It’s fortunate for Georgia that Chaz Chambliss feels like a ‘whole different player’ than he was a year ago because his role certainly will be.

Chambliss, who spent his first two years behind two future NFL draft picks on the depth chart, enters year three as the only upperclassman in the outside linebacker room.

Chambliss’ situation is certainly unique, as outside linebacker is Georgia’s only position with no seniors and just one junior.

That’s where Chambliss’ experience in the second half of the 2022 season comes to play.

The junior, who abruptly stepped into star linebacker Nolan Smith’s spot after Smith tore his pectoral muscle against Florida, used the first significant snaps of his career to settle into UGA’s defense.

Chambliss totaled 14 tackles and two sacks in the last eight games after Smith’s injury. He had just one tackle through the season’s first seven games.

“I feel like a whole different player from the beginning to the end,” Chambliss said. “From Oregon to Ohio State to TCU, it feels like a whole different game.”

Chambliss noted a heightened comfort around the defense on Tuesday, recognizing the consistency of Georgia’s coaching staff as another contributing factor.

Indeed, all of UGA’s defensive position coaches and co-defensive coordinators returned to Athens this season.

The Bulldogs might be short on experienced outside linebackers, but Chambliss is leading a talent-stacked group of underclassmen through spring practices.

Sophomores Jalon Walker, Darris Smith and Marvin Jones all saw limited action last season. Jones and Smith both logged four tackles in four games while Jones finished with nine in five games.

Chambliss is trying to help them - as well as freshmen Samuel M’Pemba, Damon Wilson and Gabe Harris - find that same comfort in the defense.

It’s a new job for Chambliss, but he has used an old teacher to walk him through it.

Ever and always the vocal leader, Nolan Smith has helped Chambliss navigate being the veteran in the position room. Chambliss mentioned one lesson that Smith and fellow NFL draft prospect Robert Beal taught him.

“Just being there for the young guys like they were there for me,” Chambliss said. “They were there for me and were helping me get through all the times I had as a freshman because that’s a long journey to when you get to playing shape.

“Right now, it’s just embracing that role and trying to help the young guys.”

Outside linebacker has been one of the most influential positions for UGA in recent years. Smith and Beal are the latest of many outside linebackers that led Georgia defenses and are now headed to the NFL.

Chambliss doesn’t find motivation in comparisons, though. He’s interested in maintaining the standards required to be an elite defense.

“Nobody runs the ball on us,” Chambliss said. “Nobody gets past third downs on us. Nobody gets in our end zone. … Anything else is not good enough.”