Georgia's 2017 football team took its devoted fans on a long and exciting ride.
The Bulldogs played the maximum number of games possible, 15, and came up short of the national championship against Alabama by just one play. While the 26-23 overtime defeat in Atlanta will sting for a while, there were plenty of unforgettable moments along the way.
Even so, there isn't much time for this coaching staff to dwell on the defeat.
Now that the game is history, there is a lot to work on in the coming months, which will have a significant bearing on the start of the 2018 season. With Georgia exceeding expectations in head coach Kirby Smart's second season, he will look to guide his team to another College Football Playoff appearance in year three.
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But until the games begin again, here is what's on deck for this football team.
Georgia will lose a slew of senior contributors to the NFL. On offense, Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, Isaiah Wynn, Javon Wims, Jeb Blazevich and Christian Payne have all exhausted their eligibility. On defense, John Atkins, Lorenzo Carter, Davin Bellamy, Malkom Parrish and Dominick Sanders will all be gone.
There are a handful of juniors who have a decision to make too. The biggest name of the bunch is junior Roquan Smith, who many draft analysts project as a first-rounder. Other than Smith, juniors Deandre Baker, Trenton Thompson and Terry Godwin are mulling their football futures too.
Defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter and safety J.R. Reed have previously announced that they will be coming back. The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL draft is Monday.
After a little downtime, Georgia will begin winter strength and conditioning workouts. Last year, this was already taking place, since the final game of the year was the Liberty Bowl. This year, with the season lasting as long as it did, the Bulldogs will get a later start.
Georgia's early enrollees will be able to participate in these strength and conditioning workouts. Thus far, Georgia has had nine players enroll early in the 2018 recruiting class: quarterback Justin Fields, running back Zamir White, offensive tackle Cade Mays, outside linebacker Brenton Cox, offensive guard Trey Hill, receiver Kearis Jackson, offensive lineman Warren Ericson, defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt, and cornerback Divaad Wilson.
Second signing day
Georgia's No. 1 -ranked recruiting class features 20 players who have signed their letters of intent. Nine of those, the players mentioned above, have already enrolled. With that in mind, it will make for a less chaotic National Signing Day on Wednesday, Feb, 7.
Georgia holds verbal commitments from defensive tackle Jordan Davis, defensive tackle Tramel Walthour and safety Rachad Wildgoose. Due to impending NFL decisions and transfers, it is unknown at the present time how many more players the Bulldogs will be able to sign. At the moment, there are 19 open scholarships, with defensive back Rashad Roundtree announcing his retirement from football Wednesday night. If Jacob Eason does in fact transfer to Washington — or anywhere else for that matter — the Bulldogs would have 20 open spots.
Spring practice and G-Day
It appears spring practice will begin the week of March 19. That's five weeks before the annual G-Day spring game, which, according to the team's website, is scheduled for Saturday, April 21.
This is when the full on-field coaching staff will be able to work with the players in a practice setting for the first time since the season ended. There are a maximum 15 allowed practices, which includes the spring game.
After the spring, Georgia will take some time off to recover before reconvening for summer workouts and voluntary seven-on-seven work. Last year, quarterback Jake Fromm was among those organizing the seven-on-seven drills, which is when teammates truly began to notice his ability to lead an offense.
While the start of Georgia's preseason won't have an official date anytime soon, it's likely to begin toward the end of July. From here, the Bulldogs will begin preparations on the 2018 season with no more than 29 preseason practices.
Georgia will begin its 125th season of college football on Sept. 1 against Austin Peay.