Georgia Newcomers Could Provide Some Punch

Georgia quarterback Justin Fields passes during the Georgia Spring Game at Sanford Stadium.Photo Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

ATHENS, Ga. First games are always exciting.

Not only is it the kickoff to the beginning of a new year, but its also an opportunity for fans to see the new players and hopefully get an idea who will contribute to the teams cause this fall.

Thats certainly true for the fourth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs.

Last years recruiting class was pegged No. 1 in the nation by Many of its names are expected to debut in Saturdays game against Austin Peay (3:30 p.m., ESPN).

Quarterback Justin Fields has obviously received a lot of attention. But offensively, there are other freshmen namely running back James Cook, who has been a popular subject of conversation after receiving significant praise from teammates so far.

Cal transfer Demetris Robertson is another.

Theyre fun, theyre exciting, quarterback Jake Fromm said of Cook and Robertson.

Theyre explosive football players, guys who, when they get the rock in their hands, can make it six points really quick. James and D-Rob will make a great contribution to the team. I saw a lot of highlights, the plays hes been making and his high school highlights as well. The guy can definitely make a lot of plays, and hell make a lot this fall, too.

Head coach Kirby Smart gave Notre Dame defensive line graduate transfer Jay Hayes a plug.

Hayes, who started all 13 games last year for the Fighting Irish, is not expected to start for the Bulldogs, but Smart assured the media Monday hes going to receive significant playing time.

Jay has provided us much-needed depth. I think Jay gives us a lot of quickness on the front. Hes a guy who does movements well, plays good at the point of attack, Smart said.

Hes been an asset from an energy and effort standpoint. I compare him to (Jonathan) Ledbetter, where he chases the ball, he runs after the ball. He plays really hard. Hes adjusted to our system very easily. I think having been an older player, he just learns easier. Hes going to provide us a lot of depth. Hes going to be able to play a lot of snaps.

Other freshmen to watch include outside linebacker Brenton Cox, middle linebackers Quay Walker and Channing Tindall, and cornerback Tyson Campbell, who continues to compete for the starting job at right cornerback opposite Deandre Baker.

Tyson has come in and picked things up probably more naturally for a defensive back than what Ive been used to, Smart said.

The corner position is probably the easiest to play when you look at our defense. A lot of times theyre man-to-man outside, but there are some checks involved, and hes handled that well. Hes a very mature kid. Hes practiced hard. If he can stay away from the injury bug, hes certainly going to play a lot for us.


QB Jake Fromm hasnt officially named his starting quarterback. Nevertheless, it would qualify as quite the stunner if Fromm didnt step on the field first against Austin Peay after leading the Bulldogs to the national championship against Alabama. As a freshman, Fromm completed 181 of 291 passes for 2,615 yards and 24 touchdowns. With a deeper corps of wide receivers, those numbers certainly stand a great chance of improving this fall.

RB DAndre Swift takes over as the main man in the backfield following the graduation of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. The sophomore wont have to go it alone as junior Elijah Holyfield Evanders son will help to shoulder the load but Swift, who averaged almost eight yards per carry as a freshman, figures to be the best big-play threat for the Bulldogs at the position this fall.

CB Tyrique McGhee will not play in Saturdays game after breaking a bone in his foot during Georgias first scrimmage two weeks ago.