ORLANDO, Fla., — When Georgia needed a defensive lineman to make a play this year, Tyler Clark was one of the handful of players who could actually do it.
Clark had a number of disruptive plays this season, most memorably a goalline stop against South Carolina in overtime. He had a team-high 8.0 tackles for loss while also adding in 2.5 sacks during the 2019 campaign.
But Georgia will have to replace Clark in 2020, as he is a senior and moving on to the NFL. So who will replace the disruptive senior next season?
In steps 2020 signee Jalen Carter. The 6-foot-4, 305-pound specimen is the highest-rated defensive lineman Georgia signed during the 2020 cycle. He’s the No. 53 ranked player in the country and the No. 6 defensive tackle in the country.
And he knows he’s got an opportunity to make an early-impact at Georgia.
“Tyler Clark is a very good player and I feel like I can come in and play exactly like him at the next level,” Carter said.
Carter comes from Apopka, Fla., and attended the same high school as legendary defensive lineman Warren Sapp. With a strong week at the Under Armour All-American Game, Carter will very likely see his stock rise, especially coming off of a disruptive senior season.
But for a number of reasons, Carter hasn’t received the same type of hype as some of the other members of Georgia’s class. For starters, he committed to Georgia back in May and never once wavered from his pledge. Florida made a late run at him, but after his commitment, Carter never visited another school.
Related: Why commitment of 4-star DT Jalen Carter is a big win for Georgia football
“When I went to Georgia, it just felt like a good place, ” Carter said. “The coaching staff is great, and I just kept going back there.”
Another reason is because of the fact that interior defensive linemen rarely make an impact early on. But Carter does have a road map of sorts to doing that at Georgia, given Travon Walker did so a season ago. Over the course of the season, Walker became a bigger piece of the puzzle and had a number of highlight plays, including a game-ending sack against Auburn.
Related: ‘Extremely athletic’ Travon Walker churns freshman potential into performance
Georgia will have to replace not just Clark but four other senior defensive linemen as well. On his own, Carter won’t be able to replace all their products and talents. That’s why Georgia is also bringing in the likes of Warren Brinson and Nazir Stackhouse in the 2020 recruiting class as well.
But Carter definitely has the potential to fill a number of roles for the Bulldogs next year. Carter feels that while he might be best suited as a three-technique, he does feel comfortable moving around the defensive line and is quietly confident he can play well against the run and the pass.
Jalen Carter excited to get to Georgia for next season