NFL Teams Add Bulldog Free Agents

ATHENS, Ga. — A number of former Georgia football players have been added as free agents to a variety of NFL teams over the weekend.

 

Graduate transfer tight end Eli Wolf (Minster, Ohio) has signed with the Baltimore Ravens, graduate transfer WR Lawrence Cager (Baltimore, Md.) has signed with the New York Jets, senior S J.R. Reed (Frisco, Texas) has signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars, senior DB Tyrique McGhee (Byron, Ga.) has signed with the L.A. Rams, senior RB Brian Herrien (Douglasville, Ga.) has signed with Cleveland Browns, senior PK Rodrigo Blankenship (Marietta, Ga.) has signed with the Indianapolis Colts, senior DL Tyler Clark (Americus, Ga.) has signed with the Cincinnati Bengals and senior WR Tyler Simmons (Powder Springs, Ga.) has signed with the Houston Texans, according to NFL.com’s undrafted free agents tracker.

 

The 2020 NFL Draft was held last Thursday through Saturday.  Seven Bulldogs were selected during the seven rounds, including junior OT Andrew Thomas (Lithonia, Ga.) with the fourth overall pick by the New York Giants.  In fact, a pair of Bulldog linemen was first round picks with redshirt sophomore Isaiah Wilson (Brooklyn, N.Y.) going to the Tennessee Titans on the 29th selection.

 

Other Georgia players drafted included: junior RB D’Andre Swift (Philadelphia, Pa.) – second round, 35th pick, Detroit Lions; junior OG Solomon Kindley (Jacksonville, Fla.) – fourth round, 111th pick, Miami Dolphins; junior QB Jake Fromm (Warner Robins, Ga.) – fifth round, 167th pick, Buffalo Bills; senior TE Charlie Woerner (Tiger, Ga.) – sixth round, 190th pick, San Francisco 49ers; and senior ILB Tae Crowder (Pine Mountain, Ga.) – seventh round, *255th pick, New York Giants.

*final pick of the draft, traditionally called “Mr. Irrelevant”

Dogs Add Four More Draftees on Final Day

Bristol, Conn. — Four Georgia Bulldogs were chosen Saturday on the final day of the 2020 NFL Draft, totaling seven selections this year to tie last year’s program record and 21 in the Kirby Smart era.

Junior offensive lineman Solomon Kindley became the third Georgia offensive lineman selected in the draft, joining tackles Andrew Thomas (No. 4 overall, New York Giants) and Isaiah Wilson (No. 29 overall, Tennessee Titans).

Junior quarterback Jake Fromm was chosen by the Buffalo Bills in the fifth round, becoming the sixth Georgia quarterback selected since 2001 (tied-3rd among schools). Senior tight end Charlie Woerner was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the sixth round Saturday.

Senior linebacker Tae Crowder was the final selection of the 2020 Draft by the New York Giants, joining 1985 draftee Donald Chumley (father of Georgia kicker Noah Chumley) as the second Bulldog to earn the ‘Mr. Irrelevant’ distinction. Crowder and Thomas join Lorenzo Carter (2018) and Deandre Baker (2019) on the Giants’ roster.

 

With the fifth pick in the fourth round, the Miami Dolphins selected Kindley to bolster their offensive line. Kindley becomes the ninth Bulldog to be selected by the Dolphins franchise, the first pick since Arthur Lynch in 2014.

 

“To be honest, I can play either side of the guard. I can play any way the coaches need me to. I’m going to be a player to come in and wherever the coach needs me to go play at, that’s where I’m going to go play at,” Kindley said in a teleconference with Dolphins media.

 

Kindley, a Florida native from Jacksonville with family from Miami, was the first offensive lineman to commit to head coach Kirby Smart and former offensive line coach Sam Pittman in the class of 2016. An unranked three-star recruit, Kindley developed into a three-year starter at offensive guard for three-straight SEC East Division champion teams.

