ESPN just came out with their list of the top 100 college football players in 2022, and it was littered with Georgia Bulldogs.
#2 Jalen Carter
He’s the most dominant interior defensive lineman in the country, a 300-pound force who earned first-team AP All-America honors. Carter ranks second on the team with 29 quarterback hurries to go along with three sacks, seven tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. He had two forced fumbles and a sack in Georgia’s signature regular-season win over then-No. 1 Tennessee. Carter is projected as a top-3 pick in the 2023 NFL draft.
The surface level numbers aren’t eye-popping, but Carter rose to the occasion when the brights were the lightest. 29 hurries for an interior defensive lineman is insane. Carter is a disruptor against the run and the pass; he’s the best defensive tackle in college football and a candidate to go #1 overall in a few months.
#14 Brock Bowers
An impossible matchup for opposing defenses, Bowers earned the John Mackey Award as the nation’s top tight end. He’s Georgia’s leading wide receiver for the second straight year, collecting 56 receptions for 790 yards and six touchdowns. Bowers earned AP All-America honors for the second straight season and has four or more receptions in nine games.
#14 for Brock Bowers is too low for me. He just might be the best tight end we’ve ever seen in college football, even if his stats don’t scream it. Nobody can guard him one-on-one. He’s too big for cornerbacks and too fast for everyone else. He should be a top-five pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, provided he’s healthy.
#31 Broderick Jones
After emerging as Georgia’s starting left tackle late last season, Jones was a mainstay through the 2022 campaign. He protected quarterback Stetson Bennett‘s blind side, helping Georgia rank No. 4 nationally in fewest sacks allowed. The 6-4, 310-pound Jones earned first-team All-SEC honors. ESPN rates him as the No. 3 draft-eligible offensive tackle.
It’s nice to see an offensive lineman get some love. Georgia wouldn’t be who they are without dominating the trenches, and while the defense has received a bulk of the credit in recent years, the offensive line has been just as dominant. Jones will make an NFL team very happy next year, assuming he enters the NFL Draft.
#34 Stetson Bennett
He cemented an already remarkable legacy by guiding the defending champions to the SEC championship and back to the national title game. Bennett’s passing numbers improved in his second season as Georgia’s starter, as he completed more than 68% of his passes for 3,823 yards and 23 touchdowns. He was a Heisman Trophy finalist and earned the Burlsworth Trophy as the nation’s top player who began his career as a walk-on.
Frankly, this is just insulting to me. Bennett was a Heisman Finalist and the reason the Georgia Bulldogs were able to beat the Buckeyes in the CFP Semifinal. A lot of Georgia fans want to act like he’s one of the best quarterbacks in college football history. He’s not even close. However, this season, he was as good a signal caller as anybody in the country, and Bennett is going to show it one more time in the National Championship Game on Monday.
#39 Malaki Starks
ESPN’s No. 12 overall recruit in the 2022 class lived up to the billing in his freshman year. He led Georgia with seven pass breakups and had two interceptions to go along with 67 tackles, which ranked second on the team. The 6-1, 205-pound Starks was a finalist for the Shaun Alexander Freshman of the Year Award. He broke up a pass in five straight games and had a season-high 10 tackles in Georgia’s win over Tennessee.
It won’t be long before Georgia starts claiming DBU at this rate. They continue to develop stud defensive backs, and Starks — a freshman — has been even more impressive than Kelee Ringo, who is projected to go in the first round. This guy is going to be a problem in Athens over the next two seasons.
#43 Christopher Smith
Along with Jalen Carter, Smith was Georgia’s only other AP first-team All-America selection. A finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Award, Smith leads Georgia with three interceptions and ranks fourth in tackles with 58. He has started every game for the Bulldogs and helped the defense sustain its trajectory despite losing five first-round draft picks from the 2021 team. Smith shined in the SEC championship game win over LSU, returning a blocked field goal 96 yards for a touchdown, recording an interception and deflecting a pass that resulted in another interception.
Guys like Smith are the reason Georgia is back in this position today. He waited his turn, playing sparingly over his first three seasons in Athens before becoming a mainstay on the defense in 2021 and an All-American as a fifth-year Senior in 2022.
#76 Jamon Dumas-Johnson
The sophomore shined in his first full season as a starter, earning second-team AP All-America honors and forming an elite linebacker tandem with Smael Mondon Jr. Dumas-Johnson ranks third on the team in quarterback hurries with 24. Dumas-Johnson leads Georgia with four sacks and nine tackles for loss. He had a sack in Georgia’s CFP semifinal win over Ohio State.
The Georgia Bulldogs have it at all three levels. Jamon Dumas-Johnson will be a leader of the defense next season.
Photo: Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire
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