Photo Credit: Chamberlain Smith
Get used to Kirby Smart and George Pickens hoisting trophies.
The new year is a time for renewal and resolution. It's a fresh start for everyone, a turning point, an opportunity to be better than we were the year before. That includes Georgia football.
The Dawgs began 2020 on the right foot, defeating Baylor 26-14 in the Sugar Bowl. It's the first time since the 2016 season—Kirby Smart's first at the helm of the program—that Georgia has ended the season with a win, and I had forgotten what a mental boost a season-ending win could provide.
Despite all the problems with the team this season—many of which were still present in the Sugar Bowl—I'm feeling pretty positive about the team heading into the offseason. Had you told me I'd feel this way in the aftermath of that bloodbath against LSU in the SEC Championship Game, I wouldn't have believed you. But, I have to say, seeing Kirby's goofy ass smiling during the trophy ceremony and the players celebrating their accomplishments postgame has refreshed my spirit and given me hope.
So I'm resolving to stay positive about Georgia football this year. Anyone who reads this column regularly knows that I wasn't very positive throughout the last season, and, I must say, it wasn't great! If I'm being negative about a 12-2 season, it probably means I'm an asshole, and I don't wanna be an asshole. I wanna be excited about Georgia football! Here are some reasons to be excited:
George Pickens is a stud. My god, a freshman. Pickens was your Sugar Bowl MVP after hauling in 12 catches, tying Georgia's bowl receptions record held by Hines Ward. Pickens had shown flashes of brilliance all season, and we've all seen his lofty potential. But this was his coming out party on the national stage. The man might be the best receiver to step foot on campus since A.J. Yeah, he's that good.
This defense ain't going nowhere. Without exaggeration, the 2019 Georgia defense may be the best in school history—and without the star power of someone like Roquan Smith or Deandre Baker. This was a team defense. And considering some of the best players, such as J.R. Reed and Tyler Clark, sat out the Sugar Bowl to nurse injuries and prepare for their NFL careers, the defense that beat Baylor was essentially the defense that we'll have next year, plus some uber-talented freshmen. Say what you will about Kirby's ability to run an offense, but the man can build one helluva defense.
Another crazy good recruiting class is on the way. As has become tradition, Georgia is once again on the way to signing a top three recruiting class. And it's only gotten better in the new year. Just since 2020 began, Georgia landed TE Darnell Washington and CB Kelee Ringo, both top-10 players nationally. With 5-star RB Zach Evans a likely Georgia signee, the No. 1 class is still on the table. Point being, as long as Kirby is in charge, talent won't be a problem.
A bunch of DGDs are heading to the NFL. It sucks to lose so many talented players, but it's great to see Georgia boys make good. The juniors and seniors who left have been part of one of the most successful and exciting spells in school history and revitalized the program. Shout out to Rodrigo Blankenship, Andrew Thomas, D'Andre Swift, Isaiah Wilson, Brian Herrien and every other junior and senior leaving the program. DGDs.
Jake Fromm will do... something. I'm writing this on Jan. 5 and still don't know whether he's staying or jumping to the NFL. Since y'all are in the future, you may well know. If he's back, he'll have the opportunity to become one of the GOAT Georgia players and redeem what was objectively an awful second half of the season. And he'll get to keep throwing to Pickens. [Update: Fromm announced Jan. 8 that he's entering the NFL draft.]
If he goes, we'll likely replace him with a transfer, be that Houston's D'Eriq King or Stanford's K.J. Costello. As for Fromm's legacy, he's perhaps the most successful QB in school history outside of Buck Belue. Fromm's list of accomplishments includes three consecutive SEC East titles, an SEC Championship, a Rose Bowl and a Sugar Bowl. That's a DGD if I've ever seen one.