Jan 1, 2021; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia coach Kirby Smart takes the field before the start of the Peach Bowl NCAA college football game between Georgia and Cincinnati at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta., on Friday, Jan. 1, 2021. Mandatory Credit: Joshua L. Jones-USA TODAY NETWORK

5-star QB Gunner Stockton commits to Georgia

Five-star quarterback Gunner Stockton committed to Georgia’s 2022 recruiting class on Thursday.

“GO DAWGS!!” head coach Kirby Smart tweeted shortly after Stockton announced his decision to play for his home-state Bulldogs.

“COMMITTED GO DAWGS,” Stockton posted on Twitter.

Stockton, from Georgia’s Rabun County High School, originally committed to South Carolina. He reopened his recruiting after the Gamecocks hired head coach Shane Beamer to replace Will Muschamp. It has been reported that Muschamp will join Smart’s coaching staff in Athens.

Stockton passed for 3,128 yards and 45 touchdowns last season, adding 1,581 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns on the ground.

The 6-foot-1, 220-pound passer is ranked as the No. 1 dual-threat QB and the No. 27 overall prospect in the nation by the 247Sports Composite.

–Field Level Media

Jan 1, 2021; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Azeez Ojulari (13) celebrates after a sack against the Cincinnati Bearcats in the second half of the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia LB Ojulari declares for NFL draft

One day after being named the defensive MVP of Georgia’s Peach Bowl win against Cincinnati, Bulldogs linebacker Azeez Ojulari announced Saturday he is heading to the NFL.

“Playing between the hedges on Saturdays is something I’ll be proud of forever. To my teammates, my brothers, y’all are family for life,” he posted on Twitter. “As far as what’s next, I have decided to declare for the 2021 NFL Draft. Wherever this next chapter takes me, I will always be a DAWG.”

A 6-foot-3, 240-pound redshirt sophomore from Marietta, Ga., Ojulari led the Bulldogs in sacks (8.5), tackles for loss (12.5) and forced fumbles (four) in 10 games this season. He was a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award, presented to the nation’s top defensive player.

He registered three fourth-quarter sacks and forced two fumbles Friday as No. 9 Georgia rallied for a 24-21 victory against No. 8 Cincinnati in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta, the Bearcats’ first loss of the season.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. ranks Ojulari as the No. 3 outside linebacker prospect in the draft pool, after Notre Dame’s Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Joseph Ossai of Texas.

Other Georgia players who have declared for the draft include offensive lineman Ben Cleveland, cornerbacks Eric Stokes and DJ Daniel, linebacker Monty Rice and tight end Tre’ McKitty.

–Field Level Media

Jan 1, 2021; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs tight end Darnell Washington (0) runs after a catch against the Cincinnati Bearcats in the first quarter of the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Podlesny kicks No. 9 Georgia past No. 8 Cincinnati in Peach Bowl

Jack Podlesny’s career-long 53-yard field goal with 3 seconds remaining lifted No. 9 Georgia to a 24-21 win over No. 8 Cincinnati in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta on Friday.

Georgia, a member of the Southeastern Conference, finished the season with an 8-2 record after winning its second straight New Year’s Six bowl. The Bulldogs claimed the Sugar Bowl last year.

Cincinnati, which won the American Athletic Conference title, finished its season with a 9-1 record.

Georgia’s JT Daniels completed 26 of 38 passes for 392 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Zamir White rushed for 39 yards and a score on 11 carries for the Bulldogs, who mustered just 45 yards on 24 carries. George Pickens had seven catches for 135 yards and a score.

Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder, the reigning AAC’s Offensive Player of the Year, completed 24 of 37 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns.

Jerome Ford rushed for a game-high 97 yards and a touchdown on eight carries.

Cincinnati extended its 14-10 lead at halftime on its second play of the third quarter, as Ford took a handoff and ran a career-long 79 yards up the middle. Ford was among the running backs filling the void left by leading rusher Gerrid Doaks (673 yards, seven TDs), who was out with a leg injury.

Georgia got back into the game by capitalizing on Cincinnati’s mistake early in the fourth quarter. After recovering Ridder’s fumble on the Bearcats’ 25-yard line, White scored on 9-yard run two plays later to pull Georgia to within 21-16 with 13:20 left to play. The Bulldogs failed on their two-point conversion attempt, however.

