Jim Donnan dives deep in 2018 recruiting, 2017 season

Paul Maharry, Staff
GA Varsity

The UGASports LIVE podcast had Jim Donnan on the show recently and some of his answers were just too good to not post to the site. Here are some of the best answers from the former Georgia head coach.

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Radi Nabulsi: Who do you prefer more between five-star quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields?

Jim Donnan: "The one thing that is important about evaluating quarterbacks is you have to see how a guy fits into your team and also what he can bring to the table. With Lawrence, you’ve heard about him a lot more because of the state championships at Cartersville. But, Fields is the athlete that everybody would like to have at quarterback. I’m not going to get into who is the best, but either one could be a program changer just from the standpoint of their ability to build up kids around them. Justin did that on the big stage at The Opening just exemplifies his ability to take over and especially in that time of atmosphere. I can’t tell you how important it is for everyone to understand that The Opening is really a pressurized deal. Yeah, you aren’t playing 11-on-11, but you’ve got everybody that means anything in the country looking at you and he performed at an optimum level. I was just elated that he opened up the recruiting back because if you’re a quarterback and live in this state and you can come here to Athens and do anything on a level that you need to, you’re set for life."

Nabulsi: Do you have a preference between a dual-threat or pro-style quarterback?

Donnan: "You have to have a system that you believe in, I’ve coached the wishbone, pro-style, I’ve coached a lot of different things, but the game of football today is who can come off the edge and put pressure on the quarterback, who can cover with their defensive backs and who can catch and throw the ball. At the same time, your running game has to be good enough to where they can’t stack against you. Anytime you have a guy that can move around and miss guys rushing him and hit his second read, it helps. If you add the element that Justin has and that God has graced him with, the ability to run, throw and think like that, not many have the competency to do that, and if you watch his baseball skills, it shows, too. If you add all that together, you have a chance to do a lot of different things."

Nabulsi: What are your thoughts on Jake Fromm and Jacon Eason?

Donnan: "Georgia put a huge investment into Eason last year and for him to be beaten out would have to take a pretty big jump just because of Eason’s experience last year. It will have to be a situation where Eason has to improve because Fromm is right there behind him. Things have to get better because of last season’s low production, it was one of the lowest offensive production teams we’ve seen around here in a while, and it starts with offensive line, getting bigger and stronger, our passing game will get a lot more effective. I heard today that we were like 8-49 on passes over twenty yards this year. I don’t know if that is true, but it’s not very good if it is. I think we are going to make a lot more first downs, get the ball to [Isaac] Nauta, and get the ball to Nick [Chubb] and Sony [Michel]."

Jake Reuse: What do you think about the offensive line? It seems like Georgia has not been able to produce guys up there for around 10 years?

Donnan: "When was the last time that a defensive linemen or offensive linemen got drafted in the first round coming out of Georgia? David Pollack. If you are going to win in this league you better have some big ‘ole chollardos up there doing their job and that has been a nemesis for Georgia. I just think the offensive line from a size perspective has gotten bigger, I really like Sam Pittman, I think he is a good developer of talent."

Reuse: How big is the learning curve for a true freshman offensive lineman?

Donnan: "It’s a little bigger for an offensive linemen, then maybe say a defensive back or running back, because of the different types of looks you see and having to understand who to block."

Reuse: Do you think it would be more beneficial for Georgia to redshirt Jake Fromm, seeing how Brice Ramsey is coming back this year?

Donnan: "I don’t really worry about redshirting anybody anymore. I think you’ve got to do what gives you the best chance to win. We don’t know if Eason will develop like we all think he will or is someone will get hurt. This is a big year for us, we’ve got to get over the hump a little bit. I think unless he’s just not ready to play, you don’t redshirt him."

Jake: Are there some guys in the Class of 2017 that you think can make an impact this year for Georgia?

Donnan: "I think [Deangelo] Gibbs and {Richard] LeCounte and [Tray] Bishop, heck I would like to see Bishop run some wildcat, I like watching him. I really like those guys in the secondary. I’m hoping Jeremiah Holloman is going to continue to develop, and I have yet to see David Webb in person, yet. I think D'Andre Swift has a lot of ability, there is no question about that. Then, of course, the offensive linemen, all of those guys have a shot just because of the depth issue there. One thing that can help those true freshmen offensive linemen is that they will get to go up against some good defensive players. It’s going to be self-survival out there, once you line up against Trent Thompson, you’re going to see if a guy wants to stay on campus or not."

Nabulsi: Who are three guys that you think are true difference makers in the Class of 2018 that could help Georgia?

Donnan: "Fields, Fields, and Fields. I think Zamir White is special. I sure hope that we get [Jamaree] Salyer."

Reuse: Would you have been in favor of the early signing period that was just put in place by the NCAA?

Donnan: "I don’t know that much about it. If a guy is ready to go, as far as the signing part, then it is good. As far as the pressure that it puts on you in the summer recruiting, official visits during the season more now, and you are still trying to coach your team, that puts an enormous amount of pressure on you to get somebody."

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