ATHENS — The nation’s No. 1-ranked recruit in the 2019 signing class is making moves — in every practice, and in every game.
Nolan Smith led Georgia with 1.5 sacks in its 63-17 win over Murray State last Saturday. Smith has yet to start a game, but he’s making an impact.
“Nolan is smart, Nolan listens, so when you give Nolan a plan and say, ‘this is the way I want you to rush on this defense,’ or, ‘this is the way I want you to rush on this particular tackle,’ he does it,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said on Monday.
“He applies what he learns. He plays with just maximum effort. He’s like a wild man, hair on fire, I’m never over.”
Smith’s power is one thing, as evidenced by how he bull-rushed an offensive tackle en route to his first sack of the day last Saturday.
But film study reveals that what separates Smith is his relentless pursuit and uncanny closing speed.
Smith’s athleticism and skills are well-documented, but the Georgia head football coach believes it has as much to do with desire.
“A lot of football is effort, (and) you can take 10 five-stars, and 10 three-stars and you go out there and put one other guy on the team to make 11 and the team that plays the hardest usually finds a way to win the game,” Smart said, “and that’s what Nolan does, he plays hard. That makes football important to him.”
Defensive coordinator Dan Lanning oversees the outside linebackers. Lanning has been working each day to improve the talents of what might be the most talented room out outside linebackers in the nation.
Smart, who spends much of his time on the defensive side of the field, is closely watching Smith’s progress.
“He’s going to get matched up on better and better (players), like this week, he is going to play better tackles than he played last week,” Smart said.
“He’s got to use his skill set, he’s got to use his trade and he’s got to understand how the defense is engineered to make it work.”
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