The Bulldogs pulled to within 21-19 on Podlesny’s 32-yard field goal with 6:43 remaining.

Georgia took advantage of its last possession, when it took over at its 20-yard line with 1:28 remaining. Daniels drove the Bulldogs to Cincinnati’s 36-yard line, setting up Podlesny’s game-winning kick.

Georgia scored a safety on the game’s final play.

After Georgia’s Jordan Davis blocked Cole Smith’s 32-yard field goal with 6:37 left in the second quarter, Georgia took its first lead on Podlesny’s 37-yard goal with 3:46 left in the half. Cincinnati, however, countered on its next possession when Josh Whyle made a diving catch in the end zone to haul in Ridder’s 11-yard pass with 6 seconds left, giving the Bearcats a 14-10 lead at halftime.

Cincinnati took advantage of a Georgia mistake to grab an early lead. After a 4-yard punt by Jake Camarda gave the Bearcats the ball at Georgia’s 42-yard line, Ridder capped a seven-play drive with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Alec Pierce for a 7-0 lead with 4:38 remaining in the first half.

After Daniels squandered Georgia’s first scoring opportunity by throwing an interception in the end zone, he didn’t make a mistake on Georgia’s next possession by capping a five-play, 44-yard drive by finding Pickens over the middle for a 16-yard score to tie the game at 7 with 29 seconds left in the opening quarter.

Georgia were without seven starters: running back James Cook, guard Ben Cleveland, tight end Tre’ McKitty, center Trey Hill, cornerbacks Eric Stokes and DJ Daniel and linebacker Monty Rice. They opted out for either health reasons, preparation for the upcoming NFL Draft, or in Cook’s case, to mourn the death of his father.

–Field Level Media

Dec 12, 2020; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Georgia Bulldogs running back James Cook (4) runs for a touchdown against Missouri Tigers defensive lineman Trajan Jeffcoat (18) during the first half at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Georgia RB Cook to miss Peach Bowl after father’s death

Georgia running back James Cook is expected to miss the upcoming Peach Bowl after his father passed away unexpectedly Tuesday, Saturday Down South reported.

Cook and his brother, Dalvin Cook of the Minnesota Vikings, planned to return home to Miami after learning that their father — also named James — died at the age of 46. The elder Cook reportedly had been suffering from complications of diabetes.

The ninth-ranked Bulldogs (7-2) are facing No. 8 Cincinnati (9-0) in the Peach Bowl on Friday.

Cook, a junior, is second on the team in carries (45), rushing yards (303) and rushing touchdowns (three). He ranks fourth on the team in catches (16), receiving yards (225) and receiving scores (two).

–Field Level Media

Sep 26, 2020; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA;  Georgia Bulldogs quarterback D'Wan Mathis (2) gets ready to pass the ball during the first quarter of the game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Georgia won the game 37-10. Mandatory Credit: Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia QB Mathis enters transfer portal

Georgia season-opening quarterback D’Wan Mathis has entered the NCAA transfer portal, Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart said Monday.

Mathis, a redshirt freshman, went 8-of-17 passing for 55 yards and one interception against Arkansas on Sept. 26 before being replaced during the game by junior Stetson Bennett.

In recent weeks, Southern California transfer JT Daniels has emerged as the starter with Mathis falling to fourth on the depth chart.

Mathis didn’t travel for Georgia’s 45-16 rout of South Carolina last Saturday, leading to heavy speculation that his time with the team was ending.

“As far as D’Wan goes, he’s handled everything first class. He didn’t want to be a distraction for the team,” Smart said. “He was hurt and disappointed things came out before the game. He wanted to handle it the right way and have it come out (Monday) when he entered the portal. I’m excited about his future.”

Smart said he tried to persuade Mathis to stay with the Bulldogs.

Mathis redshirted last season after undergoing emergency surgery for a brain cyst in May 2019.

Mathis saw action in three games this season and completed 12 of 30 passes for 89 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.

The No. 9 Bulldogs (6-2, 6-2 SEC) host Vanderbilt on Saturday.

