To some extent, Travon Walker knows what freshman Jalen Carter is going through. The latter enters the program with high expectations as he signed as a 5-star defensive lineman in the 2020 recruiting cycle.
Walker did the same as a member of the 2019 class and played well when called upon in his freshman season. He made a handful of huge plays, including the game-clinching sack against Auburn. At one point, Georgia coach Kirby Smart said he had to find a way to get Walker on the field more as a freshman.
Given Walker’s performance, expectations are raised for Carter. Though based on what Walker said of the freshman from Apopka, Fla., Carter might be up to meeting them.
“He’s shown a lot of great things. The sky is the limit for him,” Walker said. “He’s a very talented player. he doesn’t have to be coached a lot because he already came in knowing a lot. That says a lot about him.”
Carter will have an opportunity to earn a role in the Georgia defense, even if it’s not as a starter. The Bulldogs must replace five defensive linemen from last season’s team, including its most productive member in Tyler Clark.
Related: Incoming freshman Jalen Carter feels he can play a Tyler Clark-type role as a freshman
The young freshman turned some heads recently when he had a viral practice clip against Trey Hill. The young freshman more than held his own against one of the best centers in the SEC.
What helps Carter in that aspect is that he entered the Georgia program physically filled out, as he’s listed at 6-foot-3 and 305 pounds. Already having that kind of size, should help Georgia out in one area the Walker says the coaching staff has harped on.
“One main thing our defense is emphasizing is our third and short. We need to get a lot better in our third and short game,” Walker said. “Coach has been preaching about that and we’ve been working at it to get better.”
While Carter is a great athlete — he also played basketball and was a state champion weightlifter in high school — he’ll probably have to find a different route to the field than Walker first did, as the latter was running down and making players on kickoff at a nimble 6-foot-5 and 285 pounds.
Finding a role in a defense as stout as Georgia’s figures to be might be tough for most players, especially a freshman. Given Georgia rotates so many bodies in though, there is the opportunity for early playing time even if it is not as an every-down starter. For as promising as Walker’s freshman year was, he did not have a start for the Bulldogs.
But because of how diverse Georgia’s defense is situationally, he managed to earn Freshman All-SEC honors.
“It really helps with guys being able to stay fresh,” Walker said. “Being able to get fresh rushes in on third down and then being able to push the pocket and get off the field with three-and-outs.”
Walker, though just a sophomore, also shared a bit of advice he was for the freshman and something that helped him, and potentially Carter, get on the field.
“One of the main things is to tell the young guys is give it all you got,” Walker said. “If you give everything that you have, nobody can tell you that you can’t be on the field with the 1’s and 2’s.”
Georgia football defensive lineman Travon Walker praises Jalen Carter