The Georgia football program was busy on Tuesday. The Bulldogs are gearing up for a national title run in 2021, and they landed two key players out of the transfer portal who just might help them reach that goal. Both are former five-star prospects, one on defense and the other on offense.
First, former Clemson defensive back Derion Kendrick. Back in 2018, the 6-foot, 190-pound cornerback was rated the nation’s No. 26 overall player, according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings. He had some off-the-field disciplinary issues at Clemson, but he’s talented and will add much needed depth for Georgia.
The Bulldogs lost several key members of their secondary, including Eric Stokes, Tyson Campbell, Richard LeCounte III and Mark Webb, to the NFL last year. Adding Kendrick, as well as West Virginia’s Tykee Smith and Alabama’s Brandon Turnage, will help alleviate those losses.
On the other side of the ball, star quarterback JT Daniels landed another pass-catching option: tight end Arik Gilbert. After a personally successful first season at LSU in 2020, the 6-5, 249-pounder chose to enter the transfer portal during the offseason. He originally committed to Florida but backed off, and now has landed in Athens.
He is a former top-5 player in the entire 2020 recruiting class, and he fills a massive hole on Georgia’s offense. With so many injured wide receivers, including star Georgia Pickens, the team needed more reliable playmakers who can catch the football.
Apparently, Gilbert is being brought in to play wide receiver, not tight end.
“Being brought in to play wide receiver, I definitely think I can help the team win,” he recently told Dawgs247. “Nothing is going to be given to me, so I am ready to get there and get to work with the team.”
With the Darnell Washington-John FitzPatrick TE duo already in place, it isn’t surprising that Gilbert will play another position. Some feel like he’ll be playing out of position, but I actually love the decision. Gilbert already has the athleticism to move around, and now he can focus exclusively on being a big slot, like a Kyle Pitts. Pitts has some in-line ability, but he made his living essentially working as a big-bodied wide receiver.
Gilbert’s size will also be useful in the red zone, where he can line up as a perimeter receiver and go win 50-50 balls. Can you imagine his 6-5, 250-pound frame alongside Washington, 6-8, 265 pounds, in the red zone? That could be a nightmare for opposing defenses.
Whether others want to admit it or not, these moves on Tuesday will help Kirby Smart and company in their quest for a national title. Will they be enough to get them over the top? That remains to be seen, but they were excellent moves regardless.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.