No. 1 Georgia expects injured Bulldogs to be back for national title game

Georgia football-Darnell Washington-injury



Bulldogs tight end Darnell Washington likely will play Monday night against TCU in the College Football Playoff National Championship game. (Hyosub Shin /

ATHENS — There is a very good chance that Georgia will have Chaz Chambliss and Darnell Washington available to play against TCU in the national championship game Monday.

That was one of several updates provided by Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart on Tuesday as he and Horned Frogs coach Sonny Dykes fielded reporters’ questions during a teleconference call. It was the first media availability for the College Football Playoff Championship game since the teams punched their tickets to the final, and will be the last until the coaches and their teams step off their respective planes in Los Angeles on Friday.

No. 1 Georgia and No. 3 TCU will square off at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., at 7:30 p.m. Monday to decide the 2022 national champion. The Bulldogs (14-0) are seeking to become the first repeat champion since Alabama in 2012. TCU (13-1) last claimed a national championship in 1938.

Washington and Chambliss were injured in the first half of Saturday’s thrilling 42-41 win over No. 4 Ohio State in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl semifinal at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Washington, a 6-foot-7, 270-pound junior tight end, injured his left ankle. Chambliss, an outside linebacker, hurt his knee. Meanwhile, slotback Ladd McConkey (knee tendinitis) played injured, and right tackle Warren McClendon (MCL sprain) dressed out but did not play.

“We’re hopeful to get all those guys back,” was all Smart said during Tuesday’s conference call.

However, Smart was more forthcoming during an ESPN interview on Monday from Athens. He revealed that Washington actually had “a soft-tissue injury” that resulted from Washington getting his foot stepped on. That makes it more likely that he will be able to come back from it.

Chambliss has become a primary backup at Georgia’s “Jack” outside linebacker position since starter Nolan Smith went out with a torn pectoral muscle in late October. He was deemed to have a hyperextension, meaning Chambliss also possibly could play. Sixth-year senior Robert Beal, the starter at the Jack position, also was banged up late in the semifinal game. However, his issue was cramping, and he should be good to go.

McConkey played Saturday despite a lingering knee injury and certainly will do so again Monday. The biggest uncertainty at this point is McClendon, who did not play Saturday. Sophomore Amarius Mims started and played well while going the entire game.

Being the last game of the season and it being “for it all,” expect them all to give it a go.

“Are you injured or are you hurt?” said Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett, who was having a foot looked at throughout Saturday’s game. “If you’re not injured, you suck it up and play because what are you saving yourself for now?”

Said defensive back Javon Bullard: “This is for all the marbles. ... Now’s not the time to complain about your body. It’s been a long season, but we’re the last two teams in college football.”