The Georgia football team will have its annual “G-Day” spring football game on April 21st. The event has a new energy surrounding it ever since over 93,000 Georgia fans packed Sanford Stadium for Kirby Smart’s first G-Day spring game back in 2016. This year, rumors are that Sanford Stadium could again reach full capacity for the spring game. Looking ahead, here are three players to watch carefully during next weekend’s game:
1. Justin Fields-QB
While Jake Fromm is the established starting quarterback for the Georgia Bulldogs, fans are eager get their first glimpse of Justin Fields in a Georgia uniform. Fields is a freshman who enrolled early back in January. He was rated the number one overall high school recruit in America according to the ESPN 300 rankings. At 6’3″ and 225 pounds, Fields is a dynamic dual threat quarterback who possesses not only sub-4.5 speed, but also an absolute rocket for an arm. He’s drawn comparisons to players like Cam Newton and Deshaun Watson.
Given that he and Fromm are the only two scholarship quarterbacks on Georgia’s roster, it’s an inevitable certainty that Fields will see playing time this fall. His skill set and talent are simply too much to keep him off the field. Even if Jake Fromm remains the starting quarterback, expect the Georgia offense to have specific packages/plays designed to get Fields on the field. Fields has been described as a “once in a generation” type prospect by some. Georgia fans will get their first look at Fields on April 21st to see if he could eventually live up to that hype.
2. Elijah Holyfield-RB
Elijah Holyfield has been Georgia’s workhorse at running back for most of spring practice because of injuries to D’Andre Swift, Brian Herrien, and Zamir White. White won’t play in the spring game but it remains to be seen if Swift or Herrien will. Even if they do play, this spring game is very important for Elijah Holyfield.
Holyfield is a junior that has seen very limited action during his two seasons at Georgia. An ankle injury in 2016, an arrest in 2017, and having Sony Michel and Nick Chubb on the team have all been factors that have limited Holyfield’s role during his Georgia career. Despite all that, 2018 appears to be his best chance to make a true impact in the Georgia backfield.
Holyfield has a chance to be Georgia’s legitimate number two option behind D’Andre Swift in 2018. If he is able to fill that role, Georgia will have yet another thunder and lightning duo in its backfield just like it did with Sony Michel and Nick Chubb. Swift is extremely fast, versatile, and shifty which makes him comparable to Michel. Like Chubb, Holyfield is known for his low center of gravity, strength, and power. He has a real opportunity to shine in 2018. The spring game will give him the perfect platform to show the coaches and fans that he’s ready to embrace his new role.
3. D’Andre Walker-OLB
D’Andre Walker is going to be one of Georgia’s most important players in 2018. After losing Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy to the NFL draft, Walker remains as Georgia’s best and most experienced pass-rusher on the team. Despite having more of rotational role in 2017, Walker was second on the team in tackles for loss and sacks. In 2018, he will be solidified starter at outside linebacker and will expected to be more than just a pure pass rusher.
Walker was arguably Georgia’s best pass rusher in 2017, too. But with two future NFL talents in Carter and Bellamy getting snaps ahead of him the last two seasons, his opportunities have been limited. However, when he has gotten on the field, he always seems to find the quarterback in big moments. He’s going to be relied upon a lot more this season to set the edge and get to the quarterback even more.
Another role Walker will need to fill is being a leader on the defense. Georgia lost several defensive players to the NFL draft this offseason, leaving Walker as one of the only seniors and one of the most experienced defensive players on Georgia’s roster. At 6’3″ and 240 pounds, Walker has the size and speed to be an NFL draft pick next year. It will be up to him to seize his last opportunity in Athens to achieve that high potential.