so we may or may not look to add one more between now and fall.
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), Jackson Meeks (So), Arik Gilbert (So), CJ Smith (Fr), Cole Speer (Fr), De’Nylon Morrissette (Fr) - Pickens has gone pro, and Justin Robinson is joining the other Bulldogs of the SEC. A WR for Mike Leach can catch a lot of balls, so hard to fault him for that move. I failed to include Jackson Meeks last time, so we added one back too. But it’s still a strong group even without the elite Pickens and promising Robinson. That is, assuming the rest are sticking around as rumors will circulate. But Jackson, Burton, and McConkey give great slot/speed weapons, Blaylock if healthy again, along with Mitchell and others can provide excellent all around ability out wide, and the TEs bring an extra dynamic. Arik Gilbert is still around the program, so he may well be the one to try and replace Pickens as a big play man out wide.
John Fitzpatrick (Sr), Darnell Washington (Jr), Brett Seither (Jr), Ryland Goede (Jr), Brock Bowers (So), Oscar Delp (Fr) - Fitzpatrick has great size, good speed, soft hands, and a capable blocker. While I’m not gonna be shocked if he has a solid NFL career, and more production than in Athens, but it was a surprise to see him declare early. Bowers is clearly the bell cow of the group. Delp a promising young prospect too. The question now turns to Washington (who as said above, rumors circulate although nothing concrete), along with Seither and Goede. Will Washington stick around for the mismatch pairing of a coach’s dreams (or nightmare depending on which side you’re on)? And will Seither or Goede opt to go elsewhere in hopes of more playing time?
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), Austin Blaske (So), Dylan Fairchild (rsFR), Micah Morris (rsFR), Jared Wilson (rsFR), Aliou Bah (Fr), Drew Bobo (Fr), Jacob Hood (Fr), Griffin Scroggs (Fr), Earnest Greene (Fr) - Shaffer joins his left side partner Sayler in heading to the NFL. But the right side returns with Erison and McClendon, as well as Van Pran-Granger coming back at C. Truss and Jones got a good bit of playing time over the year at LT and LG, including a handful of starts at LT for Jones when Sayler was out injured. Since we last did this, highly rated Earnest Greene, out of California, has joined the incoming freshman class. He’s got the frame and feet to play LT, but may be best suited for an interior spot (not unlike Jamaree Sayler in that regard). There will be competition for places, but there’s plenty of experience still in the room to help protect whoever is at QB and open holes for whichever RB gets the rock.
DL- Tramel Wathour (Sr), Robert Beal (Sr), Jalen Carter (Jr), Tymon Mitchell (Jr), Zion Logue (Jr), Warren Brinson (Jr), Nazir Stackhouse (Jr), Bill Norton (Jr), Marlin Dean (rsFR), Tyrion Ingram-Dawkins (rsFR), Jonathan Jefferson (rsFR), Bear Alexander (Fr), Shone Washington (Fr), Marvin Jones, Jr (Fr), Mykel Williams (Fr) - I assumed Jordan Davis, Travon Walker, and Devonte Wyatt were all NFL bound, and they are. I’ll shift Beal to the DL as opposed to LB, since he plays with his hand in the dirt more often than not. Jalen Carter becomes the star attraction here, with several quality players to join him. Now, whether they can produce at the level of Davis, Walker, and Wyatt remains to be seen. And it’s a pretty tough task to match what those players could bring to the table. But Kirby and DL coach Tray Scott in particular, has done a great job with this unit the last few years, so I’m not betting against them. The freshman Williams has been getting rave reviews from his all star game after playing the role of All-American Aidan Hutchinson in bowl practices prior to the Michigan game, so he may be a difference maker sooner rather than later. I wouldn’t rule out a transfer in here too to beef up the unit.
LB- Nolan Smith (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) - Smith’s return adds a playmaker off the edge. He can work on adding a little more size to his frame, improve his consistency, and maybe even his coverage skills too in hopes of becoming a complete LB instead of a pass rush specialist. This, like DL, is another area we may be looking at transfers to help keep the units as talented as we’ve grown accustomed under Kirby. It’s strong, but the names are unknown and who knows if the staff wants more. I’m not listing Adam Anderson above, although conceivably he could return for a second senior season if his legal concerns are cleared up. I’d highly doubt it though.
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) - So Speed and Brini are opting to get a second senior season somewhere else. It’d be nice to have the veterans back, but keeping Poole and both Smiths provides the experience and leadership we’d want. Cine and Kendrick joing the NFL, and in probably not too surprising, Lovasea Carroll transfers out. I’m curious if he’s opting for somewhere he can play RB, which is what he was originally recruited as here. Kimber was competing for a starting job going in to the year before a shoulder injury took him out, so his departure is a bit surprising. His decision to go to Florida is undesirable in the least. But there’s still a ton of talent in that defensive backfield, highlighted by Kelee Ringo. And considering this is the area where Kirby has almost always added someone (from Tykee Smith and Derion Kendrick last year all the way back to Mo Smith in year one), I wouldn’t be surprised if we add a transfer here.
Jake Camarda (Sr), Jack Podleszny (Sr), Jared Zirkel (So), Brett Thorson (Fr) - Camarda will try to make the pros, and I forgot to include Zirkel last time so Pod has competition, and one could also end up punting if Thorson isn’t as expected there. But we always have solid kickers, with a steady line going back decades at both K and P, so this isn’t an area of concern.
Overview - Overall I’m counting 90 above in terms of scholarship players. Now, some are just yet to announce their departure (see JT Daniels), so there will be more to come off the list. And assuming Kirby is going to bring a few players in, there may be quite a few more to come off this list (as stocked as the OL room appears, I wouldn’t be surprised if one or three in that group decide their chances of seeing the field are better somewhere else the next few years). But that’s where we stand as of now. Still a very talented and deep unit, but a couple areas where adding some help wouldn’t hurt. I doubt we start next season at the top of folks’ rankings, but we will still be top 5.