Bulldogs 3-Peat: Bark or Bite?

By Rockin’ Reese


Georgia Bulldogs

As we approach the 2023-24 NCAA football season, all eyes are on the University of Georgia. The Bulldogs are the 2-time defending National Champions. Last season, they were undefeated. The season before that, their only loss was in the 2021 SEC Championship Game, against the Alabama Crimson Tide. However, there are a lot of questions surrounding the boys from Athens, as they try to be the first team in NCAA history to have undisputed claim to 3 national championships in a row.

Let’s start with the quarterback position. After being the offensive MVP in the last 2 National Championship games, Stetson Bennett IV graduated from Georgia & was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams. Now, the Bulldogs will have to see if either Brock Vandagriff, Carson Beck, or Gunner Stockton can emerge as the new leader. A good portion of the Bulldog offense is also gone.

(Running back) Kenny McIntosh was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks. From their wide receiver unit, Adonai Mitchell & Dominick Blaylock transferred (Mitchell to the Texas Longhorns & Blaylock to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets) and Kearis Jackson, Randon Jernigan, & George Vining graduated. From their tight ends, Arik Gilbert, Brett Seither, & Ryland Goede transferred (Gilbert to the Nebraska Cornhuskers, Seither to the Yellow Jackets, & Goede to the Mississippi State Bulldogs), Davis Day graduated, and Darnell Washington was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

From the offensive line, Jacob Hood & Griffin Scroogs transferred (Hood to the Cornhuskers & Scroogs is undecided), Broderick Jones & Warren McClendon were drafted (Jones to the Steelers & McClendon to the Rams), Warren Ericson graduated, and Devin Willock was sadly involved in the fatal car accident that took place less than a week after Georgia defeated the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs in January’s National Championship Game.

Let’s focus on which players from the defense won’t be returning, too. Jalen Carter, Nolan Smith, Kelee Ringo, Christopher Smith II, & Robert Beal Jr. were all drafted into the NFL. (Carter, Smith, & Ringo went to the Philadelphia Eagles, Smith went to the Las Vegas Raiders, and Beal went to the San Francisco 49ers.) Transfers include Rian Davis (to the University of Central Florida Knights), MJ Sherman (to the Cornhuskers), Jaheim Singletary (to the Arkansas Razorbacks), Trezmen Marshall (to the Tide), Bill Norton (to the Arizona Wildcats), Shone Washington (who is undecided), & Bear Alexander (to the University of Southern California Trojans). Joseph Daniels & Tramel Walthour graduated.

While those are some big losses, there are some opportunties for some current & new Bulldogs to step up. On the offensive side of the ball, Len’Neth Whitehead (an Athens native who transferred from the Tennessee Volunteers), Roderick Robinson II, and seniors Kendall Milton, Sevaughn Clark, & Daijun Edwards could be some components of a strong running back core.

Transfers Dominic Lovett (from the Missouri Tigers) & Rodarius “RaRa” Thomas (from Mississippi State) look to add to a reciving core that includes Tyler Williams, Anthony Evans III, & Yazeed Haynes. On the defensive side of the ball, Deyon Bouie (transferring from the Texas A&M Aggies) looks to bring some depth to the secondary, which includes Joenel Aguero, AJ Harris, Justyn Rhett, Chris Peal, Kamari Lassiter, & (last season’s defensive MVP in the National Championship Game) Javon Bullard. In the “front 7”, players like Samuel M’Pemba, Damon Wilson, Mykel Williams, & Jamon Dumas-Johnson will be called upon to limit the opposition’s offense.

No matter what the team looks like by the time the regular season begins, (head coach) Kirby Smith will do his best to prepare his Bulldogs to try & successfully defend their championship. They’ll have plenty of bark coming into the season. However, will they have the bite to accomplish the 3-peat? We’ll find out, starting September 2nd, when they host the Uniersity of Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks.

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