–Field Level Media

Nov 28, 2020; Columbia, South Carolina, USA; Georgia Bulldogs tight end Tre' McKitty (87) dives for the pylon for a touchdown as South Carolina Gamecocks defensive back John Dixon (22) and defensive back Shilo Sanders (21) defend during the first quarter at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY

No. 9 Georgia runs over host South Carolina

James Cook and Zamir White each rushed for two touchdowns as No. 9 Georgia rolled to a 45-16 victory over South Carolina on Saturday night in SEC action at Columbia, S.C.

Cook gained 104 yards on just six rushes and White added 84 on 13 carries as the Bulldogs (6-2, 6-2 SEC) racked up 332 yards on the ground. JT Daniels completed 10 of 16 passes for 139 yards, two touchdowns and one interception while Tre’ McKitty and Arian Smith caught touchdown passes.

Luke Doty completed 18 of 22 passes for 190 yards, one touchdown and one interception in his first career start for South Carolina (2-7, 2-7), which lost its fifth straight game. Nick Muse had eight receptions for 131 yards and a touchdown and Kevin Harris tacked on a scoring run for the Gamecocks.

Georgia held a 471-273 edge in total offense. The South Carolina defense was hampered by the loss of middle linebacker Ernest Jones (team-high 86 tackles), who missed the second half with an ankle injury.

The Bulldogs scored touchdowns on all three first-quarter possessions while quickly pulling away from the Gamecocks.

Daniels threw a 6-yard scoring pass to McKitty on the first drive of the game and Cook scored on a 5-yard run to make it 14-0. White tacked on a 22-yard scoring run with 2:23 left in the quarter.

South Carolina received a 1-yard scoring run by Harris on the first play of the second quarter and a 39-yard field goal from Parker White to move within 21-10 with 8:23 left in the half.

But Cook exploded up the middle for a 29-yard touchdown run with 4:31 left as Georgia led 28-10 at the break.

Kearis Jackson’s 52-yard punt return early in the third quarter set up White’s 3-yard scoring run with 11:38 left. Just over seven minutes later, Jack Podlesny kicked a 32-yard field goal to increase the Bulldogs’ lead to 38-10.

Daniels connected on a 31-yard touchdown pass to Smith on the opening play of the fourth quarter. Muse caught a 7-yard scoring pass from Doty later in the quarter to cap an 11-play, 98-yard scoring drive.

–Field Level Media

Nov 21, 2020; Athens, Georgia, USA; Georgia Bulldogs wide receiver Jermaine Burton (7) reacts with quarterback JT Daniels (18) after connecting on a long touchdown pass against the Mississippi State Bulldogs during the second half at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina next test for Daniels, No. 13 Georgia

No. 13 Georgia faces a steep climb to make the College Football Playoff, but it may have found an upper-echelon quarterback as it heads into Saturday’s Southeastern Conference game against South Carolina in Columbia, S.C.

In his Georgia debut, highly touted JT Daniels passed for 401 yards and four touchdowns in last weekend’s 31-24 win over Mississippi State to pump some life into the passing game.

Daniels, a sophomore transfer from Southern California, is finally healthy after tearing an ACL and sustaining meniscus damage in the Trojans’ 2019 season opener. He transferred to Georgia in late May and appears ready to live up to his billing as a top-notch thrower.

Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart is careful when it comes to discussing Daniels’ potential.

“I don’t know that you know that right now,” Smart told reporters. “You see him make good throws. I think his mobility is not going to do anything but hopefully improve. His decision-making — the people around him have to play well. He’s got to get a run game around him to help him in order to reach his full potential and things like that.”

Daniels’ stellar debut for Georgia (5-2, 5-2 SEC) represented a career high for passing yards — he threw for 349 against Notre Dame in 2018. He was the first Bulldogs’ signal caller to reach 400 yards since Aaron Murray passed for 415 against Auburn in 2013.

“It has just been a progression over time,” Daniels said. “I am feeling a lot better. I feel really good in terms of knee health and overall body health. In terms of emotions, in the end on the victory formation it started to sink in a little bit. But, it still really hasn’t yet that I have been able to play football again.”