 

The list of Dolphins draftees from UGA also features safety Reshad Jones and tight end Randy McMichael, as well as UGA teammates defensive back Jake Scott and defensive lineman Bill Stanfill, who won back-to-back Super Bowls together in Miami in the early 1970s.

 

In the mid-fifth round, Buffalo tabbed Fromm to join their squad that went 10-6 and reached the playoffs in 2019. Fromm becomes the seventh Georgia player selected by the Bills franchise and the first since OL Cordy Glenn in 2012.

 

Fromm, a native of Warner Robins, Ga., started 42 of 43 games at the helm of the Georgia offense from 2017-19. He led the Bulldogs to three-straight SEC East Division titles, including the 2017 SEC title and the 2018 CFP Championship Game as a true freshman. He was named to the 2019 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team and was a three-time Academic All-SEC honoree.

 

“Every quarterback wants to be the starter and for me, I’ve been extremely blessed. Wherever I’ve been, I’ve played in every single game that I’ve dressed out … All I know is to stay humble and hungry and go in and make that [QB] room better in any way that I can,” Fromm said in a teleconference with Bills media.

 

Fromm’s 78 career TD passes put him in second place on UGA’s all-time list behind Aaron Murray and his 8,224 career passing yards rank fourth in program history. He also ranks 4th and 5th, respectively, on UGA’s lists of career completions (621) and attempts (982).

 

Of note, director of player development Jonas Jennings was also picked by the Bills in 2001. Fromm joins wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie—who is entering his third season in Buffalo and was Smart’s first NFL Draft selection at Georgia.

 

Later on in the sixth round, the reigning NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers picked up tight end Charlie Woerner. He becomes the 15th Bulldog to be drafted by the 49ers, but only the second in the last 30 years alongside OL John Theus in 2016.

 

Woerner, who arrived at Georgia from Tiger, Ga., started games in each of his four seasons in Athens and played in 54 of 56 games. In 2019, he started all 14 games and sported an 83.0 run blocking grade (Pro Football Focus), fourth among collegiate tight ends with at least 100 snaps. He finished his career with 34 catches for 376 yards.

Crowder, a native of Pine Mountain, Ga., was hardly ‘irrelevant’ on the field for Georgia. He started all 14 games in 2019 and led the Bulldog defense to the No. 1 national ranking in Scoring Defense (12.6 ppg—school record for few points allowed in 12+ game season).

Additionally, Crowder was named a semifinalist for the 2019 Butkus Award and finished with 122 total tackles in his Georgia career, with 10 tackles for loss, seven pass breakups and two interceptions. He becomes the 14th Bulldog taken by the Giants in the draft.

D’Andre Swift’s Conference Call with Detroit Media

On his reaction when he knew he would be selected by the Lions: “Just relieved, excited, happy, blessed, everything all in one. Just so many emotions going through my head – just to get that phone call. I’m just blessed, happy to be a Lion.”

 

On what he knows about RB Kerryon Johnson and how the two of them will be in the backfield together: “I know a lot about him. He had a great career in college – him and Bo Scarbrough. I’ve seen them first hand. He’s done great in the NFL, too. So just to go in there and build a relationship with them type of guys – I’m just looking to compete for whatever role is fit for me. I’m looking forward to meeting all my teammates.”

 

On the Lions’ having multiple SEC running backs and what that says about the conference: “It’s amazing – that just speaks volumes to the conference. I think some of the best players come through the SEC. I think it’s one of the higher conferences in college football. Just to have an all SEC backfield, that’s just a blessing.”

 

On if he had much conversation with the Lions before the Draft: “I have. It was one of the teams I talked with a little bit more than others. I didn’t know it was going to be them. I didn’t know who it was going to be, that’s the most crazy, exciting part about it.”

 

On what he knows about QB Matthew Stafford: “I have definitely seen him play, coming from Georgia – great quarterback. Looking forward to meeting him as week and build that relationship.”

