The Georgia Bulldogs are in New Orleans to play in the Sugar Bowl for the second straight season, and similar to last year they are down several starters headed into Wednesday's matchup with the Baylor Bears.
Headed into today's media availability there were five key players that we knew were not going to be available for the matchup: Andrew Thomas, Isaiah Wilson, Ben Cleveland, Brian Herrien, and Tyler Clark.
After today's practice, we can now increase that number total to six, as J.R. Reed will not be playing in the bowl game. Which comes as a bit of a shock to most especially considering at the Home Depot College Football Awards ceremony when asked if he was partaking in the Sugar Bowl, Reed responded, "If the Dawgs are playing, I'm playing."
Turns out, Reed suffered a minor foot injury and is physically unable to play.
The idea of college players sitting out bowl games is nothing new. After Jaylon Smith's horrendous knee injury in the Fiesta Bowl, more and more high profiled players have elected to forego their final collegiate game prior to entering the draft.
However, it's no longer just the guaranteed first-rounders that are sitting out bowl games, it's becoming an increasing trend that even players like Isaiah Wilson - who might be a 3rd or 4th round selection - are sitting out.
There have been rumors swirling about the reasoning behind some of the guys sitting out. We know Ben Cleveland's absence is academic-related. As for the others like Clark, Herrien, and Reed, the only common and verified link is that all three are out of eligibility following Wednesday's contest.
One thing is certain, Kirby Smart hasn't shied away from the opportunity to play his younger guys. He's been adamant about the competitive environment surrounding the practices leading up to the Sugar Bowl.
Smart also did a fantastic job this season of utilizing the relatively new 4-game redshirt rule, allowing players to play in at least four games while retaining the option to redshirt. So, players like Clay Webb will be allowed to get extensive run in the final game of the season while maintaining his redshirt.
Fellow offensive linemen Warren Mclendon and Xavier Truss are in the same scenario.
D’Andre Swift was a full participant in today’s practice. Though it was merely a conditioning circuit session that the media was allowed to watch.
Solomon Kindley and Jake Fromm were full participants today as well.
Divaad Wilson was not seen during today’s practice availability.