For the third consecutive season, the Georgia Bulldogs took the field in the SEC Championship Game with an opportunity to play their way into the College Football Playoff. For the second straight year, the Dawgs came up short. And for the first time, Georgia was blown out in the process, losing to eventual national champion LSU, 37-10.
There is no shame in losing to a historically great team like the 2019 Tigers, and Georgia rebounded nicely by beating a solid Baylor squad in the Sugar Bowl. However, the loss to LSU offered fans a glimpse of a possible future for the Bulldogs. After all, like Georgia, LSU was often very good but rarely great — and vastly underachieved for years on offense. Things changed when the Tigers evolved, thanks to some important input from a new assistant coach plucked from the NFL, and LSU finally unleashed its roster full of blue-chip recruits to reach its full, glorious potential.
The Bulldogs are capable of a similar outburst, and with Georgia expected to field one of the best defenses in the country in 2020, it should come as no surprise that most of the team’s top newcomers play offense.
Jamie Newman, QB
Head coach Kirby Smart has turned to Todd Monken as his new offensive coordinator following a stint in the NFL and signed Newman, a Wake Forest graduate transfer, to succeed Jake Fromm at quarterback. Will Monken and Newman be 2020’s answer to Joe Brady and Joe Burrow? That’s the hope in Athens.
Burrow, who transferred from Ohio State to LSU in 2018, benefitted from a full season with the Tigers before his breakout Heisman Trophy-winning campaign last year. Newman has only one shot with his new teammates, but he also comes in with experience as a college starter, which Burrow didn’t.
Newman played in 26 games with the Demon Deacons and started 15 times. Last year, Newman completed 60.9 percent of his passes for 2,868 yards and 26 touchdowns with 11 interceptions, while averaging 7.9 yards per pass attempt. He also ran for 574 yards and a team-high six touchdowns.
Kelee Ringo, CB
The only defensive player on our list, Ringo is nevertheless a player to watch for the Bulldogs in 2020. Ringo signed with Georgia out of Saguaro, Ariz., and earned five-star status according to the 247Sports Composite, in which he ranked as the No. 1 cornerback prospect in the country and No. 4 player overall.
Listed at 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, Ringo has prototypical size for a corner and also possesses electric speed that will be an asset in man coverage. He’s also slightly bigger and just as athletic as LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr., who emerged as an All-American as a true freshman for the national champs. And though Georgia welcomes back starting corners Eric Stokes and DJ Daniel, as well as former five-star recruits Tyrique Stevenson and Tyson Campbell, Ringo is too good to stay on the sideline in 2020.
Broderick Jones, OL
The biggest question mark for Georgia next season is its offensive line. The Bulldogs lost three starters — including tackles Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson — early to the NFL draft, in addition to Cade Mays, who transferred to Tennessee. Ben Cleveland, the projected right guard, missed the bowl game after he was ruled academically ineligible, putting his status in doubt for 2020.
As a result, a true freshman like Jones has a clear path to early playing time. He is a five-star recruit ranked No. 11 overall in the 247Sports Composite, second among offensive tackle prospects nationally. Listed at 6-foot-5 and 298 pounds, Jones is one of the most athletic offensive linemen in the 2020 class. His lack of experience and unpolished technique, as well as the fact he will enroll this summer, make it unlike Jones earns a starting spot in fall camp. But he could move into the role by the end of the season.
Arian Smith, WR
This time last year, receiver was the biggest position of need for Georgia, and the Bulldogs responded by signing George Pickens and Dominick Blaylock as well as added grad transfer Lawrence Cager. Pickens battled immaturity for most of the season, but he exploded in the Sugar Bowl and finished as the team's leading receiver. Cager is gone, and Blaylock suffered a torn ACL against LSU and will likely be limited until fall. So, while the Bulldogs aren’t as desperate, incoming receivers could still play a vital role in 2020.
Smith and Marcus Rosemy both signed with Georgia as top-60 recruits ranked No. 8 and No. 9 at the position, respectively, in the 247Sports Composite. Along with fellow four-star Jermaine Burton and three-star prospect Ladd McConkey, Rosemy and Smith are expected to enroll this summer. Justin Robinson, a 6-foot-4 four-star ranked 49th among receivers, is already on campus and could make an early impression, but Smith seems most likely to play right away.
Listed at 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds, Smith is considered one of the fastest players in the nation in the 2020 class. He was clocked at 10.39 seconds in the 100 meters and 21.14 seconds in the 200 meters as a high school sprinter, the latter of which earned him a state championship medal. Smith’s best chance to make an immediate impact would likely come as a returner or as a weapon in the running game on reverses, end-arounds, or jet sweeps. But he’s also capable of developing into a dynamic slot receiver and deep threat.
Darnell Washington, TE
Athletic tight ends are valuable offensive weapons, and with the departure of Eli Wolf and Charlie Woerner, Georgia has plenty of playing time to offer Washington. Listed as an athlete by 247Sports, there is a chance Washington eventually moves to defensive end, where the 6-foot-7, 261-pound prospect projects favorably. But the true freshman's athleticism is off the charts, and with a need at the position, there’s a great chance he gets an opportunity to play early and often on offense.
Tre’ McKitty, a tight end who transferred after appearing in 35 games (including 22 starts) at Florida State, is in line to compete for a starting role with John FitzPatrick. But Washington — who signed out of Las Vegas as the No. 23 overall player in the 247Sports Composite — has the size, strength, and speed to become a matchup nightmare for the Bulldogs.