Practice is finally underway in Athens, which means it’s almost time for another exciting season of Georgia football. We’ve seen quite a few changes during the offseason, and hopefully those changes will lead to better results on the field for the Bulldogs this season.
I’ve learned that consistent success isn’t something to be taken for granted, but I think everyone wants to see UGA improve upon last season’s 8-5 record.
With so many coaching changes and a third place finish in the SEC East, the entire roster should have something to prove.
Georgia has established itself as one of the best programs in the country at producing NFL-caliber tight ends, and now it’s Rome’s turn to take on the role of being Mike Bobo’s primary option at the position. He’s a matchup nightmare with his speed and athleticism on his 6’6”, 250-pound frame, but he’s struggled with lingering foot injuries throughout his career and has yet to consistently play up to his potential. Production from Rome will be critical in taking pressure of Hutson Mason and help with the transition as a few of UGA’s receivers still aren’t 100-percent healthy.
Many people thought Damian Swann would emerge as the leader of the Georgia secondary last season, but he struggled along with the rest of the UGA defensive backs. Now that he has the opportunity to play under new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, we’ll see if he can return to the form he had in his sophomore season that made him look like one of the most promising young cornerbacks in the country. Swann needs to put last season behind him and set the standard with his play in the secondary.
John Theus was a freshman All-American after his first season in Athens, and it seemed like he’d continue to progress as a sophomore. Instead, he struggled with inconsistency and found himself battling to keep his starting spot at one of the tackle positions. As a junior, he’s entering practice with much more confidence and a better understanding of Georgia’s system, which will hopefully lead to him being an anchor on the offensive line. Theus establishing himself as a rock at one of the tackle positions is essential in a league where consistent line play typically leads to success.
He’s spent the past four years learning the system and sitting behind the most decorated quarterback in the history of the program, but now it’s Hutson Mason’s time to shine. He showed flashes of what he can do last season in the final regular season game against Georgia Tech and in the bowl game against Nebraska, which hopefully provided confidence and momentum to carry into the offseason. Mason is surrounded by outstanding talent at the skill positions and he’s received great tutelage from Mike Bobo and Mark Richt. Let’s hope the next step is that he takes on a Tee Martin-type role and leads the Dawgs to a championship.
Ray Drew is one of the few remaining members of Georgia’s “Dream Team” recruiting class that still has an opportunity to live up to the hype. He was regarded as one of the top defensive prospects in the country coming out of high school, but it took him a couple years to grow into his role in Todd Grantham’s defense. He began to emerge as a force on the defensive line for UGA last year, and people around the program have been raving about how he’s looked in offseason workouts. If Drew can elevate his game to another level, he could be a terror in the SEC this season.
Which Georgia player do you think has the most to prove this season? Let me know by leaving a comment!