ATLANTA — It was finally the champs' turn to take the stage at 2022 SEC Media Days, hosted at the College Football Hall of Fame in downtown Atlanta.
But the headline for the Georgia Bulldogs is really no headline at all – just how the Dawgs drew it up.
Sure, Kirby Smart fielded the expected questions about the transfer portal and Name Image and Likeness, but otherwise, it’s business as usual for Georgia.
There’s no denying that the Dawgs are now at the center of the college football universe, entering the 2022 season as the defending national champs. But when it comes to this fall, Coach Smart did not mince words during Wednesday’s media session.
“People have asked the question, ‘how does it feel to be hunted?’ We will not be hunted at the University of Georgia,” Smart said. “The hunting that we do will be done going the other direction.”
Sophomore offensive lineman Sedrick Van Pran, senior linebacker Nolan Smith, and the mailman himself, Stetson Bennett, were all on hand Wednesday in Atlanta.
When the Dawgs open that title defense against Oregon down the street on September 3rd at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, they'll be without 14 starters from last year's title team, including eight on defense. And while Coach Smart admitted his group’s overall lack of experience one word became a theme Wednesday: hunger.
It’s a type of hunger that begins with a guy just like Nolan Smith.
“A lot of guys want to prove that they can replace the other guy,” Smart said. “And they don't want to be the other guy. They want to be the next guy. The hunger comes from the opportunity that the talented players behind them have.”
“I see a bunch of young guys that fly around and just excited to learn football,” Smith said. “The past is your ego. We can't control last year. We can only look forward and be where our feet exactly are now.”
It’s hard to fathom at this time last year, Stetson Bennett wasn't even starting under center at Georgia, let alone leading his team to a national title. No, he doesn't have his flip phone anymore, but Coach Smart was quick to still call his quarterback “one of the least respected good players in the country.”
One national title, later, nothing changes for Georgia’s QB1.
“I’m excited about actually playing football, instead of last year when I wasn't at this time,” Bennett said. “I care more about being good than people thinking that I'm good. Am I competitive? Do I want to be the best in the country? Yeah, but not because people say I’m not.”
For a new-look group of Dawgs, the goal remains much the same.