Kirby Smart expected, understands heavy Georgia football attrition, no panic


ATHENS — There’s no panic in the Georgia football building, and certainly, no surprises.

Coach Kirby Smart has said many times that part of acquiring elite talent is the inevitably that many players will declare themselves eligible for the NFL draft as underclassmen, particularly with many starting their careers as early enrollees.

Thus, it was an expected reality that projected 2022 NFL Draft first-round picks Travon Walker and Nakobe Dean would forego their senior years, and likely second-day pick Lewis Cine (second or third round) would also leave early.

Those announcements all came on Friday, along with news that potential first-round NFL pick George Pickens had indeed declared himself eligible for the 2022 draft, as DawgNation first reported on Thursday night.

The four talented underclassmen join a group of nine departing seniors, eight of whom have already accepted Senior Bowl invites.

Zamir White made his decision to leave on Friday and will likely get an invitation to an all-star game, if not the Senior Bowl, possibly the East-West Shrine Game.

Smart also said last Tuesday, the morning after the Bulldogs beat Alabama 33-18 in the CFP Championship Game, that players would leave and some would go in the transfer portal.

“We’ll have multiple kids … go into the portal that we’ve had discussions with that held that off, out of respect for the team,” Smart said.

“I thought that was tremendous. We’ll have that. Everybody will think that’s a terrible thing. But in some cases it’s actually a good opportunity for kids.”

Indeed, and with the COVID-19 allowances no longer in place, teams are expected to have to get back down to 85 scholarship players.

That’s a balancing act for Georgia, which Smart said has “16 or 17″ early enrollees on scholarship and on campus.

The Bulldogs are expected to have more attrition this weekend.

That list in the portal, at the moment, includes:

• CB Jalen Kimber

• CB Ameer Speed

• CB Lovasea Carroll

• DB Latavious Brini

• WR Justin Robinson

• WR Jaylen Johnson

Smart and Georgia have been active, though very selective, talking with players in the portal as well.

“I know people don’t understand it, but other teams are 10 days up on you because they finished January 1st, your competitors,” Smart said. “And you’re going, wait, they’re doing what? We’re trying to win a national championship.”

Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett is among those who may or not be back with the Bulldogs. Bennett said he will come back only if he can “trust the decisions made” by Smart and the UGA coaching staff.

Here’s a look at players’ status

DEFENSE

Key returning players

DT Jalen Carter

DL Zion Logue

DL Warren Brinson

CB Kelee Ringo

LB Jamon Dumas-Johnson

FS Christopher Smith

RELATED: Christopher Smith boosts Bulldogs with news of return

SS Dan Jackson

Star Tykee Smith

Unknown/not announced

OLB Nolan Smith

CB Nyland Green

OLB Adam Anderson (suspended indefinitely)

OLB Robert Beal, Jr.

Departing players

NT Jordan Davis

DT Devonte Wyatt

LB Quay Walker

LB Channing Tindall

SS Lewis Cine (underclassman draft)

CB Derion Kendrick

LB Nakobe Dean (underclassman draft)

DE Travon Walker (underclassman draft)

DB Lovasea Carroll…



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