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ESPN identifies Georgia's top newcomers for 2024

Palmber-Thombsby:Palmer Thombs06/07/24

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ESPN’s offseason coverage of College Football continues on, and recently, the Worldwide Leader in Sports was looking at the country’s top newcomers. Georgia, which brought in the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class in 2024, is near the top of the list, and while the Bulldogs don’t rank as the team expected to rely on its first-year players the most, that’s not a bad thing. It just means Kirby Smart and company have a veteran squad this season.

Still, there are a few newcomers ESPN expects to make an impact. Transfers Trevor Etienne (Florida), Colbie Young (Miami) and Ben Yurosek (Stanford) are being looked to as instant contributors at key positions. Etienne and Young stepped in and showed that this spring, making their names known at running back and wide receiver respectively, while Yurosek, a versatile tight end, is thought of as Georgia’s best option to replace Brock Bowers.

“Kirby Smart is winning championships with great defense and a strong running game. The Bulldogs lost Daijun Edwards and Kendall Milton, their top rushers from a year ago. Etienne, a top-ranked running back in the winter portal, was a very productive back the past two years running behind an average offensive line at Florida. He is a versatile, every-down back who could open up coordinator Mike Bobo’s offense,” the duo of Craig Haubert and Billy Tucker wrote for ESPN. “Young received high praise this spring. He’s a matchup nightmare on the outside with his frame (6-3, 215 pounds) and pass-catching skills. We expect Yurosek to contribute at tight end this fall and compete with Oscar Delp to fill Brock Bowers’ huge production void. Yurosek’s production has dipped the past few seasons, but full health coupled with a strong quarterback could lead to impact play.”

Of course there’s the freshmen too. Almost every season Georgia sees a few of the youngsters stepping in to big roles. Last year guys like CJ Allen and Raylen Wilson did so on defense. It was Malaki Starks and Mykel Williams the year before while Bowers and Adonai Mitchell were both crucial to Georgia’s success in 2021.

This year, it seems UGA’s defense is the most likely side of the ball to see a freshman emerge. That makes sense with the combination of experience on offense and the number of five-stars signed on defense. Cornerback Ellis Robinson, linebacker Justin Williams, safety KJ Bolden and defensive lineman Joseph Jonah-Ajonye were Georgia’s four highest rated players in the Class of 2024 – all coming in as top 30 players nationally. ESPN circled those four, as well as tight end Jaden Reddell, as ones to watch this fall.

“The Dawgs’ top-ranked recruiting class doesn’t disappoint and has four true freshmen who could make an impact,” ESPN wrote. “Jonah-Ajonye was the lowest rated but perhaps had the best spring. Robinson and Bolden have been as advertised. The latter’s speed and athleticism at safety may be too good to keep him on the bench. Williams will be one of the fastest linebackers in the SEC but is still developing the size for a full-time linebacker role and is part of arguably in the most talented inside linebacker room in all of college football.”

Regardless of whether its freshmen or transfers that are stepping into new spots, it’s the new age of College Football with teams seemingly getting younger and younger as the years go on. Players are in and out of programs in three seasons as they head to the NFL, and if they aren’t on that track, oftentimes the portal is the most probable outcome. Georgia tries its best to retain the talent, but sometimes that’s just not possible.

Either way, the Bulldogs are reloaded for 2024 with tons of reasons for optimism. Many come in the form of experienced options like Carson Beck, veteran offensive linemen and returnees on defense. However, as ESPN explained, it’s also easy to see a path for playing time for a few of the team’s newest members too.

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