Will Georgia Bulldogs try to replace RB Andrew Paul?

Georgia running back Andrew Paul breaks away for yardage during the G-Day game on Saturday, April 13, 2024.  (Curtis Compton for the Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

Georgia running back Andrew Paul breaks away for yardage during the G-Day game on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Curtis Compton for the Atlanta Journal Constitution)

ATHENS — The buzz after Georgia’s Andrew Paul announced his intentions to transfer this week was that the Bulldogs now would be in the market for a running back.

Maybe, maybe not.

The NCAA’s new 15-day, post-spring portal window opened Tuesday, and the influx has been massive. More than 200 football players had entered by 6 p.m. Tuesday, according to ESPN.

Paul, a 5-foot-11, 218-pound, rising junior from Dallas, Texas, was identified as one of the best backs in the transfer portal soon after entering. He was third on the Bulldogs’ depth chart, behind Trevor Etienne and Roderick Robinson.

Paul was the first of two Bulldogs to enter the portal after spring practice concluded Saturday. Paul announced via social media Monday. Redshirt freshman wideout Tyler Williams followed suit Tuesday, when the portal officially opened.

More are expected. The issue is numbers. Georgia exited spring practice well over the NCAA limit of 85 football scholarships. The Bulldogs are believed to be somewhere between 88 and 90, depending on what players currently count against the limit. More than two months ago, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution made an open-records request for Georgia’s NCAA paperwork detailing its football scholarship distribution. As of this week, UGA has not produced any documents.

It may never be known if Paul was encouraged by Georgia coach Kirby Smart to explore transfer possibilities or is merely testing the market. It would appear the Bulldogs could use him.

A year removed from an ACL reconstruction, Paul scored a touchdown and gained 129 yards on 29 carries in seven games last season. He was Georgia’s most productive back in the G-Day game Saturday, getting loose for 44 yards on four carries while splitting time with both the Red and Black squads. He also had two catches for five yards.

But considering the Bulldogs’ scholarship predicament, it’s not readily apparent that they will replace Paul. Without him, Georgia still has five backs on scholarship, plus experienced junior walk-on Cash Jones.

Roderick Robinson, a sophomore, was the first-team running back for G-Day (11 carries, 24 yards rushing/3 catches, 18 yards receiving). Also, the Bulldogs brought in junior Trevor Etienne from Florida via the portal in December. Though his play Saturday was limited (4-24/3-33), he stands to be Georgia’s featured back next season. Freshman early-enrollee Chauncey Bowens had five carries for 22 with the No. 2 offense. The Bulldogs also signed Mableton speedster Dwight Phillips, though he is not yet enrolled.

The X-factor could be Branson Robinson. The third-year sophomore from Kent, Mississippi, sustained a ruptured patella tendon Aug. 22. That means he will be more than 11 months removed from surgery when the Bulldogs open preseason camp the first of August.

Branson Robinson’s specific injury is considered one of the more troublesome in football from which to return. However, medical strides have been made in recent years, and there have been some success stories. Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham made it back in less than 10 months to become a Pro Bowl player again and Dallas Cowboys/New York Jets cornerback Morris Claiborne also was able to return to start.

Robinson made an appearance on The Players Lounge podcast last week with teammates Malaki Starks and Miles Thornton and indicated he is on track for a fast return.

“To be honest, bro, I feel good; I feel like I could go out there right now,” Robinson said. “But I’m just taking it day-by-day.”

He added, when he does return, “it’s going to be hell. You’re going to know I’m back.”

In the meantime, there are some interesting running back prospects in the portal should Georgia choose to enter the market. The most intriguing might be Damien Martinez, a 6-foot, 232-pound sophomore at Oregon State. Martinez has rushed for 2,167 yards and 16 touchdowns in 25 games for the Beavers the last two seasons. However, ESPN’s Pete Thamel reports that he was making more than $400,000 in an NIL agreement in Corvallis.

Also, Ohio State sophomore Dallan Hayden also reported entered the portal this week. Hayden played in only three games last year as a backup, but had three 100-yard rushing games his freshman season.

Then, again, Paul could decide to come back.

As for Williams, the Bulldogs are loaded at the wide receiver position. Thus far, at least, the 6-3, 205-pound redshirt freshman from Lakeland, Florida, had not been able to play his way into the rotation. He played in two games last season, catching one pass for four yards against Alabama-Birmingham. Georgia has still has 22 wideouts on the roster, 11 on scholarship, including three that were added via the portal since last season.

Paul and Williams make the 21st and 22nd Georgia players to enter the portal this year. That number rises to 23 when including defensive back Keyon “Smoke” Bouie, who left before last season but, so far, has not returned to football. All the other players have found new homes. Offensive lineman Chad Lindberg announced Tuesday he signed with Rice.

Georgia has added eight players via the transfer portal since December. Two of them – tight end Benjamin Yuroksek and long snapper Beau Gardner – have yet to enroll.


1. Aliou Bah – Maryland

2. Austin Blaske – North Carolina

3. Jamon Dumas-Johnson – Kentucky

4. Nyland Green – Purdue

5. AJ Harris – Penn State

6. Zeed Haynes – Syracuse

7. Jonathan Jefferson – SMU

8. Marvin Jones Jr. – Florida State

9. EJ Lightsey – Georgia Tech

10. Chad Lindberg – Rice

11. CJ Madden – Colorado

12.Jackson Meeks – Syracuse

13. Mekhi Mews -- Houston

14. Josh Miller – Syracuse

15. DeNylon Morrissette – Purdue

16. Andrew Paul – In portal

17. CJ Smith – Purdue

18. Darris Smith – Missouri

19. Xavian Sorey – Arkansas

20. Brock Vandagriff – Kentucky

21. Tyler Williams – In portal

22. Jared Zirkel – Texas A&M