Nov 14, 2020; Morgantown, West Virginia, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers safety Tykee Smith (23) celebrates after defeating the TCU Horned Frogs at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia adds former Mountaineers DB Tykee Smith

Former West Virginia starting defensive back Tykee Smith is looking forward to the next step of his collegiate career.

“Same Mission, Next Chapter,” Smith posted Sunday night on Twitter. He accompanied a picture that showed him wearing a Georgia helmet and uniform.

The Bulldogs confirmed on Twitter that Smith is the newest member of the team.

Smith, who will have two years of eligibility remaining, will see a familiar face when he joins Georgia. Former Mountaineers defensive backs coach Jahmile Addae was hired by the Bulldogs in January.

“(Addae) had a huge impact, but he wasn’t even the first one to reach out to me from the staff. (Defensive coordinator Dan) Lanning was the first one, and then Coach Kirby (Smart),” Smith said, per UGASports.com. “We’ve been in touch a lot.”

Smith recorded 61 tackles, two interceptions and seven pass deflections in 10 games last season with West Virginia.

–Field Level Media

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

Five star Malaki Starks commits to Georgia

Five-star athlete Malaki Starks on Thursday committed to Georgia in the Class of 2022, picking the Bulldogs over Alabama and Clemson.

Starks is ranked the No. 4 athlete in the nation and No. 29 recruit overall, according to 247Sports’ composite rankings.

“It felt like family,” Starks, who resides in Jefferson, Ga., told Dawgs247. “I felt like Georgia was where I could go and show off my skills and compete.”

The commitment from the 6-foot-1 speedster gives Georgia the No. 2 class for 2022, per 247Sports.com.

Starks runs the 100 meters in 10.88 seconds.

Starks was also considering Auburn and Virginia Tech.

–Field Level Media

Jan 1, 2021; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia wide receiver George Pickens (1) moves the ball after pulling in a pass from Georgia quarterback JT Daniels (18) during the second half of the Peach Bowl NCAA college football game between Georgia and Cincinnati at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta., on Friday, Jan. 1, 2021.  Georgia won 24-21. Mandatory Credit: Joshua L. Jones-USA TODAY NETWORK

Georgia WR George Pickens to have surgery for torn ACL

Nov 17, 2019; Charlotte, NC, USA; Atlanta Falcons free safety Ricardo Allen (37) reacts in the fourth quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia wide receiver George Pickens will undergo surgery on the torn ACL he suffered in a non-contact play, Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart said Wednesday.

The sophomore sustained the injury Tuesday, putting his 2021 season in jeopardy.

“The good news is that the MRI showed it to be an isolated injury with no other structures involved,” Smart said. “George is a hard worker. I know he will bring the same work ethic to rehab that he shows in practice every day.”

Pickens made the 2019 All-SEC Freshman Team and was Georgia’s co-leading receiver in 2020 along with Kearis Jackson. Both had 36 receptions, with Jackson racking up 514 yards to Pickens’ 513. Pickens led the team with six receiving touchdowns.

A five-star recruit from Hoover, Ala., the 6-foot-3 Pickens has 85 catches for 1,240 yards and 14 touchdowns in two seasons in Athens.

–Field Level Media

Jan 11, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban celebrates after defeating the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama closes National Signing Day with record-setting class

National champion Alabama regained the title of No. 1 football recruiting class on National Signing Day on Wednesday, topping Ohio State.

The Crimson Tide have had the top-rated class in the nation in three of the past five years, according to national recruiting service 247Sports. The crown has been in Tuscaloosa in the odd-numbered years, with Georgia taking the title in 2018 and ‘20.

The bulk of the players nationally were signed in the early signing period in late December, with a few top players left to announce their choices on Wednesday.

The 247Sports Composite Team Rankings give a score to each team’s class, and Alabama set a record with a 327.91 score, besting the record of 324.67, set in 2010 by Urban Meyer’s Florida Gators.

Alabama cemented the record with the signing of a pair of blue-chip prospects on Wednesday: Camar Wheaton of Garland, Texas, a five-star signee who is ranked as the No. 2 running back in the nation, and four-star safety Terrion Arnold of Tallahassee, Fla. Arnold is the No. 3-ranked player at his position, per the 247Sports composite.

