Trenton Thompson was back in Athens again on Monday. The rising junior has withdrawn from classes for the semester, but has been around enough for most to think that he will certainly enroll back with the University in the summer and play this fall. In fact, there's not much debate about that.
Thompson was also in Athens in early March to have his shoulder checked out. The Albany native has had a difficult off-season transition. First, he dealt with a shoulder injury that required surgery. Then police and emergency response personnel were called to attend to Thompson, who UGA says was dealing with “adverse reaction to medications prescribed specifically for his medical condition”. Also, Thompson’s favorite coach, Tracy Rocker, was fired from the program after Signing Day.
The result of the surgery is that Thompson has lost a substantial amount of weight in the off-season because he is no longer able to work out. Thompson was very likely headed to the NFL after this fall, but now that plan is likely being reconsidered due to the last few months’ difficulty the defensive lineman has faced.
But Thompson arriving back at UGA on Monday is a good sign for those hoping he will be back in Athens this fall.
Again, Brice Ramsey has not been participating in any organized football activity at UGA since the team returned from the Liberty Bowl. He is still enrolled in classes at UGA, but the likelihood that he will play for Georgia in the fall is very, very low. Several schools have inquired about him transferring and playing his final year of eligibility with them.
I anticipate that UGA will be at 85 scholarships - they are currently at 87 - by the time spring practice starts on March 21, which is next Tuesday. That accounts for the 26 players Kirby Smart and company signed this February as well as 59 other scholarship players returning from last year's team.
Speaking of quarterbacks - I had a very quick conversation with a high-ranking UGA official about Jacob Eason and Jake Fromm and the dynamics that go along with QBs in the SEC. To be sure, there will be a “competition” for the starting QB spot, but it likely in name only.
Only once in the last few decades has a sitting starting quarterback been replaced at UGA, and that was when Eason displaced Greyson Lambert after the first game of the season last year. Lambert, who had 54 yards passing in the North Carolina game, only played in two other games - Nicholls and ULL - and gained only two yards passing the rest of the season after he was passed by Eason.
The point? Lambert was ripe for the picking to be passed by Eason. The same won’t be the case for Fromm to pass Eason. When having this discussion with that person, they summed it up like this:
“I read these things on message boards about Fromm passing Eason,” they said rolling their eyes. “I mean, is that something you just say when someone comes in that’s new?”
And trust me when I tell you that person doesn’t think either of these players is a slouch, but that the hill Fromm has to climb to get to where Eason is now is going to be so difficult for a true freshman - and passing him will be even more difficult.
Keep in mind, too, just how much quarterbacks typically improve from their freshman seasons to their sophomore years. David Greene took UGA from 8-4 to 13-1; Matthew Stafford from 9-4 to 11-2; Aaron Murray from 6-7 to 10-4. Big second-year progressions have been the norm at UGA over the last 17 years.
The pressure will be on for Eason to be a more dependable football player in the fall - that much is certain. But he’s now had a year of development under his belt and will be taking the reps with the No. 1 unit most of the year. We couldn’t say that last spring, or even all of last fall.