With the UGA spring game on Saturday, I want to tell you the position groups I'll be keeping a close eye on.
First, let's start with the obvious, and that's what will happen in the QB room. Georgia has to replace two-year starter Stetson Bennett, and the three most prevalent options are Carson Beck, Brock Vandagriff, and Gunner Stockton. Stockton and Beck are former 4-star prospects, with Stockton in the 2022 cycle and Beck in the 2020 cycle. Brock Vandagriff was the #4 QB and a 5-star recruit in UGA's 2021 recruiting class. Stockton and Vandagriff have the ability to escape the pocket and take off for some yards on the run, while Beck is more of a pocket passer. Brock and Gunner's running ability keeps some of the designed runs that Stetson ran in the playbook, but if Carson wins the job, he will try to beat you with his arm instead of his legs. It does seem as if Beck had the upper hand coming into the spring, as he had been in the system the longest and played the backup role to Stetson all of last year. @Graham Coffey and @Jason Brassell have stated that Brock and Beck have looked shakey in previous scrimmages leading up to GDay, so it'll be interesting to see if they've turned it around come game time. It is good to remember that these guys are going against the best defense in the country, which most opposing quarterbacks struggle against.
The second position I'm watching closely is who will step in and play on the other side of Kamari Lassiter at CB 2. With Kelee Ringo headed to the draft, the Georgia secondary is looking for their guy to hold down that spot, and the three guys getting the most buzz right now are Daylen Everette, Julian Humphrey, and Nyland Green. Everette and Humphrey were both signed in the 2022 class, with Everette ranked as a 5-star and Humphrey as a top 100 4-star. Nyland Green was the #4 overall ranked cornerback in the 2021 class and has been in the DB room the longest out of all the remaining corners on the team. Humphrey has all the tools that are needed to become a great corner at the SEC level, as he is 6'0" and 190 pounds and has elite speed. Kelee Ringo possessed the speed to run alongside any receiver in the country, and Julian Humphrey is right up there with him. One note to add when it comes to this battle is that last season, Daylen Everette would always be the first corner off the bench to go in and play if a situation arose.
The third position group I'm keeping an eye on is the EDGE players. Everyone knows that Mykel Williams will be a force for however long he stays at Georgia, but who will be the other guys that come in and are a dominant force off the edge? Kirby and his staff have recruited this position extremely well over the past few years, so it's tough for me only to pick a few guys, but Darris Smith, Samuel M'Pempa, and Damon Wilson are the ones I have my eyes on. Wilson and M'Pempa are the newest in the room as they were brought in after the 2023 recruiting cycle, with M'Pempa being a top-50 4-star and Wilson being the #20 player in the country. UGA needs some guys to step up in this room and if these guys are ready, I fully expect them to be playing really early in their careers in Athens. Darris Smith is one of the most exciting players on the UGA roster, in my opinion, as his physical attributes are off the charts. Darris Smith reminds me a lot of former UGA star Leonard Floyd. Smith stands 6'6", weighs 225 and could be a force off the edge if his technique is down. This is his second year in the program as he was a 4-star recruit in the 2022 class, and now with Nolan Smith off to the NFL, Smith could play a significant role for the Georgia defense in the upcoming year. Marvin Jones Jr. would've been on this list as well, but he's still recovering from a shoulder injury and won't play in Saturday's game.
One last little extra note is that with Jack Podlesney now gone, it'll be interesting to see who slides in as the placekicker for the Dawgs come September 2nd. In the spring game, we will see some of Jared Zirkel, but Georgia signed the #1 overall kicker in the 2023 recruiting cycle in Peyton Woodring. Woodring will arrive on campus in the summer, and that's when the real competition for UGA's kicker will begin.
Edited by Will Morrison