 

On why Georgia has produced so many good NFL running backs: “Just how they prepare, how they prepare their backs and every position. Keep them ready for the next level no matter what is thrown at them – prepared mentally, physically. So it’s preparation.”

 

On what it means to be a part of the Georgia running back lineage in the pros: “Amazing. Just to have my name mentioned with those guys – they’re legends. I just have to do my part, so I can be talked about with them further down the line.”

 

On if he takes pride in his pass-protection: “Yeah, I think you have to. I think I was put in more of a position last year to kind of solidify it and kind of help complete my game so that teams can see that. That’s something you can definitely always work on and get better at.”

 

On what he knows about the Lions: “The first thing that came to my mind was Barry Sanders, he’s my favorite back of all-time. I didn’t really know too much about them. I don’t have a favorite football team, I just like watching football in general. Now that I’m a Lion, I’m going to definitely do my history.”

 

On if there’s something about his game he didn’t show at Georgia but can in the NFL: “I think just getting into space a lot more, but at the running routes in the slot versus whoever. Just being able to use my abilities to really showcase my talents, I think I can do that a lot more as far as getting in space and just getting mismatches and stuff like that.”

 

On how he was able to watch and learn from Hall of Fame RB Barry Sanders: “Well, everyone would always talk about him. I started watching film and highlights and just looking at his stats. (It’s) kind of unbelievable. As I got older, I tried to emulate my game to be like his in any way possible. I just love watching him.”

 

On if he thinks he can be the Lions’ first 1,000-yard rusher since 2013: “That sounds good whenever it comes down to it. Right now, I’m just looking forward to meeting the team and just competing for whatever role they think is best for me right now.”

 

 

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Swift Selected by Lions in NFL Draft’s Second Round

BRISTOL, Conn. – Junior running back D’Andre Swift was selected by the Detroit Lions with the 35th overall pick in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft Friday evening.

 

Swift was the second running back selected in the draft, following Clyde Edwards-Helaire of LSU, who was selected 32nd overall Thursday evening by the Kansas City Chiefs. He is also the 34th Georgia running back to be selected in the draft.

 

Swift learned of his selection from his family home in his hometown of Philadelphia, Pa. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the draft is being located at ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol, Conn.

 

Swift was a Maxwell Award semifinalist after eclipsing 1,000 yards rushing for the second consecutive season.  After piling up 1,218 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground in 2019 to earn All-SEC Coaches First Team honors, he became just the fifth Bulldog in history to have at least 1,000 yards in two seasons.  Swift finished his career seventh on Georgia’s all-time rushing list with 2,885 yards.

 

For his career, Swift started 17 games, including 11 in 2019.  One of the Bulldogs’ permanent captains last season, he owns the Georgia record for highest average gain per rush (minimum 400 attempts) at 6.56 yards.  His career mark ranks second in SEC history, trailing only Auburn’s Bo Jackson at 6.62 (1982-85).

 

Swift is the 15th Georgia player drafted by the Lions and second in as many years, joining tight end Isaac Nauta, who was selected in the seventh round last season. Nauta is one of three former Bulldogs on the Lions’ active roster, including 2009 first-overall pick Matthew Stafford and defensive tackle John Atkins, a 2018 undrafted free agent. Coincidentally, Swift’s draft position (35th overall) is the same slot where former teammate Nick Chubb was selected by the Cleveland Browns in 2018.

 

The NFL Draft will conclude Saturday afternoon with the final four rounds, beginning at 12 p.m. Live coverage of the draft will be available on ESPN, ABC, and NFL Network.

 

Pair Of Bulldog Linemen Selected In The NFL Draft’s First Round

BRISTOL, Conn. — Junior offensive tackle Andrew Thomas was selected by the New York Giants with the fourth overall pick while redshirt sophomore offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson was taken by the Tennessee Titans with the 29th overall pick in the opening round of the 2020 NFL Draft on Thursday night.

