Georgia Bulldogs lose RB Andrew Paul to knee injury

Credit: Tony Walsh/UGAAA

Credit: Tony Walsh/UGAAA

ATHENS — Coach Kirby Smart mentioned after Georgia’s scrimmage Saturday that the Bulldogs had suffered “some nicks, bumps and bruises today.” He didn’t mention running back Andrew Paul, however.

Turns out the freshman running back from Dallas, Texas, suffered a torn ACL in the Bulldogs’ final scrimmage of preseason camp. Paul is expected to undergo surgery in the next week or so and will be out for the season, according to people familiar with the situation. was first to report the news.

Paul’s absence leaves Georgia short at running back for the coming season, which begins in 13 days. Paul, a three-star recruiting prospect, was a late addition to the Bulldogs’ 2022 signing class but had been standing out in practices.

“He’s a great kid from a great family,” Georgia running backs coach Dell McGee said of Paul the second week of preseason practices. “Very quiet, hard worker, so he fits all the character of things we’re looking for in our football players. We also needed another running back. We always like to keep five in our roster. Our lineup number is six, but we’ve been kind of shorting that number because of the talent that we’ve had in the room.”

Typically, Georgia plays three to four backs per game. Paul’s absence leaves the Bulldogs with four scholarship backs overall. Like fellow freshman Branson Robinson, Paul did not enroll until June and therefore missed offseason workouts and spring practice.

The Bulldogs are also without junior Kendall Milton. The former five-star prospect has been sidelined with a hamstring injury the last two weeks.

Senior Kenny McIntosh is slated to take over as the Bulldogs’ primary ball carrier this season and has had an exceptional camp. Junior Daijun Edwards also has remained healthy and productive throughout the preseason.

Georgia also has a better-than-usual collection of walk-ons at running back, including junior Sevaughn Clark of Dawsonville, redshirt freshman Cash Jones of Brock, Texas, and redshirt sophomore Lorenzo Stephenson, a 5-foot-8, 180-pound transfer from Jacksonville University who played high school ball in Georgia at Apalachee High.

The Bulldogs will have to manage with that group. The good news is that offensive coordinator Todd Monken has many options with which to attack opposing defenses. Georgia goes six-deep in what most believe to be the most talented tight-end corps in the country and has at least a dozen wideouts to choose from.

To date, wide receiver Arian Smith (ankle) is the only other player to suffer an injury that will result in extensive recovery time. Senior flanker Kearis Jackson was sidelined with an Achilles tendon issue on Saturday, but Smart indicated he “probably could’ve gone” if the Bulldogs weren’t being cautious.

Meanwhile, several other players are still trying to get back to 100%, some of which Smart touched on Saturday. They included freshman tackle Earnest Greene, junior linebacker Rian Davis, senior defensive end Tramel Walthour, junior tight end Brett Seither and freshman wideout De’Nylon Morrissette. Also, sophomore guard Tate Ratledge (foot) did not practice but is expected to make his way back onto the field this season.

At this late juncture, though, depth at running back has to fall into the concerns column for the 2022 season. Paul had been one of the best surprises of the preseason. The 5-11, 220-pounder rushed for 2,616 yards and 41 touchdowns as a senior at Parish Episcopal School in Dallas.

“The running back tradition here speaks for itself,” McGee said. “That tradition was developed way before I got here.”