Should he return next year, he could climb higher.
“It still has to be decided whether this will be my last home game,” said Podlesny. “That will be decided at the end of the season.”
The Georgia kicker is far from the only player facing a decision in the coming weeks. Only for Stetson Bennett, Chris Smith and Robert Beal will Saturday definitely be their last home game. Georgia has many seniors honored on Saturday, although some have already gone through the pregame ceremonies that accompany Seniors’ Day.
“It’s like a puzzle,” said Georgia coach Kirby Smart. “I think we have seven or eight that will be repeat runners. That means they ran last year and they’re going this year. And then we’ll probably have the timetable for decisions and things like that right away. It’s over in college football.”
Smart is very proud of what this ‘older’ class has achieved. 2019 signees include players like Kenny McIntosh, Nolan Smith and Warren McClendon, players who have already won a national championship and have emerged as key figures for the program.
“There’s not a huge star cast,” Smart said. “There will not be 15 draft picks. But there are some people who really care about UGA and have sacrificed a lot to this program.”
However, Saturday will not just be one last game for the seniors. There will be draft-eligible juniors like Jalen Carter or Kelee Ringo who may hear their names early on draft night.
Related: Georgia football very happy to bring Jalen Carter back with Tennessee: ‘He influences games differently’
And given the transfer portal, some lesser-known names are also expected to play their last home game at Sanford Stadium. The Bulldogs had 13 player transfers after last season.
Expect something similar again this off-season.
“We’ll know a lot more about this over the next few weeks,” Smart said of the status of his list. “Because no one really went through that window. It’s very similar to last year.
“But the window — opening and closing the portal window and preventing coaches from taking to the streets during SEC championship week so they can put their rosters together properly, it’s all kind of new and different.”
Georgia’s roster could be held together better than most if it’s able to make the college football playoffs. The Bulldogs did not have a playoff in the transfer portal until their college football playoff season ended.
Due to changes in the NCAA calendar, players have time to enter the portal from December 5th to January 18th. In addition, a second portal will be opened in the spring from May 1st to 15th.
The Bulldogs will have a game the week before the transfer portal opens, as Georgia will play LSU on December 3. Smart understands the request he makes to his players by putting the team in front of them.
“So we can’t have these conversations and do these things,” Smart said. “So every single player has to be able to put the team first while also recognizing that, hey, your individualism in college football is greater than ever now in terms of decisions you make.”
Smart knows that not every player he signs as a recruit will make it to Senior Day. It’s part of what makes Georgia the program it is.
And what makes days like Saturday so special for those who manage to persevere and make it to the end of their careers in Georgia.
“You know, if you’re not good enough to play here, you probably won’t be able to play in the NFL,” Smart said. “So what do you want to be a part of? Would you like to be part of something winning, something special? And we sell that. And it’s not for everyone, but it’s what we sell.”
Kirby Smart shares his thoughts on senior football in Georgia
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