An updated Georgia football roster reveals that six players have changed jersey numbers for the upcoming football season.
Reporters received new Georgia football rosters on Tuesday revealing new jersey numbers for six Bulldogs. Most of the changes are on defense, two offensive players will sport new numbers this coming season.
The former five-star linebacker is moving away from a traditional defensive front-seven number. Adam Anderson wore No. 56 last year and is now wearing No. 19. Of course defensive players haven’t adhered to traditional numbers in years. Earlier this decade, we had the 300-plus pounder John Jenkins wear No. 6. And recent pass rushers D’Andre Walker and Davin Bellamy wore quarterback numbers (No. 15 and No. 17). Anderson joins them with No. 19.
The number has been worn by safety Jarvis Wilson for the last four years. The last notable Bulldog to wear No. 19 was cornerback Sanders Commings. I always thought he was underrated. He rarely got beat and was very physical, especially on deep routes.
But the No. 19 comes with much larger shoes to fill. Two of the greatest players in school history wore No. 19. From 1994-to-1997, Hines Ward played multiple positions while wearing the number. He accounted for 4,791 all-purpose yards in four seasons while wearing No. 19. Ward moved on from Georgia to have a stellar NFL career. He’s ineligible for the College Football Hall of Fame under current rules, but he’ll certainly join the Pro Football Hall of Fame some day.
In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, Scott Woerner became an All-American and helped the Dawgs win a National Championship while wearing No. 19. Woerner is a recent inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame, joining in 2016. Adam Anderson is inheriting a huge legacy from Ward and Woerner.
Fellow outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari is joining Anderson by ditching a traditional front-seven number in favor of a traditional quarterback number. He sheds No. 38 in favor of No. 13, the number defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter wore during his time as a Bulldog. Ojulari is a former four-star, top-150 player, but an ACL tear suffered during his senior season at Marietta High School forced him to miss most of the 2018 season. He began playing late in the year, before receiving a lot of playing time in the Sugar Bowl.
The No. 13 doesn’t have a huge legacy attached to it, great Bulldogs wearing the unlucky number don’t come around often, but when they do, those players are special. The last great No. 13 for Georgia was one of my grandfather’s personal favorites, Jake Scott. He was an interception machine at Georgia who helped lead the Dawgs to an SEC Championship in 1968. Scott went on to have a great NFL career and became a Super Bowl VP with the Miami Dolphins after winning Super Bowl VII. He joined the College Football Hall of Fame in 2011.
Before him was Vernon “Catfish” Smith, one of Georgia’s first All-Americans in 1931. Smith earned All-Southern Conference honors three times from 1929-to-1931. He retired from the military in 1963 as an Air Force colonel and joined the College Football Hall of Fame class of 1979.
The other player who recovered from a torn ACL to join the team late in 2018, Divaad Wilson sheds one legacy number in favor of another. Wilson wore No. 16 last year, an important number for a defensive back these days sice head coach Kirby Smart wore the number as a Bulldog in the mid-to-late 1990’s. Wilson now wears the No. 8 which comes with a very different legacy.
DeAngelo Gibbs wore the number most recently on defense, but when Georgia fans see the No. 8, they’ll usually think of great receivers. Riley Ridley, A.J. Green and Terrence Edwards all wore No. 8 in Athens. As far as defensive players go, the best Bulldog to wear No. 8 was likely safety Tony Flack who intercepted nine passes from 1982-to-1985.
Another big star from last year’s recruiting class is changing numbers in preparation of a breakout season. Otis Reese, the former top-100 four-star recruit drops No. 17 for the No. 6. Natrez Patrick sported the No. 6 for the last four seasons. recruiting sites listed Reese as an outside linebacker, but defensive coaches moved him to safety wear he’ll compete with Richard LeCounte and J.R. Reed for playing time.
Before Patrick, the aforementioned big-man John Jenkins wore No. 6 and that number looked odd on his huge jersey. Awkward jersey behind, Jenkins was a great nose guard and he really helped smoothen Georgia’s transition from the 4-3 defense to the 3-4. Before Jenkins, the last star Georgia player to wear No. 6 was safety Sean Jones who earned All-American honors in 2003 before a pretty good NFL career. Highlights of Jones’s career as a Bulldog revolve around his 93-yard fumble return for a touchdowns against Tennessee before halftime which changed the entire complexion of that game.
The former top-50 running back James Cook moves two spots up the numerical roster from No. 6 to No. 4. Cook is expected to take on a much larger role in Georgia’s offense after Elijah Holyfield’s departure. Last year, Cook was fourth on the team with 284 rushing yards, he also played a lot of snaps as a slot receiver. That probably won’t change. A hallmark of Georgia’s current offense is playing a second running back in varying positions.
Cook’s new number was previously worn by Keith Marshall, who’s promising career was ruined by a knee injury he never recovered from. The best Bulldog to wear the No. 4 however was Champ Bailey. The 1998 consensus All-American and Bronko Nagurski Award winner hasn’t entered the College football Hall of Fame yet for some reason, but he is entering the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year.
No. 4 is a fitting number for Cook. He’ll play running back and slot wide receiver, and he’ll probably return either kickoffs or punts. As a Bulldog, Bailey played mostly at cornerback, but he also played a lot as a receiver, ending his career with 978 receiving yards and five touchdowns. Plus, he returned kickoffs and punts.
To this point, a player without much playing time as a Bulldog, Matt Landers name seems to always be in the headlines for good reasons. Smart praised his ability to test defensive backs as a scout team player in 2017. Former receivers Javon Wims and Mecole Hardman have each praised Landers’ potential on Saturdays. So if Landers does emerge as a prime target for Jake Fromm in 2019, it’ll be with the No. 5 instead of No. 15.
Landers inherits the number from Terry Godwin, who scored 11 touchdowns and racked up 1,800 receiving yards in four seasons. The best Bulldog to ever wear the No. 5 is easily Garrison Hearst. The Bulldog legend has the school record for rushing touchdowns in a year with 19 in 1992. He rushed for 3,232 yards in his career and finished third in the Heisman voting in 1992.