 

This marks the 36th draft that the Bulldogs have had at least one player taken in the first round.  It is the ninth time, including the second year out of the last three, that more than one Georgia player has been selected in the opening round.  Thomas is the top Bulldog draft pick since the Cincinnati Bengals selected A.J. Green with the fourth pick in 2011.

 

Thomas, a native of Lithonia, Ga., and graduate of Pace Academy, heard the news about his selection from his family’s home while Wilson was drafted while he was in his home state of New York.  Because of social distancing practices due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ESPN has set up its draft coverage for all three days at its headquarters in Bristol, Conn.

 

Thomas and Wilson give the Bulldogs at least one first round draft pick in five of the last six years, including the last three consecutive years where a combined six Georgia players have been selected.

 

This marks the second year in a row that the Giants have selected a Bulldog in the opening round (Deandre Baker, 30th) and the third consecutive year overall (2018, Lorenzo Carter, third round – 66th).  New York has now selected 13 total Georgia players since 1944, including one other player other than Baker in the first round (Rodney Hampton, 24th overall, 1990).

 

Wilson becomes only the third Georgia player in history taken by the Tennessee Titans and the second in as many years (OLB D’Andre Walker, 2019).  This marks the most Bulldog linemen taken since Georgia had three in 2012 and is the third time since 1999 that two Bulldog tackles have gone in the first two rounds (1999, 2003).

 

The Bulldogs have now had at least one player drafted in each of the last 28 years.

 

Thomas was an NCAA FBS consensus All-American after being named the Southeastern Conference’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy for being the best blocker for the 2019 season.  One of the Bulldogs’ four permanent captains last season, the 2019 Outland Trophy semifinalist was named to the 2018 SI.com All-America First Team and included on a number of Freshman All-American squads in 2017.

 

For his career, Thomas started 41 games (his first 15 in 2017 at right tackle and the final 26 at left tackle in 2018/2019).  He anchored an offensive line that helped the Bulldogs rank fifth nationally in 2019 with only 15 sacks allowed in 14 games (1.07/game).

 

After redshirting the 2017 season, Wilson started all 14 games of the 2018 season at right tackle and was named a Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) Freshman All-American.  He then started 10 games for the 12-2 Bulldogs in 2019 and was voted to the AP All-SEC Second Team.  Wilson graded out at 84.6 percent in pass blocks, committed a single penalty and only allowed one sack this past year.

 

Day two of the NFL Draft will begin at 7 p.m. and feature the second and third rounds.  The last four rounds of the Draft will be on Saturday starting at 12 p.m.

Bulldogs Plan For Virtual G-Day

ATHENS, Ga. — While the annual G-Day spring football game will not be played at Sanford Stadium next week, the Bulldog program has produced a virtual G-Day plan for Saturday, April 18, presented by Piedmont Healthcare.

The SEC Network will re-broadcast the 2019 matchup between Notre Dame and Georgia starting at 2 p.m. Georgia head coach Kirby Smart will tweet during the game from @KirbySmartUGA as another source of game commentary. In addition, the Bulldog radio crew, including Scott Howard, Eric Zeier and Chuck Dowdle, will have a Facebook live broadcast as a third-screen experience for fans during the afternoon.

Georgia is scheduled to open its 2020 season versus Virginia in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Monday, Sept. 7.

Georgia-Clemson to kick off the 2021 season

ATHENS — Georgia, Clemson, and the Charlotte Sports Foundation announced Tuesday that the Clemson Tigers and Georgia Bulldogs will

face one another in a neutral site season opener at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021.

The contest will be part of a 2021 rivalry series being hosted by the Charlotte Sports Foundation, including a neutral-site contest between

Appalachian State and East Carolina two days earlier on Thursday, Sept. 2.

“This is another great opportunity to schedule a national non-conference game with a top level opponent,” said UGA head coach Kirby Smart.  “Playing a regular season game in Charlotte will give our fans the opportunity for a completely new experience in a great city and top level stadium.  I know our coaches and players will be excited for the challenge to kick off the season in this kind of environment.”

