Like Willy Wonka’s Augustus Gloop, every college football coach in the country would love to have their cake and eat it too.
In today’s transfer portal era, it’s natural for coaches to be greedy when it comes to roster management: Maintain your team’s deep while also raiding others.
Most don’t have that luxury, though.
On Wednesday night, multiple reports surfaced that Georgia quarterback Brock Vandagriff is expected to stay in Athens and not seek a transfer in 2023. The former 5-star recruit had a strong spring for the Bulldogs, but after last Saturday’s G-Day, it was evident to most that Carson Beck remained the frontrunner to lead the two-time national championships this fall.
Vandagriff told reporters after the spring game that he hadn’t given the idea of a transfer much thought yet, while also opening the door to that possibility by adding, “I guess there’s some praying to do. But my plans, for now, are to just take it day by day.”
Well a decision didn’t take long.
Thanks to an SEC rule barring an intraconference transfer after Feb. 1, Vandagriff’s options would be limited to playing outside the league should he have decided to transfer. He can’t go to QB desperate teams like Florida or Auburn, which coincidentally happen to be two of Georgia’s top rivals.
Somewhere, Kirby Smart is flashing that devilish grin. He won again.
There’s no need to sugarcoat this news: Vandagriff’s decision to return to the program is a major boon for the Bulldogs in 2023.
For one, Georgia now enters the rest of the offseason with three capable scholarship quarterbacks and it doesn’t need to dip into the portal for more depth post-spring.
But more importantly, the continued continuity in UGA’s QB room allows Kirby Smart to keep pushing competition all summer and into fall camp.
“What you saw (on G-Day) is similar to what we’ve seen all spring: that we have three good quarterbacks who can make the throws and do a really good job,” Kirby Smart said Saturday.
And he’s right.
It’s also a luxury almost every other program in the country does not have: Multiple quarterbacks with starter’s potential who have been developed in the same system for multiple years.
Carson Beck has been in Georgia’s program for four years. He’s the lone blue-chip quarterback recruit in the country from the 2017-2020 classes who has never started a game or hasn’t transferred.
That sort of commitment to development is unheard of in this era of college football. Quarterbacks don’t typically play the “long game.”
“I’m not even the same player compared to my first year. Athletically, physically, mentally, even just as a human being, just the person that I am now compared to who I was then,” Carson Beck said recently.
“I really attribute that to our coaches and to our staff, people that are here at the University of Georgia. I can’t thank them enough for what they’ve done and what they’ve instilled in me in all aspects.”
Vandagriff, who is now in his third year in the program, is seemingly making the same decision by staying.
“If I wasn’t getting reps and I wasn’t getting better then yeah, I would have left,” the former Prince Academy star said earlier this spring.
“But being able to know that my game is getting better mentally and physically, and I’m learning so much about the game of football and I’m going against one of the best defenses, one of the most fast-paced defenses in the SEC and the nation, I was becoming a better player for that. So that was some of the main reasons. I was being a better player for it.”
Per everyone in Athens, Brock Vandagriff showed real improvement over the last five weeks. The Athens native was reportedly better than Beck in a scrimmage or two. While Beck emerged as the likely QB1 by the end of spring practice, there’s no room for complacency now.
Brock Vandagriff is very capable of swiping Beck’s grasp on the job at any time this fall. Considering Georgia’s cupcake schedule, Smart doesn’t even need to pay lip service to the idea of multiple quarterbacks seeing playing time, either. It’s going to happen organically with UGA involved in so many blowouts.
Again, this sort of continuity and loyalty is extremely unusual these days. It speaks highly of Georgia’s culture and yet another marker of how Smart’s program exists in a different stratosphere.
While other programs are looking for a quality arm in the portal, Georgia enters the summer with three veteran bodies hungry to continue to compete and develop. The heat is on.
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