Georgia football newcomers' heads can be 'spinning.' One freshman now sidelined for spring

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Georgia head coach Kirby Smart during Georgia’s spring practice session in Athens, Ga., on Tuesday, March 14, 2023. (Tony Walsh/UGAAA)
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart during Georgia’s spring practice session in Athens, Ga., on Tuesday, March 14, 2023. (Tony Walsh/UGAAA)

A quarter of Georgia football's scholarship players on the spring roster stepped onto campus as students this semester.

That includes 18 early enrollees from the 2023 signing class and three transfers.

“You have to teach, you have to slow down and develop,” coach Kirby Smart said Monday at an appearance before the Macon Touchdown Club in a video posted by The Central Georgia Sports Report.

All-American junior tight end Brock Bowers remembered Tuesday night about the challenges of learning the playbook fresh out of high school

“The first spring you’re buried in it,” he said.

Freshman tight end Pearce Spurlin will have to do his learning strictly as an observer.

The 6-foot-7, 240-pound four-star signee from South Walton High in Santa Rosa Beach. Fla., is out for the rest of the spring due to a broken collarbone, his father confirmed Wednesday morning.

“Thankfully, he will be ready for summer practice, and he can't wait to get out on the field with his teammates,” Pearce Spurlin II said via email. “UGA is very lucky to have the medical facilities and staff to support these kids.  Pearce is also receiving so much support from his teammates, friends and UGA fans which will make his recovery easier.”

Another early enrollee, offensive lineman Joshua Miller, was already out for the spring after shoulder surgery before practices began.

The 15 spring practices are important going from recruit to college contributor, especially at a program like Georgia coming off back-to-back national titles.

“That transition from high school to college is big,” cornerback Javon Bullard said. “I know those guys in their minds are probably going crazy. It’s a process. I’m glad that they’re here early because I feel like that helped me in the long run, getting here early, learning the playbook, learning the standard. The way we do things here is different.

Bullard joined the Bulldogs in January of 2021 out of Baldwin High in Milledgeville and ended up making a team-high seven tackles for the Red squad in the spring game.

“Your head is spinning. It says a lot that we have to practice our practice,” Bullard said smiling. “In the SEC, it’s different. It’s tough, it’s physical. Those guys are already great physically, but the mindset part of it is probably the biggest aspect.”

Georgia is down to three healthy scholarship tight ends this spring in Bowers, sophomore Oscar Delp and freshman Lawson Luckie from Norcross.

It still has Bowers, the Mackey Award winner for nation’s best tight end, while 6-foot-7, 265-pound Darnell Washington moved on after three Georgia seasons where he could go on the first night of the NFL draft.

“We’re going to miss Darnell,” Bowers said. “He was like a first round pick. We’re going to take a little bit of a hit. Delp’s come in there and put on a little bit of weight. He’s been blocking pretty good so far this camp. Just have to sustain and try to fill that role.”

This article originally appeared on Athens Banner-Herald: Georgia football newcomers try to find way. TE Pearce Spurlin sidelined