“We’re obviously very excited to have two additional guys to add to the class of people who signed in December,” Saban said.

In all, his class consists of 27 commits, including seven five-star prospects. Arnold and cornerback Ga’Quincy McKinstry, who signed in December, both are expected to play basketball for Alabama, too.

“We don’t have an issue with guys playing other sports,” Saban said, adding he and basketball coach Nate Oats “have a good idea of how we’re going to do it.”

Following Alabama in the ranking were perennial powers Ohio State (309.49 points), Georgia (294.55), LSU (291.37) and Clemson (291.20).

Ohio State’s class didn’t add any signees on Wednesday, but coach Ryan Day undoubtedly will be satisfied with the 21 commits — including five, five-star prospects — already signed.

The biggest signings of the day, other than from Alabama, came in the next group of five teams.

No. 6 Oregon inked Avante Dickerson of Omaha, Neb., the No. 8-ranked cornerback in the nation. He’s one of 19 four-star recruits for the Ducks, who finished No. 11 in the team rankings in 2020.

No. 7 Texas A&M added the nation’s No. 4 running back, LJ Johnson of Cypress, Texas. No. 8 Southern California picked up Raesjon Davis, the fourth-ranked outside linebacker in the country from area powerhouse Mater Dei.

Notre Dame finished in the No. 9 spot after falling to No. 18 in the Class of 2020.

Michigan, which signed coach Jim Harbaugh to a contract extension last month, closed out signing day with the No. 10 class after flipping a pair of players previously committed to other programs.

The Wolverines convinced Rayshaun Benny, a four-star in-state defensive tackle, to decommit from Michigan State. They also signed defensive tackle Ikechukwu Iwunnah from Garland, Texas, who initially committed to Colorado.

The other significant signing of the day belonged to Ole Miss, which inked Tywone Malone of New Jersey, the nation’s sixth-ranked defensive tackle. Coach Lane Kiffin’s Rebels finished with the No. 18 class in the country, up from No. 34 in 2020.

–Field Level Media

Oct 17, 2020; Columbia, South Carolina, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp disputes a call against the Auburn Tigers during the second quarter at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Will Muschamp joins Georgia as defensive analyst

Former Florida and South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp has joined Georgia as a defensive analyst, Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart said Wednesday.

It’s an off-field role for Muschamp, said Smart, who played with Muschamp briefly at Georgia in the 1990s. The two have remained longtime friends.

“As of last week we were able to get things completed with Will,” Smart said Wednesday. “He’s already made a lot of strides in terms of helping me, helping our staff. He’ll be able to help coach the coaches.”

Muschamp, 49, was fired by South Carolina in November. He was in his fifth season with the Gamecocks and finished with a 28-30 record. He coached at Florida from 2011-14 and finished 28-21 before being dismissed. He owns a 56-51 overall record.

Muschamp has also been a defensive coordinator at Auburn, Texas and LSU.

Muschamp’s son, Jackson, is a walk-on quarterback at Georgia.

–Field Level Media

Jan 11, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban and offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood (70) celebrates with the CFP National Championship trophy after beating the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

CFP champion Alabama already 2022 favorite

The celebrations were barely underway Monday night after Alabama’s latest national title when the Crimson Tide were installed as one of the favorites to claim the championship again next year.

Clemson, which lost in a national semifinal on Jan. 1, is the co-favorite or second favorite at various sportsbooks.

BetMGM and DraftKings had Alabama at +300 and Clemson at +350. FanDuel listed the Crimson Tide at +350 and the Tigers at +400, with Georgia also at +400. SportsBetting.com tabbed Alabama at +300, Clemson at +400 and Georgia at +500.

Alabama and Clemson topped PointsBet’s list at +300, with Ohio State next at +500. The Buckeyes also were the third choice at DraftKings at +400, third at BetMGM at +500 and fourth at FanDuel at +600.

