David Pollack explains why Nolan Smith is going to be a ‘superstar stud’
David Pollack holds Georgia’s all-time sack record with 36. He’s on the very short list of all-time best defensive player at the University of Georgia. He knows a thing or two about being a college superstar and a disruptive defender.
And Pollack thinks he sees some of the traits that make up a truly dominant pass rusher in freshman Nolan Smith.
“Nolan Smith is going to be a freak. This dude is freaky Friday,” Pollack said while appearing on DawgNation Daily on Wednesday. “The way he plays the game with his athleticism, with his attitude, that man is a superstar stud.”
Smith had high expectations coming into Georgia, given he was rated as the nation’s No. 1 prospect in the 2019 recruiting cycle.
The Bulldogs had a pretty big hole to fill at outside linebacker, as D’Andre Walker — Georgia’s top pass rusher in 2018 — is now a member of the Tennessee Titans. And Georgia coach Kirby Smart frequently mentions he wants this team to create more disruptive plays this season.
While the competition hasn’t exactly been strenuous, the outside linebacker room has held up their end of the bargain in terms of havoc plays. Through three games, the Bulldogs already have 12 sacks. It took them 14 games last season to get to 24.
“I think they’ve been technically sound. That room has changed so much in the past six and seven months,” Smart said of the outside linebacker room. “Nolan is such a positive impact. It’s just the dynamic in that room. That get along so well, they compete really hard and they’re playing at a high level. They’ve gotten more sacks than they’ve had in a long time.”
Smith has played a starring role of sorts in that uptick in production. He’s one of four players tied for the team lead in sacks with 1.5. Those all came in the Murray State win, but perhaps the reason why Pollack speaks so glowingly of Smith and his potential actually happened in the Vanderbilt game.
In the second quarter of that game, Smith entered the game on an obvious passing down situation. That meant Smith would have chance to get after Vanderbilt quarterback Riley Neal. But as Smith beat Vanderbilt’s offensive tackle off the edge, Neal stepped up in the pocket in an attempt to scramble for the first down.
While some players might have given up, Smith continued with his pursuit. He didn’t get credit for the sack, but Smith brought Neal down for a measly 1-yard gain. Smith’s hustle ended up forcing a Vanderbilt punt.
Smith hasn’t had to do it alone, as the Bulldogs have multiple sacks from the likes of Jermaine Johnson, Channing Tindall and Azeez Ojulari. Smart praised Ojulari as the leader of the room as he has started every game this season. The redshirt freshman from Marietta has actually gotten a .5 sack in each of Georgia’s three games.
And when Ojulari was asked about Smith, it’s easy to see why his mental approach — to go along with the freakish athletic ability —helped make him the No. 1 prospect in the country, have plenty of people buzzing about Smith’s potential.
“Nolan just keeps progressing every day and every week. He comes in and works hard every day,” Ojulari said. “He’s learning from coach Lanning and coach (Jarvis) Jones. He’s a listen guy, he’s going to do whatever you ask.”
Azeez Ojulari discusses Georgia football outside linebacker Nolan Smith
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