Clemson cornerback Derion Kendrick (1) during the first half of the Atlantic Coast Conference championship NCAA college football game against Notre Dame, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)
- Georgia’s National Championship case got stronger on Tuesday with the additions of cornerback Derion Kendrick and tight end Arik Gilbert
- Kendrick earned 1st and 2nd Team All-ACC honors during his time at Clemson, while Gilbert is considered one of the most promising young skill position players in the SEC
- Read below for analysis on whether or not the Bulldogs are worth backing to win it all at +700
Georgia hasn’t won a National Championship since 1980, but with the moves they’ve made over the offseason, this might be the year the Bulldogs end their drought.
Kirby Smart’s program already boasted one of the most talented rosters in the nation, and on Tuesday they added a pair of former 5-star recruits in Derion Kendrick and Arik Gilbert.
College Football National Championship Odds
|Team||Odds at DraftKings|
|Alabama Crimson Tide||+225|
|Ohio State Buckeyes||+400|
Odds as of June 1st.
Even before the moves, Georgia was a top-four contender in the National Championship odds, but the recent transfers have shortened the gap between themselves and Ohio State, who own the third shortest price tag.
The Bulldogs are massive favorites to win the SEC East this season, and Kendrick’s addition helps plug one of the few holes they had.
Kendrick Gives Secondary Credibility
The 6-foot, 190 pound senior spent the previous three seasons with Clemson, and has 24 career starts and College Football Playoff experience on his resume. He racked up 61 tackles, 12 pass breakups and 3 interceptions during his sophomore and junior seasons, earning 1st and 2nd All-ACC team honors along the way.
Former Clemson CB Derion Kendrick is transferring to Georgia, per @Mansell247
His first game will be against Clemson in WK1 ☠️ pic.twitter.com/EAy2sbLoD4
— PFF College (@PFF_College) June 1, 2021
He was Pro Football Focus’ number one transfer of 2021 and allowed 15 yards or fewer in 18 of his 24 starts with the Tigers. Georgia had zero starting experience at corner coming out of spring practice, after losing its top three players at that position from a year ago to the NFL.
Kendrick is the third addition to the Bulldogs’ secondary via transfer this offseason, but he does come with some baggage. He was benched twice last season before being dismissed from Clemson in March. Shortly afterwards, he was arrested for unlawfully carrying a handgun. Despite his rocky past, Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney vouched for Kendrick, saying he just needs a change of scenery.
Georgia’s defense ranked second in the SEC in points allowed last season, and with six starters scheduled to return, this unit will once again be among the top in the country.
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Gilbert Joins Stacked Offense
Gilbert meanwhile, is the first offensive transfer Georgia has landed this offseason, and is considered one of the most talented young playmakers in the SEC. He recorded 368 receiving yards and 2 TD in his freshman season at LSU, and was a highly sought after commodity.
𝗕𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗸𝗶𝗻𝗴: Arik Gilbert has announced he is transferring to Georgia, per @Mansell247
#2 ranked tight end returning to school in 2021 pic.twitter.com/nPKTFafk7v
— PFF College (@PFF_College) June 1, 2021
He originally committed to Florida in January, but opted out a month later. Alabama, Georgia Tech and Clemson were all trying to land the 6-foot-5, 250 pounder, but ultimately the Bulldogs won out. He’s considered an athletic freak, and with Georgia already boasting three quality tight ends on its roster, Gilbert is expected to spend most of his snaps lined up out wide or in the slot.
The Bulldogs are returning nine offensive starters, including all of their skill position players, but there’s a pass catching spot to fill after star receiver George Pickens tore his ACL in spring practice. Pickens’ status for September is uncertain, meaning Gilbert could become one of JT Daniels’ go-to targets.
The NCAA recently amended its transfer policy where it allows immediate eligibility for first-time transfers. However, the SEC is still deciding whether to change its rule that requires players transferring within the conference to sit out a year. The expectation is the rule will be amended on June 3rd, meaning both Kendrick and Gilbert won’t have any eligibility concerns.
The Bulldogs’ Future is Bright
The question now becomes is Georgia worth backing to win it all? They haven’t made the College Football Playoff since they lost in the Championship game to Bama in 2018, but this could be one of their most talented rosters ever.
They’ve gone above and beyond to address their secondary concerns, and the offense, even without Pickens should take a major step forward. Daniels is a top-four Heisman Trophy candidate, and if he elevates his game the way experts project, the Bulldogs offense will be on par with their defense, which promises to be elite.
At +700, Georgia definitely offers more value than its SEC rival Alabama, and is worth backing. We’ll find out right away just how good they are as they open the season versus Clemson, in a clash of a pair of preseason top-five programs.
Chris began his career at Hockey Night in Canada over 15 years ago. He has since worked at TSN for over 12 years as a writer, line-up producer, field producer, newsroom supervisor for Sportscentre, and presently as a promotions producer.