Georgia QB Newman opting out of season to prepare for draft

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Jamie Newman, the Wake Forest transfer who was projected to start at quarterback for No. 4 Georgia, is opting out of the season to prepare for the 2021 NFL draft.

Newman announced his decision on his Twitter account Wednesday. He said he decided to skip the season “after much prayer and discussion with my family.”

Newman said his decision was influenced by “the uncertainties of this year amid a global pandemic.”

The decision leaves Georgia’s quarterback race wide open.

Coach Kirby Smart said Newman would “remain in good standing with the team.” He said Georgia and the Southeastern Conference have made the health and safety of student-athletes the priority during the coronavirus pandemic.

“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,” Smart said in a statement released by Georgia. He said that includes honoring Newman’s scholarship and giving him access to the team’s facilities.

“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,” Smart said. “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.”

After the Bulldogs’ first scrimmage on Saturday, Smart said another transfer, former Southern Cal starter, JT Daniels, has not received full medical clearance in his return from a knee injury that ended his 2019 season.

Daniels was granted his immediate eligibility following his transfer to Georgia. He is participating in practice but has not been cleared for contact, leaving his status uncertain for the Bulldogs’ opening game at Arkansas on Sept. 26.

Former walk-on Stetson Bennett, who was Jake Fromm’s top backup last season, freshman Carson Beck and D’Wan Mathis also are competing for the starting job.

Smart distributed snaps with the first-team among the quarterbacks in the scrimmage. He said no quarterback had emerged as the starter.

Daniels started for USC as a freshman, passing for 2,672 yards with 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He then hurt his knee in the Trojans’ 2019 opener against Fresno State.

Mathis was redshirted in 2019 as he recovered from surgery to remove a brain cyst.

Newman announced in January he would transfer to Georgia for his final year of eligibility.

Playing for a Wake Forest team that finished 8-5, Newman completed 60.9% of his passes for 2,868 yards, with 26 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 2019, his first full season as a starter. He also rushed for 574 yards and six touchdowns.

In his statement, Newman thanked Smart “for extending the offer for me to be a part of the University of Georgia football program. Although my time has been short I’ve built some great relationships and I’ve had a chance to continue my development.”

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