ATHENS — Georgia inside linebacker Nakobe Dean underwent labrum surgery on Tuesday and is expected to be limited to non-contact work in spring drills, DawgNation has learned.

Dean had been playing through the injury since sustaining it in November. There is typically a 4-to-6-month recovery window, depending on the severity of the tear and the repair.

Dean led the Bulldogs with 71 tackles last season, 19 more stops than second-leadig tackler Lewis Cine. Dean is expected to be a team captain in 2021.

The Athletic was the first to report the news on Dean’s surgery.

Dean’s injury opens the door for younger players to get reps and compete at the position in spring drills, which typically start at UGA in late March. The program has yet to announce the dates for this spring.

The Bulldogs are also losing inside linebacker Monty Rice off the 2020 team. Rice is moving on to the NFL after playing his senior season.

Quay Walker picked up reps with Rice dealing with a foot injury since the Alabama game, and Channing Tindall started seeing work as Dean’s injury became more apparent down the stretch.

Redshirt freshman Rian Davis, who saw action late in the Missouri game, is another returning inside linebacker due for more work.

Dean went from double-digit tackle performances against Kentucky (14), Florida (15) and Mississippi State (12), to having just 2 tackles against South Carolina and 1 tackle against Missouri.

With three weeks of rest and treatment, Dean was able to saddle up for one final ride, making seven stops in the 24-21 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl win over Cincinnati.

One of those stops was a second-down open-field tackle on the Bearcats that prevented them from running out the clock on their penultimate offensive possession.

Nakobe Dean shares fun recruiting story