Azeez Ojulari. Make sure to remember that name and have an eye out for No. 38 during spring practice and fall drills.
Kirby Smart even brought up his name late last year. Ojulari spent the balance of 2018 rehabbing and returning to the field after a season-ending knee injury he suffered during his senior year of high school football.
“Azeez is a kid that came out with an attitude of ‘I’m going to go play (and) I want to get better,’ ” Smart said when working through a list of names of guys who have taken advantage of reps during the practices leading up to the Sugar Bowl.
He got some time against Middle Tennessee and then Georgia Tech last year. He then broke out against Texas. Ojulari saw a lot of reps and also was credited with three tackles against those Longhorns in the Sugar Bowl.
It appears the momentum he had established for himself at the end of the 2018 season has carried over into the off-season program.
The off-season buzz regarding Ojulari is that he’s healthy and determined and focused. We’ve heard the term “like he’s made of vibranium” used to describe his resiliency in winter workouts. DawgNation fans that are aware of the Oscar-nominated movie “Black Panther” will get a kick out of that one.
That feedback meshes with some very positive feedback from his high school coach, too. Marietta High coach Richard Morgan has a strong sense of what Ojulari can be for the Bulldogs.
“He’s been playing on a bad knee but I think that is fully recovered now,” Morgan said. “When he first got there to Georgia, he wasn’t fully ready to go. He had just finished rehab. So he’s getting back into it now.”
He’s the type of player who can disrupt the line of scrimmage for Georgia. He will explode off the ball with a lot of power and speed.
Maybe even like he’s made of vibranium.
“Those guys at Georgia haven’t even seen how good he really is,” Morgan said. “They will see it this year because he’ll have that extra year of recovery. He’ll be really ready to go and he’ll have benefitted from already having been there for a year.”
“I expect him to really be something at Georgia.”
How Azeez Ojulari fits into the “Wolfpack” at UGA
Look for Azeez to eventually evolve into more of that strong-side set-the-edge type of defensive end. As he matures and adds a little weight, he might make his living holding down that “C” gap for the Bulldogs.
That will work with the “Wolfpack” mentality of the OLBs room at UGA. The Bulldogs like to deploy those edge rushers in tandems. That way no member of that “Wolfpack” is every rushing the passer at less than 95 or 100 percent energy.
That strategy worked very well during the 2017 season with the likes of Davin Bellamy and Lorenzo Carter harassing QBs early in a series and then D’Andre Walker and Walter Grant coming in hot on an ensuing drive.
There will be a lot of options. Ojulari will be in the mix of guys like Adam Anderson, Robert Beal Jr., Brenton Cox, Walter Grant, Jermaine Johnson and Nolan Smith.
The resumes from that group include:
- 2017 class: 5-star OLB (by one service) and an Under Armour All-American
- 2017 class: Prospect wanted by Alabama and UGA who started eight games in 2018
- 2018 class: 5-star OLB, an Army All-American and the nation’s No. 1 OLB
- 2018 class: 5-star DE and an Under Armour All-American
- 2019: 5-star OLB, an All-American Bowl selection and the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect for 2019
- 2019: 4-star DE and the nation’s No. 1 overall junior college prospect
Check out the group picture from this week. Defensive coordinator Dan Lanning shared this one from his Twitter account. That amount of “Wolfpack” talent around that hibachi grill is simply staggering.
— Dan Lanning (@CoachDanLanning) February 26, 2019
Here’s a simple prediction about Ojulari: His ability, skill set, strength, toughness and work ethic will place him ahead of several of those guys in the playing rotation at some point during the 2019 season.
That’s even though he was only an Army All-American and rated as the nation’s No. 10 OLB prospect coming out of high school.