Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Loss Aside, Georgia Feels like It's Just Getting Started

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Loss Aside, Georgia Feels like It's Just Getting Started

Article excerpt

Byline: Marc Weiszer Athens BannerHerald

ATLANTA | It took Georgia 35 years to get into the position it was in Monday night - one win away from the national championship.

After the Bulldogs relinquished a 13point third quarter lead, a season they will long remember ended in jarring fashion-on a walkoff 41yard Alabama touchdown pass in overtime - but players said it won't be long this time before the program gets another shot.

"We've definitely got what it takes to come back," wide receiver Mecole Hardman said. "We've set the standard. Guys that are going to come in here are going to feel the standard. The work we put in - the workouts, the running and all that. That's what we're trying to instill in these young guys to feed into that's what got us here."

Georgia will lose some important pieces from a 132 team that was floored by the 2623 loss to Alabama in the national title game but those players will leave with memories of winning the SEC for the first time since 2005, making the program's debut in the College Football Playoff and beating Oklahoma in double overtime in the Rose Bowl.

"We were significant this year," senior outside linebacker Davin Bellamy said. "I feel like people, they'll remember this Georgia team."

Hardman, quarterback Jake Fromm, tailback D'Andre Swift, defensive tackle Tyler Clark, outside linebacker D'Andre Walker, safety J.R. Reed and kicker Rodrigo Blankenship are among players to build around.

The nation's topranked recruiting class - with six fivestar signees - on top of a top three class from the previous year should keep Georgia in contention for championships.

"I think everybody can see that Georgia's going to be a force to be reckoned with," coach Kirby Smart said after his second season ended. "I'm very proud of this team and this university, and we're not going anywhere."

Georgia is losing the program's second and third leading rushers in program history in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel and left tackle Isaiah Wynn, as well as at least six defensive starters including outside linebackers Lorenzo Carter and Bellamy. Star linebacker Roquan Smith would appear to be a likely early NFL draft entry. …

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