Freshmen Must Step Up for Georgia Football
Han Vance on Georgia football: The key classes at any college used to be the seniors, who were back for another go of it, and actually the sophomores, who were finally ready to go and be the infusion of tip-top talent a program needed to defy expectations and soar to the top of the heap. And, when you talk about the heap in the SEC, you are clearly talking about the best coaches and best programs in the whole country.
The junior class I saw as often less important because they were not the declared, designated vocal leaders of the football team, and everybody knew what they were getting in a guy, for the most part, by the time of his junior campaign. He wasn’t so much of a revelation, after his sophomore season. His coaches knew what he would give and the opposition had a baseline expectation of what he was going to do to hurt them and how to prepare for the team, around his stats.
I’m not speaking about pure production numbers, here, I’m talking about making the most personal impact in taking a bad team and putting them in a bowl, in taking a middling bowl program, and boosting them to a now-called New Year’s 6, in taking a solid big-bowl program and winning at the highest levels in the single sport with the least clear crowning system of any sport in the world.
Now, though, with so many kids going pro early, opting out of New Year’s 6 bowl games and whole seasons to prepare for the draft, the senior class is quite diminished in importance. There are less of them, with the sheer athletic talent than ever before. Juniors are the key. Now junior year is the last season for the best talent.
And a true freshman or five, when you are recruiting at the highest level, can and will infill with talent at positions of need immediately.
Georgia got hurt less than the two SEC programs who have outperformed UGA over the last three seasons – each of which Georgia had an 11-1 regular season campaign. Alabama had a record mass exodus in the first round which I have documented previously and don’t need to dig into deeply now, since they still have the returning proven weapons in place on offense at two WRs, RB, QB and get stud Dylan Moses back after an injury year, to a defense that a-typically underperformed last season. They do clearly miss the defensive coordinating of either Kirby or Pruitt and have won zero modern national championships without the two one-time or another but never together here Georgia coaches. I thought LSU passing Georgia was the real travesty for our program, beating the Dawgs up on the bayou where our coaching was suspect and then last year in Atlanta when our offense was the most injury-depleted it has been since Ray Goff’s last run.
Bama is our white whale.
LSU lost 14 guys to the draft – fourteen! – and does not have the proven pieces in place outside of an excellent defensive secondary. They are destined to step back and are overrated at #6, as of this writing. They won’t be terrible but are unlikely to be great, with only five starters back and with the reality of you know who all and exactly what they lost, which I’ve documented.
Side note: Saban, already manipulating the gullible media in a campaign to get an at-large spot in the CFP (college football playoff) if he needs one, came on TV and said you “may need to be more subjective this year.” See, if he drops the SECCG in Atlanta, he can now say, subjectively, look at me, I played 10 SEC games, in the toughest division in college football, the (overvalued) SEC West, and I had to play Georgia twice, the second time in the state of Georgia. The Big Ten only plays eight times, leave them out; the Big 12 was embarrassed by the Sun Belt (3-0), leave them out. I was 50-50 against UGA and 5-1 in my last six against them; leave them out even though they won the SEC. The ACC is a Clemson (he honestly doesn’t ever want to see in the CFP again) and nobody league, leave them out. Vote for Pedro…I’m Bama.
But Georgia not Bama had the #1 recruiting class in the nation last go at it, and the no-name because they have yet to do it in college true freshmen at Georgia must emerge on offense, just as “Gurshall” (Gurley and Marshall) did when Aaron Murray was a junior and Georgia was a fingertip from winning it all.
The defense, dominated by juniors with a few vocal senior leaders, is in place to win the national championship. 8-of-11 starters and 12-of-15 top tacklers return to a defense which yielded (tops in USA) 12.6 points a game and had one team get 18+ over 14 games – that is dominance. One Georgia defender got drafted, and he was Mr. Irrelevant – the last guy taken in the draft.
The horses are in place in the Classic City.
Three classes ago, Georgia not Bama – and it is never Clemson or Ohio State or Oklahoma, by the way – likewise had the number one recruiting class. Those guys are our juniors, now. If you have the best athletes overall across a whole team as juniors and freshmen, with a true sophomore class which was #3, the talent is there, obviously.
Georgia looking at the recruiting metric alone has the most talent and depth in America, with Saban and Bama only nipping at our heels. Sure, they have three of the top five projected NFL draft picks, but recruiting classes are more about whole team talent, not a few guys.
The best players on Georgia 2020 are not yet on the tip of your tongues, America. And yet, they were part of a number one recruiting class.