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2023 Early Signing Period Georgia Football Winners and Losers
Winner: Senji Uzodi Ribe
The not-so-dirty little secret about this Georgia defense is that the outside linebacker room isn’t up to the standards of past position groups. Nolan Smith’s end of season made that very clear, putting much on the plate of Robert Beal and Chambliss.
So it was important for first-year outside linebacker coach Chidera Uzo-Diribe to come out and bring a strong force to the position.
That’s exactly what he did.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart said, “We’re thrilled with the group we have there.” You know, there was a time when there were three or four very high draft picks in that room, and that’s what you need for that skill set, that helps you on third down. Physical form is useful in special teams.
Related: BREAKING: 5 Star Edge Damon Wilson is a Georgia Bulldog!
The Bulldogs went head-to-head with Ohio State and landed Wilson.
“Georgia is a great program and has great plans for me. We have everything we need for the program,” Wilson said of his commitment. “Being able to contribute from an early age was a big part of why I was committed.”
It would be unfair to expect all these players to be Smiths or Aziz Ojulari. It takes time for them to pick up speed. But for the first time since the signing class in 2019, Georgia is bringing an elite hole to the outside linebacker position. As his first-year position coach, who has never had a relationship with the SEC, Uzo-Diribe deserves some serious credit for his recruiting efforts in this cycle.
“There was a lot of speed and athleticism in that room when we were at our best. I hope our players can do that and provide defensive help.”
Loser: Transfer Portal
For all the fascination with Transfer Portal, let me remind you of Wednesday’s event.
Tight end Aric Gilbert has entered the transfer portal. This should come as no surprise. Because he hasn’t been seen on the sidelines in his last three Georgia games. One of them was his game against Kentucky on the road, but in his two latter games, Georgia didn’t have to follow his SEC travel roster restrictions.
His entry into the transfer portal ends his Georgia career. In two seasons, Gilbert caught two passes for his 16 yards. The hype around Gilbert’s addition before the 2021 season has given us more time to wonder why Gilbert wasn’t on the field and why he didn’t develop into a contributor.
Related: Georgia tight end Arik Gilbert enters name in NCAA transfer portal
Gilbert’s hope is that wherever he goes next, he can find a way to make that program work. Georgia did everything it could to try to do the right thing by Gilbert on and off the field. But in life, sometimes the best plans go awry.