The addition of the neutral-site game represents the sixth scheduled meeting between Clemson and Georgia over the next 14 seasons. In addition

to the game in Charlotte, the two programs will face one another in the 2024 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta. The historic geographic rivals also recently announced two home-and-home series that will feature games in Clemson in 2029 and 2033 and games in Athens in 2030

and 2032.

“The eyes of the nation will be on Charlotte as we start the 2021 season,” said UGA J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Greg McGarity.“It is

yet another opportunity to strengthen our schedule and provide an opportunity for our supporters to enjoy another huge matchup. We will now have at least two Power 5 opponents on our schedule through 2033.” 

The Georgia – Clemson series dates back to 1897. The teams most recently split a home-and-home series in 2013-14, with each school

defending its home turf in a pair of Top 20 matchups. The program met 24 times in a span of 26 years from 1962-87, playing one another every year with the exception of the 1966 and 1972 seasons. In back-to-back years in 1980-81, the winner of the Georgia-Clemson contest went on to

win the national championship. Georgia earned a 20-16 victory against Clemson and a national title in 1980, followed by Clemson defeating Georgia,

13-3, en route to a national title in 1981.

Georgia’s previously announced home-and-home series with Power 5 non-conference opponents include two with Clemson as mentioned (2029 at Clemson and 2030 in Athens, and 2032 in Athens and 2033 at Clemson); Texas (2028 at Austin and 2029 in Athens); UCLA (2025 in Pasadena and 2026 in Athens); Florida State (2027 in Tallahassee and 2028 in Athens); Oklahoma (2023 in Norman and 2031 in Athens); and Ohio State (2030 in Athens and 2031 in Columbus).  The Bulldogs also have three neutral site Power 5 games in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Atlanta’s Mercedes Benz Stadium:  2020 vs. Virginia; 2022 vs. Oregon; and 2024 vs. Clemson.

The game against Clemson replaces a previously scheduled contest

against San Jose State in 2021.

Bulldogs Best Baylor in Sugar Bowl, 26-14

NEW ORLEANS – Powered by stout defense and a career game from freshman wide receiver George Pickens, the fifth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs (12-2, 7-1 SEC) closed the 2019 season with a 26-14 victory over the seventh-ranked Baylor Bears (11-3, 8-1 Big 12) in the 86th Allstate Sugar Bowl Wednesday evening before 55,211 spectators at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and an ESPN primetime television audience.

 

Georgia’s victory improved its overall bowl record to 32-21-3, including its fifth victory in the Sugar Bowl. Additionally, the Bulldogs’ senior class tied the mark for most wins by a class with 44, matching the record set by the 2005 class.

 

Junior quarterback Jake Fromm led the Georgia offense, finishing 20-for-30 with 250 yards and two touchdowns. Pickens, named the Sugar Bowl Most Outstanding Player, tallied 12 catches for 175 yards and a touchdown, with 165 of those coming in the first half. On the ground, redshirt freshman tailback Zamir White amassed 92 yards rushing on 18 carries. For the evening, the Bulldogs offense posted 380 yards and finished 4-for-4 in the red zone.

 

With his performance, Pickens became the first Bulldog receiver with at least 10 catches since Isaiah McKenzie against Missouri in 2016, while his 175 yards were the most since Tavarres King notched 188 against Kentucky in 2012.

 

On the defensive front, junior cornerback DJ Daniel led with eight tackles, followed by freshman safety Lewis Cine with six. Junior safety Richard LeCounte added to his team lead with two interceptions, finishing with four for the season. The Bulldogs defense allowed 295 yards with six tackles for loss, in addition to stopping each of Baylor’s three fourth-down attempts.

 

Following a pair of Georgia punts to begin the game, the Bulldogs defense posted the game’s first highlight as LeCounte grabbed a deflected Baylor pass at the Georgia 18-yard line with one hand for his first interception of the game. Later in the quarter, a 40-yard flea flicker from Fromm to Pickens led to the evening’s first points as senior place kicker Rodrigo Blankenship connected from 24 yards out.

