The beginning of the season brings new names to the football roster, and those names belong to athletes who are challenging the more experienced players for starting positions.
“We're sitting out there, I'm going, ‘On every two-deep there's a [freshman] guy here, and he's surpassing guys that are sophomores and juniors quickly,’” Smart said.
Smart praised freshman running backs Elijah Holyfield and Brian Herrien, but the two will be competing to share carries with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, who have both rushed for over 1,000 yards in a season since their careers began at Georgia. However, Chubb is still recovering from last year's knee injury, and Michel is limited from a fractured forearm in July.
According to Smart, both Holyfield and Herrien showed signs of promise during Georgia’s first preseason scrimmage on Saturday in Sanford Stadium.
“Saw some real tough runners,” Smart said. “They broke a lot of those tackles I'm talking about. Those guys ran with a lot of effort, with a lot of toughness. They didn't put the ball on the ground.”
Holyfield arrived at Georgia as the nation’s No. 6 running back, while Herrien was the 54th best in his position, according to 247Sports.
Smart said freshman Jacob Eason took turns with the first-team offense at Saturday’s scrimmage, unlike the first scrimmage of the spring where he did not play with the ones. The trio of quarterbacks contending for a starting spot — Eason, senior Greyson Lambert and junior Brice Ramsey — continue to share reps with no decisive starter announced.
Eason early enrolled at Georgia in January after winning the Gatorade National Football Player of the Year and being ranked the fifth best overall player in his class by 247Sports — not that Smart sees a freshman’s high school accomplishments as conclusive.
“I always argue that they're not as good as people rank them and they give them all these accolades,” Smart said. “This group has come in and competed and they're going to provide depth for us right away.”