Georgia spring game 2022

Georgia spring game 2022: The defending national champions will hit the field at Sanford Stadium on Saturday afternoon

Georgia hits the field for one more practice to conclude the spring season on Saturday, as the Bulldogs look to give the college football world a glimpse of what the defending national champions will look like in 2022. Coach Kirby Smart just led the program to its first national title since 1980, but sustaining success is a much different and more difficult challenge.

The Bulldogs lost a small village of superstars to the NFL Draft, including defensive lineman Jordan Davis, linebacker Nakobe Dean, and running backs Zamir White and James Cook. That will test Smart’s strategy of stacking five-star players on five-star players through recruiting and the transfer portal. Can Georgia be the “plug-and-play” program that Alabama, Clemson, and Ohio State have become? That’s the biggest question heading into the meat of the offseason. 

Let’s break down the biggest storylines and how to watch the annual G-Day Game.

How to watch the 2022 Georgia spring game live

Date: Saturday, April 16 | Time: 1 p.m. ET

Location: Sanford Stadium — Athens, Georgia

TV: ESPN2 | Live stream: fuboTV (try for free)

2022 Georgia spring game: Need to know

1. Quarterbacks behind Bennett: Fair or not, a lot of eyes will be on returning starting quarterback Stetson Bennett IV on Saturday. The former walk-on took over for JT Daniels in the middle of last season and led the Dawgs to the title, but could that have been a flash in the pan? He struggled for three-quarters of the national championship before a fourth quarter for the ages that included two touchdown passes. Carson Beck and Brock Vandagriff — two high-profile recruits — are waiting in the wings in case Bennett falters. It’ll be interesting to see how each of them looks on Saturday and what they can do if the criticism of Bennett becomes reality. 

2. Defensive front: The bulldog front seven has been decimated by departures, but the foundation is still solid with an incredibly underrated Jalen Carter upfront and superstar Nolan Smith at linebacker. What’s more, Glenn Schumann and Will Muschamp — two coaches promoted from within — have taken over for former defensive coordinator Dan Lanning after he took the head coaching job at Oregon. Championship-level defenses have to have enough depth up front to operate like a hockey team making line changes. The Bulldogs will get a chance to show off that depth on Saturday while giving fans insight into what the future holds.

3. Who steps up at wide receiver? Georgia Pickens moved on to the NFL and Jermaine Burton transferred to Alabama, but Kearis Jackson announced his return to the program. In addition to Jackson, Adonai Mitchell, Ladd McConkey, Marcus Rosemary-Jacksaint, and Dominick Blaylock are all back. Somebody needs to step up and be that go-to guy for Bennett, and Smart will give everybody an idea of how the depth chart looks on Saturday. 

Feeling the love, Luther Burden III aims to change the fortunes of Missouri, St. Louis athletes, and his family

Burden took a bit of a risk that will pay dividends for all parties if it works out as he and his family expect

COLUMBIA, Mo. — The driver of a used, gray Chevy Impala pulled out of the Missouri football facility last week. A lot was riding on what he would do next. Not at that moment, exactly, but soon. Luther Burden III knew that.

You see, the likes of the game-changing freshman wide receiver, who is already riding with the nickname “LB3”, aren’t supposed to play for the likes of Mizzou. History tells us that.

The team has lured only four five-star prospects in its history. Recently, it has been a mid-level SEC program that has seen two winning seasons since playing in back-to-back conference championship games in 2013-14.

That was eight years and two coaches ago.

Some things remain the same in a state where again when there is top national talent, it is usually snatched up by a national power. Just not a Burden. Not in December when the nation’s No. 1 WR prospect signed with the Tigers, prompting the obvious question: Why?

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“Go somewhere where you’re needed instead of where you’re wanted,” Burden told CBS Sports, recalling some far-off recruiting advice from a coterie of family and advisors who assisted him in the process. “I felt Missouri was where they needed me.”

That’s for sure. What’s different is that Oklahoma, Georgia, and Alabama needed him, too. Needed him. And those programs aren’t used to losing such recruiting battles.

Along with Mizzou, those were the finalists from a list of 50 offers at last count. The 6-foot, 200-pound Burden is not only considered the No. 1 WR in the Class of 2022 but also the No. 3 overall player, according to 247Sports.

Before a defensive back lines up against him, surrounding Burden is a bubble of family, friends, advisors, hopes, and expectations that make the receiver — like it or not — an inflection point for Missouri football.

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“I look at Luther like he’s my son,” said Demetrious Johnson, a former Missouri defensive back from the early 1980s who has advised Burden in the recruiting process. “I’m going to protect him as much as I can. I don’t care who it pisses off.”