 

On Georgia’s next possession, Fromm efficiently moved the offense on an 8-play, 85-yard scoring drive, capped off by a 27-yard strike to Pickens at the 12:28 mark of the second quarter. After a Bears punt, the Bulldogs once again reached the red zone, capitalizing with a 31-yard Blankenship field goal, the final of his illustrious career.

 

Nearing the end of the half, Fromm tacked on another score as he found redshirt sophomore wide receiver Matt Landers for his first career touchdown on a 16-yard pass, followed by a failed two-point conversion attempt to set the halftime score at 19-0. The first half shutout was the fifth by the Georgia defense this season.

 

In the third quarter, Baylor came out energized as three catches from wide receiver Denzel Mims helped put the Bears on the scoreboard with a 12-yard touchdown, following up a 40-yard completion by Mims earlier in the 8-play, 75-yard drive.

 

The Bears crossed into Georgia territory on their ensuing drive, but on fourth down, redshirt freshman linebacker Azeez Ojulari forced a fumble by quarterback Charlie Brewer that was recovered by freshman defensive lineman Travon Walker at the Baylor 47-yard line. Along with his forced fumble, Ojulari finished with five tackles and one sack.

 

Setting up with excellent field position, the Bulldogs initially stalled at the Baylor 30-yard line, but a fake field goal allowed sophomore punter Jake Camarda to convert on fourth down with a 6-yard run. On the next play, White found the pylon for a 13-yard touchdown, increasing the margin to 26-7 Georgia at the 7:16 mark of the third quarter.

 

On the following drive, Baylor turned to junior running back Trestan Ebner, whose 42 yards and recovery of a goal line fumble helped the Bears cap off another 8-play, 75-yard drive with a 1-yard Brewer touchdown run. After a Georgia 3-and-out, Baylor once again crossed midfield to close the third quarter before electing to punt and strand the Bulldogs at their 1-yard line. Despite reaching Baylor territory, a third-down sack forced Georgia to punt.

 

With the clock running down for Baylor, an injury to Brewer forced the Bears to enter freshman backup Jacob Zeno, but he was unable to convert on 4th-and-11 with five minutes remaining. On Baylor’s final possession, LeCounte notched his second pick, allowing Georgia to kneel out the clock.

 

Georgia will next take the field on Monday, September 7 for a matchup against Virginia in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Georgia Offense Player Quotes – 2020 Allstate Sugar Bowl

QB Jake Fromm

 On taking pride in the SEC dominating in other games: “It says a lot about our conference – how strong our conference is and the competition level. We pride ourselves, week in and week out, that is a really strong conference. I think it says a lot about our conference.”

On the Baylor defensive line: “They play relentless. Those guys just keep coming. They are really good football players. They play relentless, and they play for four quarters. They always keep coming. They have really high motors, and they are going to just play tough.”

On the toll the season has taken on him: “It is a football season. Football seasons are always tough. There are a lot of highs and lows in a football season. But you love football, love this team, love this University, and I could not ask to be in a better spot.”

 

OL Solomon Kindley

On what he is looking forward to most about the Sugar Bowl: “My favorite part of the Sugar Bowl is how players that have not played much this year are getting the chance to step up. We get to see how they will respond to the situation. I know they will respond because of our next man up mentality.”

On the Baylor defensive line: “They are very good. They are fast off the ball. I think they are the strength of their defense. If we can stop them, then we will be just fine.”

On how much Jake Fromm has taken on: “Jake could have a good game or a bad game, he is going to come into that meeting the next day with a positive attitude. If we did not have Jake on this team, there would be a lot of other things people could talk about. He is the gel and glue that holds this team together. I really appreciate him.”

On making an adjustment with players out on the offensive line: “Our motto is next man up. All the guys that are stepping up are ready to be here.”

 

TB D’Andre Swift

On his health and how much he will play: “I’m practicing. I have been at the institute doing treatment. I’m going to play it by ear the next couple of days. It is a day-by-day thing.”