The fourth choice at DraftKings was Oklahoma at +800, with Georgia at +1400. The Sooners were the fourth choice at SportsBetting.com at +600 and the co-fourth choice at FanDuel at +600, along with Ohio State. Georgia and Oklahoma shared fourth for PointsBet at +800.

Top-ranked Alabama (13-0) demolished third-ranked Ohio State 52-24 on Monday at Miami Gardens, Fla., to give coach Nick Saban his record seventh national championship.

The Buckeyes (7-1) couldn’t control Crimson Tide wide receiver DeVonta Smith, the Heisman Trophy winner, who piled up 215 yards and three touchdowns on 12 first-half receptions before exiting with an injury.

–Field Level Media

Dec 12, 2020; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Georgia Bulldogs quarterback JT Daniels (18)  throws a pass against the Missouri Tigers during the first half at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati swinging for Peach Bowl statement vs. Georgia

Georgia and Cincinnati began the 2020 season with aspirations of spots in the College Football Playoff.

A Peach Bowl meeting in Atlanta on Jan. 1 is expected to draw a lot of attention nationally and represents a worthy consolation prize.

Cincinnati won the American Athletic Conference title to finish the regular season 9-0. The Bearcats remain the subject of debate as to whether the undefeated conference champions were deserving of finishing among the top four teams in the CFP after Notre Dame was soundly defeated by Clemson in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.

The Bearcats finished No. 8, well out of the running to become the first non-Power 5 team to make the playoff. They were the highest Group of 5 team, ahead of unbeaten and No. 12 Coastal Carolina (11-0), so the Bearcats received the opportunity to play in a New Year’s Six game.

“It’s huge for our program,” Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell said. “If you want to claim you deserve an opportunity or a shot, this is an opportunity, this is a shot.

“Our guys are incredibly excited. I want to make sure everybody knows, there’s no disappointment over here. We are incredibly happy and excited to be where we are.”

Cincinnati defeated then-No. 23 Tulsa, 27-24, on a game-winning field goal in the AAC championship game on Saturday, giving the Bearcats their third win over a ranked team. Cincinnati also beat then-No. 22 Army, 24-10, and then-16th-ranked SMU, 42-13.

The Bearcats are led by quarterback Desmond Ridder, the AAC offensive player of the year who has 2,090 passing yards, with 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He has rushed for 609 yards and a team-high 12 scores. Seven Bearcats have at least 186 yards and a touchdown receiving, led by Josh Whyle’s 318 yards and five scores. Gerrid Doaks has rushed for a team-high 673 yards.

A New Year’s Six game is nothing new for No. 9 Georgia (7-2). This is the fifth consecutive year under coach Kirby Smart that the Bulldogs will play in a New Year’s Six Bowl or the CFP.

Georgia, which saw its streak of playing in three straight Southeastern Conference title games end this year, was essentially eliminated from CFP consideration with a 44-28 loss to then-No. 8 Florida on Nov. 7. Georgia also lost at then-No. 2 Alabama, 41-24, on Oct. 17, though the Bulldogs are the lone team to lead the Crimson Tide at halftime this season.

“I’ll be honest, when your intention is to win the game, that’s not going to change between his guys and your guys,” Smart said. “Every coach is going to try to find an angle that gives their guys an edge or competitive advantage, whether that’s them being ranked ahead of us or whatever. I don’t know Group of Five, Power 5, all those languages, that’s for (media). My language is football, and they’ve got a good team. They haven’t been beaten.”

The Bulldogs played quarterback carousel this season.

Georgia opened with D’Wan Mathis, shifted to Stetson Bennett and settled on JT Daniels, a highly touted transfer from Southern California. Daniels has energized what had been a stagnant offense that relied too much on its rushing attack led by Zamir White (730 yards, 10 TDs), James Cook (303 yards, three TDs) and Kenny McIntosh (234 yards, one TD).

Starting in the past three games, Daniels has thrown for 839 yards, nine touchdowns and an interception in wins over Mississippi State, South Carolina and then-No. 25 Missouri. Georgia averaged 41.6 in those games after the Bulldogs scored at least 40 just once in the previous six games.

Daniels will be challenged by a Cincinnati defense that finished the regular season No. 7 in points allowed (16.0) and 10th in yards (310.8).

