One of the most important traits of a national championship level team is having a few players rise to the occasion and break out onto the national scene in a major way.
Consider the last two national championship teams. LSU and Alabama had multiple superstars emerge in those seasons, elevating their teams to a title in the process. Heisman Trophy winners Joe Burrow and DeVonta Smith weren't in the national conversation for the award leading up to the season.
Georgia is in the hunt for its first national title since 1980 and following are a few players that should come make an impression and who haven't done a lot ion the past.
Arian Smith, WR
Smith showed signs of electricity a year ago. He didn't dress with the team until the Florida game, and it wasn't until the South Carolina matchup that Smith caught his first career pass. That was a 31-yard touchdown in which he completely blew by the Gamecocks defender.
Offensive coordinator Todd Monken's offense is predicated on having a deep-ball burner like Smith. Monken's best offensive year in the NFL was 2018 when DeSean Jackson was healthy and with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Jackson averaged 18.9 yards per reception that year, a career high. Smith can do exactly that for Georgia this season.
Latavious Brini, S
Brini will likely start at STAR this year and could be the X-Factor in the back line of the defense. He played in 10 games this past season and earned his first career start against Cincinnati, where he made a few key plays in order to secure the Peach Bowl victory for the Bulldogs.
Georgia has a depleted secondary this year with just one starter returning. They need Brini to produce, and quickly. He is very physical and impacts games in both the run and pass. While his tape is limited to this point, he has put together enough to make Georgia fans think he can be a stop-gap between STARs.
Lewis Cine fills the Richard LeCounte role, running alleys and being the play-making safety in the defense. Chris Smith gained valuable experience in 2020 because of LeCounte's injury. Though it's Brini that needs to make plays consistently this year and play technically sound, coaches don't need him to be outstanding, but they need him to do his job well in order to make noise come December.
Travon Walker, DL
This year will all about consistency for Walker. Consistency in the level of his play and also the amount of snaps he gets. History has shown that Walker improves the more snaps he gets, which makes sense. Many were forecasting this past season would be his breakout year, but with Malik Herring still on the roster, Walker struggled to gain significant playing time.
Walker was selected to the freshman All-SEC team two years ago and still has tremendous upside. This will be his first year in a starting role and he could prove to be one of the best edge defenders in the SEC if he adds a secondary pass-rush move to his long-arm.
Quay Walker, LB
Only one season ago, Georgia had arguably the most prolific linebacker tandem in the country. Paired together, Monty Rice and Nakobe Dean were nearly unstoppable.
Rice is now headed to the NFL and Dean will fill the top linebacker spot. That leaves Walker to fill the now vacated No. 2 linebacker position. He is a freak of nature athletically and will blow up plays sometimes purely from his intangibles.
He does have to fix some core things, like consistently making the proper reads. However, he has one of the best linebacker coaches in the country in Glenn Schumann to continue to develop him.