Freshman receiver Jermaine Burton had 10 receptions entering the contest but Daniels connected with him eight times for 197 yards — the fourth-most in a game in school history — and two touchdowns.

South Carolina (2-6, 2-6) has lost four straight games and the Gamecocks might be making a quarterback change.

Freshman quarterback Luke Doty relieved Collin Hill and played the second half of last Saturday’s 17-10 loss to Missouri. Doty completed 14 of 23 passes for 130 yards and one interception. He added a team-high 59 yards on the ground in 11 attempts.

Interim Gamecocks coach Mike Bobo said he won’t announce a starting quarterback until Saturday.

Bobo said he has a long discussion with Doty on Monday.

“I told him I wanted him to be Luke Doty. I don’t want him to be anybody else other than Luke Doty,” Bobo said. “Sometimes comparisons are going to happen, but I leave that up to you guys. I’m stressing to be Luke Doty and who he is.”

Doty has drawn raves from teammates for his energy in practices and he said that will continue in games.

“I think everybody responds well to that, and it certainly showed (Tuesday),” Doty said. “We had a really good practice and everybody was really juiced up and just ready to work.”

Bobo is entering his second game as interim coach after replacing the fired Will Muschamp. He was a quarterback for Georgia from 1994-97, was the starter his last two seasons and was a teammate of Smart (1995-98), who had 13 interceptions in his Bulldogs career.

“It doesn’t change a lot for me,” Smart said of matching up against a friend. “It’s a game that we’re trying to win based on the players on the field. It’s not between Mike and I.”

Bobo was the head coach of Colorado State last year when Muschamp-led South Carolina upset the then-No. 3 Bulldogs, 20-17, in double overtime in Athens, Ga.

–Field Level Media

Nov 21, 2020; Athens, Georgia, USA; Georgia Bulldogs quarterback JT Daniels (18) is sacked by Mississippi State Bulldogs linebacker Aaron Brule (3) and defensive end Marquiss Spencer (42) during the first quarter at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Daniels comes up big in debut, leading No. 13 Georgia past Mississippi State

J.T. Daniels threw for 401 yards and four touchdowns in his Georgia debut to lead the No. 13 Bulldogs to a 31-24 win over Mississippi State on Saturday at Sanford Stadium in Athens.

Daniels, a redshirt sophomore who transferred from Southern Cal, completed 28 of 38 passes for the Bulldogs (5-2, 5-2 SEC). Daniels became the first Georgia quarterback to throw for 400 yards since Aaron Murray in 2013. His 40-yard touchdown to Kearis Jackson with 9:50 remaining broke a 24-24 tie and put Georgia ahead to stay.

Mississippi State had one final possession and drove to the 47, but quarterback Will Rogers was sacked by Azeez Ojulari on fourth-and-7 to end the hopes for the Bulldogs. Georgia ran the final 1:18 off the clock.

Two of Daniels’ touchdowns went to Jermaine Burton, who caught eight passes for 197 yards, the fourth most in school history and just shy of the record of 205 gained by Tavarres King in 2012. George Pickens, who missed the last two games with an injury, caught eight passes for 87 yards and one touchdown.

Mississippi State (2-5, 2-5) moved the ball steadily behind Rogers. The freshman completed 41 of 52 passes for 336 yards and one touchdown. Jaden Walley caught seven passes for 115 yards and one touchdown. Osirus Mitchell and Dillon Johnson also caught seven passes.

The game was tied 17-17 at halftime as the two teams exchanged scores.

Mississippi State’s Brandon Ruiz opened the scoring in the first quarter, completing a 15-play drive with a 22-yard field goal, but Georgia answered with an 11-play drive that ended when Pickens caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from Daniels.

Mississippi State scored on another long 14-play drive, with Dillon Johnson scoring on a 4-yard run, but Georgia tied it 10-10 on Jack Podlesny’s 41-yard field goal.

Mississippi State regained the lead on a 51-yard pass from Rogers to Walley, only to have Georgia even the score on Burton’s 18-yard toss from Daniels.

The teams matched touchdowns in the third quarter. Georgia scored on a 48-yard pass from Daniels to Burton and Mississippi State evened it at 24-24 on a 3-yard Johnson run.

–Field Level Media