Kirby Smart and Georgia will Face Massive Challenges in 2020

Ryan Phillips
Kirby Smart coaches Georgia at the Sugar Bowl
Kirby Smart coaches Georgia at the Sugar Bowl / Marianna Massey/Getty Images

Kirby Smart and the Georgia Bulldogs got a serious reality check on Wednesday, as junior quarterback Jake Fromm declared for the 2020 NFL Draft. With Fromm and a number of other key players departing, Georgia could face a difficult road in 2020.

After Justin Fields bolted to Ohio State last offseason, Georgia was left without any real depth behind Fromm. As of now, Stetson Bennett is the incumbent, but he's former walk-on who backed up Fromm by default. Freshman D'Wan Mathis was a top 150 recruit in 2019, but he is recovering from surgery to remove a cyst on his brain. Carson Beck is a four-star recruit signed to the 2020 class, but starting a true freshman in the SEC is usually a recipe for disaster. There is no clear succession path after Fromm's departure.

Smart may have to mine the transfer portal for his next starting quarterback. The biggest names available are former Wake Forest starter Jamie Newman and former Stanford starter K.J. Costello. Newman is a dual-threat who did good things at Wake but clearly wants to showcase his talents elsewhere during his final year of eligibility. Costello is a former top 50 recruit and a pro-style pocket guy who never appeared comfortable in Stanford's offense.

Georgia is also set to lose star running back D'Andre Swift and offensive tackles Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson to the NFL. Meanwhile, sophomore tackle Cade Mays has entered the transfer portal and the team is set to lose several other senior starters and contributors.

Smart and his staff have recruited incredibly well over the past few years, so no one should be worried about a lack of talent on Georgia's roster. But several key spots will have new starters next season.

LSU and Alabama look like they'll remain dominant in 2020, while Florida appears to be on the rise in the SEC East. All three of those teams are threat to the run Smart has going at Georgia right now.

In four season in Athens, Smart has a 44-12 record and a 25-7 mark in the SEC. He has won three-straight SEC East titles, and won the SEC Championship Game in 2017. He reached the College Football Playoff National Championship Game that season, but failed to win it.

Smart has been doing a great job, but 2020 might be his toughest test yet.