Burden turned down Bama where Nick Saban collects star receivers like tie clips these days. Position coach Holoman Wiggins worked hard to land the latest prize.

“Alabama is always going to be in the conversation,” Burden said. “Nick Saban, he’s a great coach.”

But there was a feeling that Burden had made the right decision when Lincoln Riley left the Sooners for the West Coast. Georgia WR coach Cortez Hankton, with whom Burden has become close, took the same job with LSU.

“I wanted to be close to my family,” Burden said. “I wanted to change the environment here and turn everything around and make us a powerhouse.”

Compare Missouri’s history of having signed just four five-star prospects with what Texas A&M pulled off in the latest recruiting cycle. The Aggies hauled in a record eight five-star prospects in the Class of 2022.

A bit of Mizzou’s five-star history: Defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr. was the last five-star signee in 2016. A freshman All-American, Beckner was slowed by injuries and off-field issues. In 2012, Dorial Green-Beckham was, like Burden, added as a game-changing receiver. “DGB” played two seasons before being kicked off the team and transferring to Oklahoma. He never saw the field for the Sooners.

Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson became the 13th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft after playing parts of two seasons for Missouri following a junior-college career. Richardson just completed his ninth year in the NFL.

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But back before such things as recruiting ratings, running back Tony VanZant out of suburban St. Louis held the promise of revitalizing Mizzou hopes in the mid-1980s. “TVZ” was largely regarded back then as the best prospect in Missouri history. His career never got off the ground after a knee injury suffered playing basketball.

Meanwhile, The Next One recently pulled out of that parking lot on a high having just gotten his driver’s license.

“He was so freaking excited,” Johnson said. 

Against that backdrop, Burden steps onto the big stage attempting to help Mizzou from mid-SEC status to national relevancy. These are high times for talent in the state. Nineteen of the 39 FBS Class of 2022 prospects in Missouri are off to Power Five programs. Of those 19, Mizzou snagged eight, including three of the top five.

“It’s about the number of guys who can compete in our league,” Tigers coach Eli Drinkwitz said. “[Does the state of Missouri] have enough SEC players? Right now, there are enough SEC or top-15 program-type players. There are 8-10 every year.”

The burden is one of them. 

“Usually [the best players here] go to places like Georgia and Alabama,” Burden told reporters during December’s early signing day at a local Boys & Girls Club that hosted his commitment event. “I just want to start a trend here in St. Louis for the younger people with talent in front of me to start carrying St. Louis and stay home and take our talents to Missouri.”

Similar stay-home words have been spoken before by Mizzou recruits. But this time, Burden turned heads by turning down those superpowers. His decision left recruiting gurus with mouths agape.

It left Burden feeling at home. The second-youngest in a family that includes nine other siblings, all girls, can now feel the love nearby every day.

His father, Luther Burden Jr., is a former basketball star at Saint Louis University. Before he has caught a collegiate pass, the kid his family calls “Trey” will be the grand marshal in an upcoming St. Louis May Day parade.

Missouri is two hours west of where Burden III grew up in North St. Louis. The St. Louis metro area has long been a flashpoint for what the Tigers did and didn’t do in recruiting.

“To put it in proper perspective, [the Tigers] don’t get these types of players,” Johnson said. “They may get one like him every 20 years. Plus, a lot is riding on him, a lot riding on his success.”

Start with Drinkwitz, who has pinned a large part of his success on in-state talent entering his third season. In that sense, the 39-year-old “gets it” when it comes to recruiting — physically, stylistically, and politically.

“He’s not that far removed from those young players,” Johnson said of Drinkwitz. “He gets it. [Other coaches] are older guys, late 40s, early 50s. At his age, he’s been around young African-American players. He knows the jargon. He knows how they roll. He doesn’t have the perspective of older white coaches.”

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Drinkwitz is only 11-12 in his first two seasons but has already beaten Florida and LSU. What followed is a 14th-ranked recruiting class that includes those eight Missourians. Add in two “in-state” Kansas players from just across the border in metro Kansas City, and Drinkwitz is relying on local talent to make a dent in the mighty SEC.

“I can’t speak to the past or what the future is going to hold,” Drinkwitz said. “College football right now is a results-based business. Right now, there is enough talent in the state to rival just about anybody.”

Start with what has become the legend of LB3 at the tender age of 18. In a scrimmage as a youth, Burden III scored five touchdowns. “With no blocking,” his dad recalled. That’s where the nickname “Touchdown Luther” started.

In fifth grade, Burden III dislocated his elbow, got moved from running back to a receiver, and still thrived.

