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Georgia defensive lineman Jordan Davis (99) during the Bulldogs’ game against Texas A&M on Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. (Photo by Tony Walsh)
Anthony Walsh

Jordan Davis ready to be an every-down ‘problem’ as he returns to Charlotte

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Jordan Davis ready to be an every-down ‘problem’ as he returns to Charlotte for Georgia-Clemson

The podium at SEC Media Days isn’t built for someone like Jordan Davis. Regular-sized people like Nick Saban and Kirby Smart stand behind it. No one bigger than Sam Pittman is supposed to be back there. Certainly not a 6-foot-6, 330-pound defensive tackle like Davis who had to hunch to speak into the microphone until he realized he could adjust it.

But after a few minutes of speaking to a couple of hundred sports reporters, Davis felt at ease. He flashed his cheek-to-cheek grin and spoke earnestly about how finding organic Swedish Fish really helped his diet this offseason.

Davis’ size has always been his defining trait. It’s why he earned playing time for Georgia’s defense as a freshman in 2018. He’s the biggest reason why Georgia has led the country in run defense in each of the past two seasons.

His size, mixed with his quickness, is why it was a pleasant surprise when he announced he would be returning to Georgia for his senior season.

In doing so, Davis has been asked to showcase some other skills for the Georgia football program. He’s become an unquestioned leader on the defense and team while also looking to take on a larger role as a pass rusher this season.

“It’s definitely exciting, especially being a Charlotte native,” Davis said. “I just want to be able to show the city what I can do. I want to be somebody they can brag about in the city: This kid’s from Charlotte. He went to Georgia. He can do it.”

When Michael Palmieri remembers coaching Davis at Mallard Creek High School, the first thing that came to mind was his size.

Even at a high school that sent players to Florida, Clemson, South Carolina and West Virginia, Davis stood out above the rest.

“His potential is NFL. You can tell that from his size and speed,” Palmieri said. “His strength in the weight room is amazing.”

In recounting the recruitment of Davis this past week, Kirby Smart agreed with Palmieri’s assessment.

“He could bend. He could move. He had quickness,” Smart said. “He was huge. It just left me wondering why more people weren’t on him. We thought he was one of the best players in the country and we recruited him as such. It was easy to see.”

The recruiting industry though did not see things the same way. Davis was a 3-star recruit and rated as the No. 424 overall player in the 2018 recruiting class. Part of the relatively low ranking can be chalked up to the fact that he was seen by some as an offensive tackle. Davis’ 6-foot-6 frame is closer to that of Isaiah Wilson and Ben Cleveland than fellow Georgia defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt.

Palmieri had tried Davis out at the position but ultimately decided his team was better off sticking Davis in the middle of his defense.

Davis also didn’t become a regular starter for Mallard Creek until his senior season. Once inserted into the lineup, he quickly demonstrated why he was a college prospect.

“It got to the point where he became unblockable because of his size,” Palmieri said.

Davis didn’t have to wait nearly as long to make an impact at Georgia. He began seeing the field regularly as a freshman before really emerging as a force on running downs for the Georgia defense as a sophomore in 2019.

Georgia’s linebackers routinely gush about how much easier Davis makes their lives.

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