Georgia's projected starting quarterback Jamie Newman is opting out of the 2020 season. The Wake Forest graduate transfer made the announcement on Wednesday after multiple media reports. Newman enrolled at Georgia in January after throwing for 2,868 yards and 26 touchdowns for the Demon Deacons last season.
"With much prayer and discussion with my family I would like to announce that due to the uncertainties of this year amid a global pandemic, I will officially opt-out of this football season to prepare for the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft," Newman said in a statement.
"I would like to thank coach Smart for extending the opportunity for me to be a part of the University of Georgia football program. Although my time has been short, I've build some great relationships and I've had a chance to continue my development."
"One of the guiding principles of both the SEC and UGA return-to-play protocols has been the health and safety of our student-athletes," Georgia coach Kirby Smart said in a statement, "We have emphasized continually that any student-athlete who decides to opt-out because of health and/or safety concerns related to COVID-19 would be fully supported to include honoring scholarships, access to academic facilities, etc., and would remain in good standing with the team. While we will miss him being part of our program, I fully support Jamie's decision and we will continue to regard him as a Georgia Bulldog. Certainly we wish him nothing but the best in his quest for an NFL career and he knows he will always have a home at UGA."
Newman's decision to opt out could pave the way for USC transfer J.T. Daniels to assume the starting job if he is medically cleared by the Bulldogs' season opener at Arkansas on Sept. 26. Daniels received a waiver for immediate eligibility when he transferred from USC this offseason.
Daniels was poised to become a star as a sophomore at USC last season before he suffered a season-ending knee injury vs. Fresno State in the season opener. That injury has limited him in preseason camp thus far. But the Bulldogs still have over three weeks to prepare for their opener.
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With 247Sports reporting that Newman plans to train for the 2021 NFL Draft, he will be exiting the program's quarterback picture entirely at a time when the program has limited depth at the position. Daniels could still have up to four seasons to play. He is considered a redshirt sophomore this season, and with the NCAA requiring that all players retain a year of eligibility -- regardless of whether or not they play this fall -- Daniels could theoretically play college football through the 2023 season. He was ranked the No. 18 overall prospect in the class of 2018 by the 247Sports Composite ranking and threw for 2,672 yards as a true freshman in 2018.
But as with any player returning from a torn ACL, there are questions about Daniels' health. If he is not cleared for the season opener, the Bulldogs would likely turn to junior quarterback Stetson Bennett. The former walk-on appeared in four games last season as the backup to Jake Fromm, who was taken in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills following his junior season.
Georgia also has freshmen D'Wan Mathis and Carson Beck on the roster as scholarship quarterbacks. The Bulldogs also have a commitment from five-star quarterback Brock Vandergriff, who is considered the No. 3 overall quarterback in the 2021 recruiting class, according to the 247Sports Composite.