“I was playing with the arm [dangling],” Burden III said. “I couldn’t even stretch it all the way. I didn’t even get it treated. I had an elbow pad and just suited up.”

As a 14-year-old freshman wideout at Cardinal Ritter College Prep in St. Louis, Burden III scored 15 touchdowns. That’s when recruiters started picking up the scent. They were already familiar with the high school for producing Jameson Williams, who would become an All-America selection at Alabama.

In a December 2018 basketball tournament, Burden III took the ball end-to-end to beat CBC with a fadeaway baseline jumper at the buzzer. Earlier that year, he and future North Carolina star guard Caleb Love the only St. Louis players among 87 at a Junior National Olympic Camp in Colorado.

Burden III’s performance last September against St. John Bosco in Bellflower, California, translates to any recruiting language. Facing a national high school power, he caught 10 passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns, adding a 70-yard punt return for a score.

As a senior, he transferred across the Mississippi River to another national power, East St. Louis High. In his one-and-done semester, Burden III helped the Flyers to the state championship game. The move allowed the receiver to graduate early and enroll at Missouri in January.

“That was my decision,” Burden Jr. said. “I kept my ear to the ground, and I wondered how these kids graduate early. I did my research and decided to take him out of Cardinal Ritter. I love St. Louis, but it’s not the place for a young Black man. There’s too much going on.

“I don’t know what these kids are drinking or smoking. I didn’t want him to experience that. I wanted him to get out of there.”

Burden Jr. is well aware of that East St. Louis legacy at Mizzou. Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow and four-time Super Bowl champion Eric Wright are from there. So is Beckner. Current Tigers quarterback Tyler Macon and WR Dominic Lovett are part of the future. East St. Louis product Cuonzo Martin was actively involved in Burden III’s recruiting before being fired as Missouri’s basketball coach last month.

Burden Jr. remains one of the best basketball players in Saint Louis University history. Former coach Rich Grawer once called him the best mid-range shooter he’d ever seen.

Upon his graduation, Burden Jr. was asked by the Indiana Pacers to go to the CBA, the precursor to today’s G League, in hopes his ball-handling would improve. Nothing clicked. In 1987, Burden Jr. was arrested for selling two ounces of cocaine to an undercover officer. He was sentenced to four years and served 12 months.

“He made sure I didn’t go down that path,” Burden III said. “That’s my best friend.”

Burden Jr. has long been a pillar of his community. For years, he worked two jobs — one at Walmart from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., the other at a local hospital as a caregiver. Today, five years removed from a diabetic coma, he works one job at a supermarket distribution center.

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“He’s competitive,” Burden Jr. said of LB3. “I used to make him cry playing basketball. When he got to 15, I started backing him down the lane. We stopped playing when he got to high school. I ain’t no dummy. I know when to stop.”

Start with Johnson. He is a pillar of the community himself. When it started three decades ago, the Demetrious Johnson Charitable Foundation hands out 10 turkeys on Thanksgiving. Now, it gives out about 3,000 each year.

The youngest of eight children, Johnson grew up in St. Louis’ Darst-Webbe housing project. He became a star safety at Mizzou and played five seasons in the NFL. Johnson sees Burden III as a pillar himself.

“One thing about Luther, you’re going to get a hell of a work ethic,” Johnson said. “I saw one other guy work out like him: Jimmy Giles, the tight end from Tampa Bay. In 7 of 7 drills, he’d run a 5- to 10-yard route and take it for a touchdown every time he touched the ball. He freaked me out, but his work ethic was amazing.”

Giles is in the Buccaneers’ Ring of Honor as a four-time Pro Bowler.

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Pulling out of the parking lot in that gray Impala, Burden III is barely noticeable. The car came as part of his name, image, and likeness deal from the used-car inventory of Mercedes-Benz of Columbia. As that family friend and advisor, Johnson insisted that the receiver’s transportation not be blinged out.

“They were willing to give him a very nice car, a Mercedes-Benz. I told him we were not going to do that,” Johnson said. “We want to keep him very, very nice and humble. That was a decision I made along with the dealership. It’s a reflection of who I am. … Make sure you don’t get overwhelmed. Be very patient.”

Burden III’s NIL valuation is 19th nationally among high school prospects at $76,000, according to On3’s rankings. His brand, LB3, already has a website featuring apparel. “LB3 is a movement where football meets fashion,” the website states.

That does not nearly make him a NIL exception. Logos and apparel are now an accepted (and allowed) part of the process. 

