The Georgia Bulldogs offense will have a much different look in 2019. The Bulldogs lose quarterback Justin Fields and tight end Luke Ford to transfer, receiver Terry Godwin and center Lamont Gaillard to graduation and four juniors to early entry into the NFL Draft. With that, here is an early look at the depth chart for the 2019 Georgia offense.
This season cemented it more than ever: this is Jake Fromm’s team. Fromm held on to the starting job throughout the season, and after Fields’ departure, his role as the starter will be unchallenged heading into 2019.
Behind him, however, things are up for grabs. While Georgia entered this season with Fields as the clear-cut option at backup, head coach Kirby Smart has several options as to who could fill that role next season.
The battle will likely be between four-star freshman Dwan Mathis and three-star junior college transfer Stetson Bennett IV. Bennett will likely have the edge early since he has some familiarity with offensive coordinator Jim Chaney’s offense after being at Georgia in 2016 and 2017.
However, Mathis is a very talented player and will have a shot to compete for the backup job as well.
Running back is one of the spots where the Bulldogs lost a player to the NFL Draft, as Elijah Holyfield announced his intention to go pro on Jan. 4.
Holyfield’s departure will be felt, as he rushed for 1,018 yards and seven touchdowns in his final season in Athens. However, even without him, the Georgia running back corps shapes up to be one of the nation’s best in 2019.
The Bulldogs return D’Andre Swift, James Cook and Brian Herrien from this year’s team. That is a combined 1,628 yards and 15 touchdowns coming back, with Swift accounting for 1,049 yards and 10 touchdowns alone. He will likely find himself on some Heisman short lists heading into next season.
Georgia will also welcome in five-star 2018 recruit Zamir White back into the fold after he missed the 2018 season with an ACL tear. Rounding out the group is four-star 2019 recruit Kenny McIntosh.
Swift will remain the featured back, but it remains to be seen who will replace Holyfield as the 1B to Swift’s 1A. Any of the backs are capable of filling that void, so look for that battle to last up to the start of the 2019 season.
The passing game was the hardest hit by early departure for the NFL. Receivers Mecole Hardman and Riley Ridley and tight end Isaac Nauta all passed up their senior seasons to pursue an NFL career. Ford transfered to Illinois shortly after the end of the season.
Add to that the graduation of Godwin and that’s 131 receptions, 1,909 yards and 22 touchdowns that will have to be replaced in 2019. Outside of receiver Jeremiah Holloman, no receiver or tight end had more than Charlie Woerner’s 148 receiving yards last season.
This means the current receivers on the roster will have to step up and fill the void. Rising senior Tyler Simmons will have an opportunity to expand his role as a pass catcher, and former five-star recruit Demetris Robertson will likely see more targets after not recording a catch in 2018.
There are also rising sophomores Tommy Bush, Kearis Jackson and Matt Landers who will compete for a bigger role in the offense. Jackson will likely get a crack at replacing Hardman in the slot, while the big frames of Bush and Landers make them candidates to get some time on the outside.
Five-star Dominick Blaylock and four-star Makiya Tongue will also have a chance to work their way up in the receiver rotation upon arriving in Athens.
At tight end, rising senior Charlie Woerner will likely enter the season as the starter. The second and third tight end spots will then come down to rising sophomore John FitzPatrick and incoming four-star recruit Ryland Goede.
The tackle spots seem to be set in stone. Rising junior Andrew Thomas will continue to man left tackle, while rising redshirt sophomore Isaiah Wilson seems cemented at right tackle.
After that, there are no guarantees at guard or center.
The guard spots will probably come down to three players fighting for two spots. Rising redshirt juniors Ben Cleveland and Solomon Kindley and rising sophomore Cade Mays earned most of the starts at guard in 2018, and their familiarity with each other and the offense will give them an advantage heading into spring practice.
Rising sophomore Trey Hill could also compete for a guard spot, but he, along with fellow rising sophomore Warren Ericson, seem like the two main candidates to replace Gaillard at center. Incoming five-star recruit Clay Webb could also be a factor.
Other Bulldogs from this season such as rising junior Justin Shaffer and rising sophomore, and former five-star recruit, Jamaree Salyer could also push for a starting role, as could any of the incoming recruits. Smart has maintained he will play the best five available on the offensive line, so the three interior spots will likely be contested all the way until and through fall camp.
Printed with permission from The Red & Black independent student media organization, based in Athens, Georgia. For more UGA sports news, visit www.redandblack.com/sports.