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Post Georgia’s 88(?!) for 2022

Friday August 26, 2022

Everyone loves those videos you see this time of year of a deserving walk-on learning that he has earned a scholarship. For many it’s a life-changing moment which is why family members are often involved in the reveal. The player is mobbed by his teammates who see the work put in by walk-ons with no promise of playing time or glory. It’s a reality though that most walk-ons won’t have this experience. Scholarship limits are what they are, and coaches must balance the current roster with future recruiting plans.

You’re probably not going to see any of these videos coming from Georgia this year. Based on returning players, offseason attrition, and the incoming signing class Georgia currently has 88 scholarship players. Yes, 88 is more than the NCAA limit of 85 total scholarship players. The 85 limit has held fast even as the NCAA allowed waivers and exceptions for annual signing limits due to the Covid disruptions. With Georgia at 88 the staff will have to be creative with the numbers. No, Georgia isn’t going to cut three players in the next week. It’s a common enough problem in college football that terms like “greyshirt” and “blueshirt” have crept into the college football lexicon as descriptions for postponing enrollment or a scholarship until a future date. It’s reasonable to expect that Kirby Smart and the staff have long since put this problem behind them, and it’s also likely that we’re not going to hear about the details.

The bigger point is that Georgia’s roster is bursting at the seams entering the 2022 season. It helps to explain why Georgia wasn’t as active in the transfer portal as we might have expected. Perhaps some anticipated attrition didn’t occur (recall that Amarius Mims entered and then withdrew from the portal.) It’s doubtful that Smart would have passed on a can’t-miss transfer at a position of need, but the tight numbers also meant that Georgia wasn’t desperate to fill the roster with transfers. The numbers also mean that some very high-profile walk-ons like Dan Jackson and Jack Podlesny will remain off scholarship. This is a great case for NIL and other permissible benefits, and hopefully they’ll be taken care of.

Below is our annual look at the 85 – or 88 – scholarship players for 2022. The first thing that stands out is that Georgia has only nine seniors, and that includes a couple taking advantage of an additional year of eligibility. That’s the reality both of the transfer portal and the talent drain that led to last April’s historic NFL Draft results. The flip side should be no surprise – Georgia has 60 players who are redshirt sophomores or younger. That’s up from 54 in 2021. That increase occurred because Kirby Smart took advantage of Covid-related NCAA adjustments to the annual signing limits. Georgia’s 38 freshmen (true freshmen plus redshirts) are up from 33 a year ago and include 30 true freshmen.

The positions are allocated almost exactly as they were a year ago. There’s one additional tight end, offensive lineman, and linebacker to get us from 85 to 88. We can see positions like offensive line and defensive back with only three upperclassmen and a next wave of freshmen and sophomores developing. (Keep in mind that redshirt sophomores like Broderick Jones, Kelee Ringo, and Arik Gilbert will be draft-eligible.) We might as well count Jalen Carter among the seniors, and there are a handful of redshirt juniors on the defensive line who may choose to graduate. There aren’t any sophomore defensive linemen, so this year’s strong freshman class will need to be followed by another. A strong junior season might lead Kendall Milton to consider the draft and raise the priority of the tailback position in recruiting or the portal.

There are only eight redshirt freshmen, most of them on the offensive or defensive line. Georgia played a lot of true freshmen in 2021, and a fair number of them could end up as starters or significant contributors this year. True freshmen could challenge for playing time again at nearly every position but offensive line; 18 of Georgia’s 30 true freshmen were early enrollees and went through the offseason program. The Bulldogs do have a bit more experience at the offensive skill positions than they had a year ago, and that experience has fueled optimism for an even more productive offense in 2022.

(Players are listed by class. Possible Day-One starters in a base formation are in bold – just a best guess. [R] indicates a player who has redshirted. A star(*) indicates an early enrollee.)

QB (4) Brock Vandagriff [R]
Gunner Stockton *
Carson Beck [R]   Stetson Bennett
RB (5) Andrew Paul
Branson Robinson
  Daijun Edwards
Kendall Milton
Kenny McIntosh
TE (6) Oscar Delp * Brock Bowers
Arik Gilbert [R]
Darnell Washington
Ryland Goede [R]
Brett Seither [R]
WR (11) Chandler Smith *
De’Nylon Morrissette *
Dillon Bell
Cole Speer
Ladd McConkey [R]
Arian Smith [R]
Jackson Meeks
Adonai (AD) Mitchell
Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint
Dominick Blaylock [R]
Kearis Jackson
OL (18) Dylan Fairchild [R]
Micah Morris [R]
Jared Wilson [R]
Earnest Greene *
Griffin Scroggs *
Aliou Bah *
Jacob Hood *
Drew Bobo
Amarius Mims
Austin Blaske [R]
Broderick Jones [R]
Chad Lindberg [R]
Tate Ratledge [R]
Sedrick Van Pran [R]
Devin Willock [R]
Warren McClendon [R]
Xavier Truss [R]
Warren Ericson
DL (14) Tyrion Ingram-Dawkins [R]
Jonathan Jefferson [R]
Mykel Williams *
Bear Alexander *
Christen Miller
Shone Washington *
C.J. Madden *
  Warren Brinson
Jalen Carter
Nazir Stackhouse
Zion Logue [R]
Tymon Mitchell [R]
Bill Norton [R]
Tramel Walthour
LB (14) Xavian Sorey [R]
Marvin Jones, Jr.
Darris Smith
Jalon Walker *
C.J. Washington *
EJ Lightsey
Chaz Chambliss
Jamon Dumas-Johnson
Smael Mondon
MJ Sherman
Rian Davis [R]
Trezman Marshall [R]
Nolan Smith
Robert Beal
DB (14) Nyland Green [R]
Malaki Starks *
Jaheim Singletary
Daylen Everette *
Julian Humphrey
Marcus Washington
JaCorey Thomas *
Javon Bullard
David Daniel-Sisavanh
Kamari Lassiter
Kelee Ringo [R]
Tykee Smith William Poole
Christopher Smith
SPEC (2) Brett Thorson * Jared Zirkel [R]    
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