“Being a student-athlete playing college football, that’s like a job,” Burden III said about student-athlete compensation. “It’s a lot of work. You’ve got to be mentally prepared and physically prepared. It ain’t easy. It’s definitely like a job.”

Those words may burn the ears of NCAA executives in Indianapolis, but NIL is way down the line to becoming a part of the national college landscape. Burden Jr. says he can help “big time” with family expenses.

To the point, Burden III recently asked if his father was still going to work.

“He wanted to say, ‘Why?'” Burden Jr. said.

There we are again with that interrogative that defines Burden III’s Missouri decision.

In the short run, it’s not about NIL. Burden III surely would have gotten similar deals had he attended Georgia, Alabama, or Oklahoma.

In the long run, the best part of this recruiting process isn’t a car or the hype or the history Burden brings with him to this next chapter in mid-Missouri.

“It’s feeling the love from everybody,” he said.

College football position battles to watch going forward as 2022 spring practices conclude

These battles impact whether teams like Alabama, Notre Dame, and Texas will meet expectations in 2022

By Chip Patterson

Apr 14, 2022 at 1:15 am ET•7 min read

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We’re reaching the midway point of the 2022 college football spring practice sessions, and a huge weekend of spring games is on deck that will include Georgia, Alabama, Ohio State, and more concluding their offseason work with showcase scrimmages. Coaches love the competition of spring ball and the opportunity to see how players perform with coveted depth chart spots on the line. And while we know the “every job is open” message doesn’t apply to every position for every team, the position battles in spring can go a long way in determining who will fill keyholes for high-profile teams in 2022. 

Below we’ve identified some position battles to track heading into these final weeks of spring practice. Some very important battles — like the quarterback competition at Texas A& M and DJ Uiagalelei defending his starting job at Clemson — have already wrapped for the spring and will continue into the fall, but these are the ones that have will have our attention the rest of the way. 

Alabama: Wide receiver 

Georgia spring game 2022: April 16

Names to know: Ja’Corey Brooks, Jermaine Burton, JoJo Earle, Traeshon Holden

Jameson Williams and John Metchie III are off to the NFL, Javon Baker has transferred to Kentucky, and Agile Hall is in the transfer portal. That leaves just one player — Ja’Corey Brooks — who has a career start for the Crimson Tide and a handful of other talented options battling for the opportunity to catch passes from Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young. Burton brings SEC experience with his transfer from Georgia, and he may follow in the steps of Williams to transfer from a high-profile program and see his star rise even more in Tuscaloosa. But talented underclassmen JoJo Earle and Traeshon Holden bring speed and potential to the table that deserves attention in this battle. 

Texas: Quarterback 

Georgia spring game 2022: April 23

Names to know: Quinn Ewers, Hudson Card 

Last year, we were tracking the battle between Card and Casey Thompson, a competition that started in the spring and continued into Steve Sarkisian’s first season as the Longhorns’ head coach. Thompson has since transferred to Nebraska, but Card is far from the frontrunner for this job thanks to the arrival of former five-star prospect Quinn Ewers from Ohio State. The 6-foot-3, 206-pound Ewers is rated as the No. 1 high school recruit, according to the 247Sports Composite, and that blue-chip status has many fans handing him the honors of QB1 already. But Card has indicated he’s up for the challenge of going head-to-head against the touted new arrival, and his one year of experience in Sarkisian’s offense could prove to be valuable in the competition. Early scrimmage buzz suggests that experience might not be enough to beat out Ewers’ live arm and explosive passing ability, which has Longhorns fans buzzing heading into the spring game. 

Ohio State: Cornerback 

Georgia spring game 2022: April 16 

Names to know: Denzel Burke, Cameron Brown, Jakailin Johnson, Jordan Hancock

The Buckeye’s pass defense struggled last year, ranking No. 96 nationally and 12th out of 14 teams in the Big Ten. The inability to rush the passer and defend on the back end prompted Ryan Day to hire defensive coordinator Jim Knowles away from Oklahoma State, bringing a major focus to the Ohio State defense this spring. Burke played more snaps than anyone on the Buckeyes defense last year, so he figures to be in one spot, but there’s a real battle going on between Cameron Brown, Jakailin Johnson, and Jordan Hancock for time. The way Knowles would like to have the secondary set up, the safety and nickel positions are deep and likely spoken for, including a claim by former Oklahoma State star Tanner McCallister.

