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Georgia football fans shouldn’t overlook Nolan Smith
When you’ve recruited as well as Georgia has, it’s easy to overlook some players. In the past three recruiting classes, Georgia has signed 15 composite 5-star recruits. That number is by far the most in the country over that time span.
Because of that, some guys are bound to get lost in the shuffle. Just look at Georgia’s outside linebacker position. The Bulldogs brought in 5-star prospects Adam Anderson and Brenton Cox in the 2018 class. Then they landed the nation’s No. 1 JUCO player in Jermaine Johnson, whose also an outside linebacker. The lesser-hyped guys include the likes of Walter Grant and Azeez Ojulari — who have already made plenty of meaningful contributions at Georgia.
Georgia’s outside linebacker room is perhaps the most talented on the entire team. And that’s all before you even mention Nolan Smith.
Smith was the No. 1 overall player in the 2019 247Sports Composite ranking. He’s drawn comparisons to Von Miller and Khalil Mack. He ran a 4.55 40-yard dash at 225 pounds last March. For comparison, Sony Michel ran a 4.54 at 214 pounds. And yet, it seems like some aren’t pegging him to have the kind of impact that a recruit of his caliber should have.
He didn’t make ESPN’s list of true freshmen to watch for spring practice. And he was left off of ESPN’s list of players their most excited to watch in favor of the aforementioned Johnson. The national media missing on key players is nothing new, but it still is a little jarring to see Smith not get the attention that some of his highly rated peers get.
Maybe the lack of national praise comes from the fact that he was a long-time Georgia commit, as he pledged his services to Georgia almost a full two years before he signed. Or the fact that despite he was No. 1 in the composite rankings, no recruiting service had him as the No. 1 overall player. And again, maybe some of it is due to the fact that he’s entering a loaded position group.
But it’s not like Smith is just hype. He played his high school football for IMG Academy, which routinely played some of top teams in the nation. As a senior, he picked up 8.5 sacks in 8 games against elite competition. And in this year’s All-American Bowl, Smith picked up two sacks in the first quarter of the game before the opposing team began to double team him. He’s also taken home a number of national awards following his high school career.
Related: These five players have the most to gain for Georgia’s spring practice
Despite not formally meeting with the media since January, there will be plenty for Smart to talk about. It’ll be the first chance he’ll be able to take questions on Georgia’s two new coordinators, as James Coley and Dan Lanning take over for Jim Chaney and Mel Tucker.
It’ll also be a chance to get some health updates on a number of players. Some of the players he’s most likely to get asked about include running back Zamir White, as well as defensive tackle Jordan Davis. White missed all of last season after tearing his ACL in August. Davis missed the Sugar Bowl with a back injury. Smart did make some public comments about Davis and his need to keep his weight in check.
Related: Zamir White: Key source makes compelling case for a big comeback
Smart could also get asked about Justin Fields, as he has not answered questions on Fields since his departure from the program. Fields is now at Ohio State, and has been ruled immediately eligible for the 2019 season. Smart could also address the not so thinly veiled shot Dan Mullen took at him regarding the handling of the Fields transfer situation.
A lot has happened regarding Georgia since the last time Smart spoke in a press conference setting. It will be very interesting to see how elaborate and in-depth he goes on a number of topics pertaining to Georgia football.
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