The transfer portal and NIL have completely changed college football, but the sport got yet another (unexpected) facelift this offseason thanks to coaching upheaval around the nation.
Now you need an address book just to know where everybody is. It’s like Major League Baseball free agency, except on a (not so) amateur level.
As we prepare to start spring practice all over the nation—some teams already have hit the field—it’s worth knowing what to circle on your reading list. Everybody knows about Lincoln Riley heading to Hollywood, but will the lights be too bright? Oklahoma got a little worse in each of his last three seasons there.
Plenty of top-tier schools are ushering in new eras, and plenty other programs are looking for the next big thing at quarterback. As new contenders search for the missing pieces of the puzzle, everybody is chasing the national champion Georgia Bulldogs.
Can they repeat? Will it be Alabama yet again? Will Clemson or Oklahoma return to the national picture?
We won’t know the answers this spring, but we will know more than we do now as every coach tries to start building the winning formula. Here are the on-field storylines you need to know.
Dawgs’ Defense Starts With…Defense
Georgia’s dominant defense carried the team last season and was at its best in a 33-18 national title win over Alabama.
But transition is going to be a challenge for coach Kirby Smart in 2022. Not only has there been a huge roster turnover, but change has also hit UGA’s coaching staff, as the Dawgs must replace nearly half of their coaches. Factor in 14 players off to the NFL and another eight in the transfer portal, and that’s huge.
According to DawgNation’s Mike Griffith, Georgia is 13th in the SEC in returning production.
Just look at all the starters Georgia must replace on defense: DTs Jordan Davis and Devonte Wyatt, DE Travon Walker, LBs Nakobe Dean, Channing Tindall and Quay Walker and DBs Derion Kendrick and Lewis Cine.
Few in the nation have recruited top talent as consistently as Smart, though, and guys like edge Nolan Smith and oft-injured West Virginia transfer Tykee Smith could be exceptional players. Kelee Ringo, Jalen Carter, Smael Mondon Jr., Christopher Smith and others have elite potential.
Add in a top-five recruiting class with megastar defender prospects like 5-star DL Mykel Williams and DBs Malaki Starks and Daylen Everette already on campus and more studs like Marvin Jones Jr. and Jaheim Singletary coming later, and there is tons to love about Georgia’s reload.
But the offense needs to find its rhythm, because UGA will have some growing pains replacing all that talent and coordinator Dan Lanning, too.