On the frustration of not being 100%: “It is really frustrating. I love the game of football, love being around my brothers, around the team. So, just not being out there [on the field] with my best foot forward is definitely frustrating. I’m doing everything I can to do that [be with the team]. I’m definitely trying to play in this game [Sugar Bowl].”

On assessing the offense against Baylor’s defense: “I think we have been the most focused we have been. Since the season started everybody has bought in to what the coaches are saying. We are going to be out there and hustling this game. Everybody wants to play fast and just have fun out there [on the field].”

 

TE Charlie Woerner

 On the differences between the team now and at the start of the season: “It is weird losing a lot of guys. A lot of guys are either injured or not playing. We are still Georgia. We are still a team. It is still a lot of the same dudes that we have grinded with since winter workouts and through the summer. It is a lot of guys that I know are really good players and really good guys. I’m super excited to go into this game playing with these men.”

 On getting ready for Baylor following the SEC Championship loss: “I feel like we were right there this year, trying to beat LSU in the SEC championship. This team has worked so hard, and we are really excited to be here at the Sugar Bowl. Coach Smart has done a great job with practices. This team has really bought in.”

 On Baylor’s defense: “That defense is definitely something we have not faced yet. That is not an SEC type of defense with that three-three stack type of defense that they do. That is a really good defense. Their coach has done a really good job turning the program around. They are a really good football team, and they are going to be fun to play against.”

 

PK Rodrigo Blankenship

 On how he has grown and improved as a kicker: “I think that Coach (Kevin) Butler has helped not only me, but all the specialists that he’s been able to work with here, with the mental game. He has played on the biggest stages you could possibly imagine at every level. He has played in big time games with Georgia and in the Super Bowl in his rookie season with the Bears. He has been there and done that, so there is not a question he cannot answer in a big time game or how you handle things, how you process things during the game. He has really helped me to work on my post-kick process, learning about how to evaluate yourself more objectively and not beat yourself up so much because you are going to get more opportunities later in the game. You might have to go right back out there on the field 30 seconds later because your defense gets a pick six and you have to get back out there for an extra point and another kick off. He has really helped me and all of our specialists with our mental preparation, and I think that is been huge for our success in recent years.”

On making the kick with the game on the line against Notre Dame: “I think that if I missed that kick, thankfully that wasn’t the case, Coach Smart would have had me wait until after a win to announce [my scholarship] to the team. But I think back to that game, think back to missing a field goal in the first half that no one remembers. I remember it because it was a spot on my performance in that game where I could have done better, could have helped our team more. I was grateful I was given another opportunity to go back out and bounce back so it was fortunate it worked out that way.”

Georgia Team Welcome Player Quotes

December 27, 2019

 

TE Charlie Woerner

On a different feeling this year than last year in the same situation: “It has been different, last year coming to the Sugar Bowl in the same situation like you said, but Coach Smart and the older guys have done a great job of changing things up. Coach Smart was saying practices have been a little shorter but very competitive. I think this team is a lot more excited to play in this game, and to play Baylor. They are a really good team.”

 

On keeping focus on the guys who are here and eligible to play: “Those guys made their decisions and it’s great for them, they are headed to the next level, and guys have injuries and stuff like that. This team has bought into going out there and playing the game, playing for each other and just to win a ball game. We are playing to win a ball game. We all want to win and we all want to have fun. The Sugar Bowl is a great opportunity and it’s an honor to play in this bowl.”

 

LB Monty Rice

On bowl practices and the tone set for this week: “We’ve been practicing hard just like we practiced for the SEC Championship. We are ready to go and we still have three more practices I think. We are going to get better during those and be ready to go for the game.”

On the motivation for a game like this after falling short of the season goals: “One, I would say the loss last year, you don’t want to go out two years in a row losing in this game. There’s a lot of young guys who haven’t gotten to play much this year and they’re going to be able to start this game and play a lot of snaps. I feel like they can go out there and make a case of why they should be playing.”