This is the second of our 2022 football season preview blogs! The first looks at Georgia’s opponents throughout the regular season and how they stack up against the Dawgs.
It’s been a little over six months since we’ve seen our Bulldogs in a real game (196 days, but who’s counting?) and about three months since G-Day, so as we start gearing up for the season, you might need a little refresher on the Dawgs coaches and roster. Never fear: we’ve got a rundown of all the comings and goings for the men wearing the jerseys and the men wearing the Dri-Fit polos.
Kirby Smart enters his seventh season as the Dawgs’ head coach with a shiny new championship ring but a number of new faces—though some may be familiar—on his coaching staff.
- Dan Lanning, who helped build the Dawgs’ fearsome defenses from 2018 – 2021 as outside linebackers coach and defensive coordinator, accepted the head coaching position at the University of Oregon. Glenn Schumann, inside linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator, will be joined by co-defensive coordinator Will Muschamp (AB ’94). Last year, Muschamp assisted with Georgia’s defense and special teams, and he brings extensive experience as both a defensive coordinator and head coach.
- Cortez Hankton, wide receivers coach from 2018 – 2021, accepted an offer to be LSU’s wide receivers coach. Former Georgia wide receiver and 2016 interim head coach Bryan McClendon (BSED ’05) joins the Bulldogs in Hankton’s place as wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator. McClendon held assistant coaching positions at Oregon and South Carolina before returning to his alma mater.
- Defensive backs coach Jahmile Addae, who came to Athens from West Virginia in 2021, left to take the same position at the University of Miami. Fran Brown, secondary coach at Rutgers from 2020 – 2021 and a renowned recruiter, is the Dawgs new defensive backs coach.
- Chidera Uzo-Diribe is Georgia’s new outside linebackers coach, filling the linebackers coaching slot vacated by Lanning. Uzo-Diribe previously held positions at the University of Kansas, Southern Methodist University and Texas Christian University.
- Matt Luke, offensive line coach for Georgia from 2020 – 2021, stepped down from coaching after the national championship win. In his place, Stacy Searels returns to Athens after 12 years away for his second stint as UGA’s offensive line coach. His 30-year coaching career includes stops at numerous Power 5 schools.
Todd Monken, Dell McGee, Todd Hartley and Tray Scott return in 2022 to round out Smart’s on-field staff. As offensive coordinator, running backs coach, tight ends coach and defensive line coach, respectively, the success UGA enjoyed at each of those positions last year figures to continue into this one.
There’s no way around it: Many of 2021’s standouts—Jordan Davis, Nakobe Dean, Travon Walker and others—are gone, and replacing them will be difficult. The Dawgs return just 10 starters from last year, tied for fewest among SEC teams. Still, years of stockpiling blue-chip talent mean that we should have excellent replacements waiting for their turn to shine: players like Jalen Carter, Jason Dumas-Johnson and Broderick Jones have shown they are ready to step into some very big shoes.
All that said, the starters that are returning are nothing to scoff at.
- The thoroughly vindicated Stetson Bennett returns for his SIXTH season at UGA.
- The phenomenal Brock Bowers will continue to haunt defensive coordinators.
- Postseason heroes Adonai Mitchell, Kelee Ringo, Nolan Smith and the aforementioned Carter will continue to make a significant impact.
- Running backs Kenny McIntosh, Kendall Milton and Daijun Edwards will carry on Georgia’s “RBU” legacy.
- And players like Arik Gilbert, Tykee Smith and Tate Ratledge will look to sustain the massive talent they have flashed in the past.
There is also the possibility that, like Bowers in 2021, a freshman could emerge and become a playmaker. UGA signed another top class this year, and it’s full of breakout candidates.
- Defensive lineman Mykel Williams, ranked as the nation’s fourth best prospect, was named the best player in January’s All-American Bowl among the best players in the country. He has the potential to be an immediate contributor, but the same could be said for Bear Alexander, Marvin Jones Jr. or, really, any of the six talented defensive linemen the Dawgs signed.
- A pair of five-star cornerbacks, Jaheim Singletary and Daylen Everette, could push sophomore Kamari Lassiter for the starting cornerback position opposite Ringo.
- Oscar Delp, a four-star tight end prospect, enrolled in January and, three months later, posted a seven-reception, 91-yard stat line in the G-Day game. It’s hard to say that a freshman tight end might even have the chance to breakout with Bowers, Darnell Washington and Gilbert above him, but based on his G-Day performance, comments from Smart and whispers around the program, if he’s given the chance, he could shine.
- And quarterback Gunner Stockton, who broke Trevor Lawrence’s Georgia high school record for passing touchdowns in a career, will be nipping at Bennett’s heels for the starting job—along with redshirt sophomore Carson Beck and redshirt freshman Brock Vandagriff, blue-chip prospects themselves.
While we wait for kickoff in Atlanta, why not grab some championship memorabilia and support UGA students while you’re at it? Grab one of (or all of!) the three collectible national championship editions of the spring 2022 Georgia Magazine.