ATHENS — Georgia All-American Jordan Davis stood tall before the media on Monday, embracing what he referred to as a “bittersweet” feeling while discussing Senior Day on Saturday.
The No. 1-ranked Bulldogs (10-0) play host to Charleston Southern (4-5) at noon on Saturday at Sanford Stadium in what’s expected to be the final home game for Davis and many of the other UGA seniors.
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“Four years ago, you hear a lot about how this journey ends fast,” Davis said. “But at the end of the day, it’s one of those moments you have to savor and appreciate being a part of the program.”
The Bulldogs certainly appreciate the 6-foot-6, 345-pound Davis, who has been willing to play a role occupying gaps and blockers so linebackers can make plays.
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Davis has only 14 tackles and 2 sacks this season, yet he ranks among the favorites for the Outland Trophy and Nagurski Award, as well as being widely projected as first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
This, after arriving at UGA as a 3-star project in the 2018 signing class. Indeed, Davis ranked No. 22 of the 24 Georgia signees in 2018, the No. 424 player in the nation and No. 15 player in North Carolina, per the 247Sports composite.
“It’s something I never expected in a million years,” Davis said of his stardom. “It’s an honor, I’m blessed, it’s one of those things you think about.
“It takes a village to raise a child, and I’m glad I chose this village.”
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Tough and resilient
Davis is proud to be a part of the Bulldogs’ 2018 class, many of whom will be joined by 2017 Class members being recognized before kickoff.
“Tough and resilient,” Davis said, asked to describe the players he signed with. “We came in, there have been ebbs and flows throughout the seasons we played. It’s one of those things, I wish we had a full senior class.
“People transfer, people go to the league, and I wish they were here to experience this moment.”
Seven players transferred out of the 2018 Class, including Chicago Bears QB Justin Fields. Another three stayed at Georgia and left early for the NFL.
One player went the JUCO route and ended up at Nebraska, and another, Adam Anderson, is indefinitely suspended on account of a rape charge.
“At the end of the day,” Davis said, “We still have love for them.”
Davis also has love for Georgia, from players like Michael Barnett and Jonathan Ledbetter, who took him under their wing when he arrived to line coach Tray Scott, and certainly Kirby Smart.
Smart challenged the players who came back with “unfinished business,” Davis included, who he often publicly chides to stay at an effective weight.
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Davis knows those high standards are part of what makes Georgia such a special and effective place for developing football players.
“Georgia isn’t for everybody, but if it is for you‚ and you want to be coached hard and you want to do something special, then this is the place for you,” Davis said. “It’s hard work. It’s tough, offseason is tough. It can make you or break you.
“People say pressure builds diamonds or busts pipes, and I want to be one of the diamonds.”
Davis, like his defensive linemate Devonte Wyatt, could have declared for the NFL draft last season and been living the professional life.
But he’s never wavered on his decision to return and is intent on making the most of it.
“Definitely it was worth it, (and) I can say for myself, I’m having the most fun I’ve had since I’ve been here,” Davis said.
“Not even just football, but football aside, I’m taking the time to actually be a student, go to events around campus and interact with people. Not just football players and not just athletes.
“I want to make sure at the end of the day, I squeezed as much as I could out of this college experience because you only get to do it once.”
Georgia 2018 signing class
(* fourth-year juniors)
Current Offense Starters
RB James Cook
OL Warren Ericson*
TE John FitzPatrick*
WR Kearis Jackson*
OL Jamaree Salyer
RB Zamir White
PK Jack Podlesny*
Current Defense starters
DT Jordan Davis
FS Christopher Smith
LB Channing Tindall
LB Quay Walker
DT Devonte Wyatt
CB Derion Kendrick, Clemson transfer in
P Jake Camarda
OL Owen Condon
DL Tramel Walthour
WR Tommy Bush, North Texas
DE Brenton Cox, Florida
QB Justin Fields, Ohio State (NFL)
SS Otis Reese, Ole Miss
TE Luke Ford, Illinois
OT Cade Mays, Tennessee
FS Divaad Wilson, Central Florida
Current NFL players
CB Tyson Campbell
OLB Azeez Ojulari
OL Trey Hill
CB Nadab Joseph, Independence CC/Nebraska
OLB Adam Anderson