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Georgia freshman nose guard Jordan Davis has emerged as a key to the Bulldogs' front seven with injuries hitting the team at the midway point of the season.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart says jumbo freshman noseguard Jordan Davis ‘has grinded’

ATHENS — The judgement on Georgia nose guard Jordan Davis is in from the head coach: “doing good things … playing better … hasn’t arrived yet.”

Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart said earlier in the season he hoped Davis would step up by the end of the year, and has he ever, just in the nick of time.

RELATED: Georgia football down three defensive linemen on injury report

“I think it’s safe to say after his last game that (Davis) is going to be running with us more,” senior defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter said. “I’ve never seen a guy that big move that fast, so to be that heavy, he’s playing well, he’s learning his plays quickly.”

The No. 2-ranked Georgia (6-0, 4-0 SEC) program plays at LSU (5-1, 3-1) at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.

The Bulldogs could be down as many as three defensive linemen for the game with the Tigers.

LSU is known for its physical, aggressive style of play at the line of scrimmage, and the ability to play power football in the run game.

RELATED: Georgia senior DL says Bulldogs ‘not going to back down’ at LSU

Smart ruled out senior nose guard DaQuan Hawkins-Muckle, and he said sophomore nose guard Devonte Wyatt is still working to get back after missing last Saturday’s Vanderbilt game on account of a leg injury suffered last week in practice.

Davis stepped up in Wyatt’s place against the Commodores, making a fourth down stop at the Georgia 14 with the Bulldogs’ up 7-3.

“He’s good at holding that double-team and not getting bounced out of there,” said Georgia linebacker Monty Rice. “That’s a tough job, you know, with like 700 pounds bumping against you and you’ve got to hold your ground. I think he does a good job of that, especially when he’s fresh.”

Smart said Saturday night he would reserve judgement until he saw the film, but clearly, the head coach likes Davis’ growth.

He did a nice job of getting involved in the tackle, I mean he continues to get better, he hasn’t arrived yet,” Smart said. “But of all our kids that I’m most proud of, he’s worked the hardest to get where he is. Where a lot of guys as freshman got to come in and they were 2 on the depth chart, or 3 or they got to play, or they played on special teams, this kid has grinded.

“He’s grinded himself into a very productive player, a hard-to-block player, and we’ve just got to get him where he’s got a little more quickness, is able to move better.”

Ledbetter made it clear Davis’ teammates have noticed.

“Most people don’t really know but he has definitely come a long way,” Ledbetter said. “He weighed a lot, he’s still working on losing weight.”

Davis is listed at 6-foot-6 and 320 pounds, but some said he weighed more than 350 pounds when he arrived on campus.

Davis was a 3-star prospect coming out of Charlotte, N.C.

RELATED: 5 things to know about Georgia commit Jordan Davis

“He’s  growing fast, man, and we need him,” Georgia inside linebacker Natrez Patrick said. “He’s turning it on perfectly timed when we need him.”

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