“This gives a well-rounded Cincinnati team their chance to dance against a Power 5,” Peach Bowl president Gary Stokan said. “As we’ve seen in our two previous matchups, Houston won against Florida State from the ACC and UCF won against Auburn from the SEC. But on the other side, I really think Georgia’s hitting its stride and is getting some high-scoring offense and playing great on defense.”

–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

Ex-Georgia QB Mathis transferring to Temple

Georgia season-opening quarterback D’Wan Mathis will transfer to Temple, he announced Monday on social media.

“I have always had a tremendous belief in who I can be as a player,” he posted to Twitter. “The work begins now and I’m happy to announce that I will be transferring to Temple University.”

A native of Michigan, Mathis was a four-star recruit in the Class of 2018. He originally committed to Ohio State, but changed his mind when Justin Fields announced he was leaving Georgia after his freshman season. Fields wound up with the Buckeyes.

A redshirt freshman, Mathis 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.

Southern California transfer JT Daniels then emerged as the starter with Mathis falling further on the depth chart.

Mathis didn’t travel for Georgia’s 45-16 rout of South Carolina on Nov. 28, 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,” coach Kirby Smart said two weeks ago when he announced Mathis had entered the transfer portal.

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 (7-2, 7-2 SEC) are scheduled to host winless Vanderbilt on Saturday.

Temple, which finished the season with a 1-6 record, plays in the American Athletic Conference. The Owls’ 2020 starting quarterback, Anthony Russo, entered the transfer portal last week.

–Field Level Media

Dec 12, 2020; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Georgia Bulldogs running back James Cook (4) runs for a touchdown against Missouri Tigers safety Tyree Gillespie (9) during the first half at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Daniels paces No. 9 Georgia in rout of No. 25 Missouri

JT Daniels passed for 299 yards and three touchdowns as No. 9 Georgia rolled to a 49-14 victory over No. 25 Missouri on Saturday in Columbia, Mo.

George Pickens caught five passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns as the Bulldogs (7-2) won their third consecutive game.

Zamir White rushed for 126 yards and a touchdown, Daijun Edwards ran for 103 yards and a score and James Cook had both a receiving and rushing touchdown.

Connor Bazelak passed for 139 yards and ran for a touchdown for the Tigers (5-4).

The Bulldogs scored 35 unanswered points after the Tigers tied the game at 14 late in the first half. Overall, Georgia held a pronounced advantage in total yards (615-200) and first downs (28-11).

Eric Stokes intercepted Bazelak’s second pass of the game and returned it 27 yards to the Missouri 23. The Bulldogs ran six consecutive rushing plays and Kenny McIntosh scored from 2 yards out as Georgia moved ahead 7-0.

The Bulldogs drove 89 yards on their second possession to make it 14-0. Cook capped the drive with a 37-yard touchdown catch.

The Tigers countered with an eight-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that cut Georgia’s lead in half. The big play was a 29-yard pass from receiver Keke Chism to Messiah Swinson — after Chism caught a lateral pass from Bazelak.

Bazelak scored on a 2-yard run on the next play.

Georgia dodged danger with 2:50 left in the half. Kearis Jackson muffed a punt, but the Bulldogs recovered the ball on their 18-yard line.

But their next special teams mishap cost them. Jason Carmada’s punt was blocked by Mason Pack and advanced to the Georgia 1-yard line by Will Norris.

Larry Rountree III ran the ball in from there as Missouri tied the game at 14 with 1:20 left in the half.

The Bulldogs responded with a rapid-fire 75-yard drive to take a 21-14 lead into the half. Pickens made a spectacular 36-yard touchdown catch with 37 seconds left in the second quarter.

Georgia opened the second half with another 75-yard scoring drive. Daniels capped it with another touchdown pass to Pickens, this time for 31 yards, as the Bulldogs expanded their lead to 28-14.

White’s 43-yard touchdown run vaulted the Bulldogs to a 35-14 lead and the rout was on. Georgia made it 42-14 with Cook’s 9-yard TD run, then Edwards scored on a 6-yard run as the Bulldogs pushed their lead to 49-14.

–Field Level Media