LSU: Quarterback 

Georgia spring game 2022: April 23 

Names to know: Myles Brennan, Jayden Daniels, Garrett Nussmeier 

The outlook for this competition took a sharp turn earlier this month when Daniels, the former Arizona State quarterback, announced LSU as his transfer destination. Daniels was a three-year starter for coach Herm Edwards and the Sun Devils, emerging as an instant-impact star in 2019 with 17 touchdowns and two interceptions before falling short of matching that high level of play throughout the following two seasons. Brennan figured to be the leader in this competition before that news, as he’s been a steady and reliable option when healthy. However, his injury history brings some concern that may have been a factor in Daniels’ arrival in Baton Rouge. The X-factor here is how new coach Brian Kelly and offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock want to run the offense, which in turn might be dependent on who wins this job.

USC: Wide receiver 

Georgia spring game 2022: April 23 

Names to know: Mario Williams, Brendan Rice, Terrell Bynum, Gary Bryant Jr., Tajh Washington, Kyle Ford 

Lincoln Riley’s collection of wide receiver talent suggests a season of airing it out is in store for Year 1 in Los Angeles. The Trojans lost leading receiver Drake London to the NFL Draft but saw a handful of rotation players return, yet Riley and his staff decided to hit this position hard in the transfer portal. Williams (Oklahoma), Rice (Colorado ), and Bynum (Washington) could all be top targets for star quarterback Caleb Williams, but they have to win those roles ahead of players who have been at USC before Riley’s arrival. Gary Bryant Jr. was the team’s leading receiver after London’s 2021 campaign was ended by injury, so he figures to be a part of the mix, but Washington, Ford, and the rest of the room are battling to secure a favorable position on the depth chart with all the transfer talent added to the mix. 

Oregon: Running back 

Georgia spring game 2022: April 23 

Names to know: Byron Cardwell, Sean Dollars, Steven McGee, Noah Whittington

Travis Dye and CJ Verdell were the one-two punch for Oregon over a long period, so now that Verdell is off to the NFL and Dye has transferred to USC, there’s a major hole at running back. Cardwell has the most production after rolling up 417 rushing yards and three touchdowns during his freshman season, but he’s getting pushed by Sean Dollars, a fourth-year player who is garnering rave reviews from the coaching staff after finally getting back to full health after injury. First-year coach Dan Lanning and offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham hit the transfer portal to solidify some depth here with Noah Whittington from Western Kentucky and the group will get a boost in terms of depth and talent when freshman Jordan James, a high four-star prospect the Ducks flipped from Georgia, arrives this summer. 

Notre Dame: Quarterback

Georgia spring game 2022: April 23

Names to know: Drew Pyne, Tyler Buchner 

It’s assumed there won’t be an official announcement here until mid-August, but that doesn’t change the intrigue about what happens when both quarterbacks hit the field for the spring game. Both players saw the field in 2021 either along with or in place of Jack Coan. But while Pyne played in fewer games than Buchner — who was used in a specialized package that took advantage of his ability as a runner — the junior did lead an impressive comeback against Wisconsin in one of the biggest wins of the season. Buchner was a highly-rated prospect coming out of high school and figures to be the favorite in the battle, but he’ll have to limit turnovers and show a full body of work this spring and in fall camp to get the tap for QB1 in Week 1. 

Miami: Wide receiver

Georgia spring game 2022: April 16

Names to know Xavier Restrepo, Key’Shawn Smith, Brashard Smith, Jacolby George, Romello Brinson, Frank Ladson Jr. 

Much of the excitement around Miami’s offense in 2022 starts with reigning ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year Tyler Van Dyke at quarterback and 2022 Broyles Award winner Josh Gattis as offensive coordinator. But with Charleston Rambo, Mike Harley Jr., and a handful of other veterans gone from last year’s squad, a key piece of business this spring is sorting out the wide receiver room under new leadership at head coach and coordinator. Restrepo, who played from the slot last year, is the leading returning receiver, but Gattis has shown in previous stops the tendency to spread the ball around and utilize different skill sets. There’s a lot of speed and potential with this group but not much-proven production, making it a key to Miami’s hopes of contending for an ACC title. 

Washington: Quarterback

Georgia spring game 2022: April 30

Names to know Dylan Morris, Sam Huard, Michael Penix Jr.

In the first season, Michael Penix was the starter at Indiana, and new Washington head coach Kalen DeBoer was the Hoosiers’ offensive coordinator. That, plus Penix saying that he’s finally fully healthy, seems to give the transfer quarterback an edge, but the battle rages on with fourth-year sophomore Dylan Morris and former five-star prospect Sam Huard very much in the mix. Considering Penix’s injury history, the Huskies need to start the year with depth at the position, and that makes the battle for QB2 just as interesting as QB1 should DeBoer name the Indiana transfer as the starter for Week 1. 

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