ATHENS — Georgia coach Kirby Smart has yet to mention any “train wreckers” or “havoc makers” on the defensive line this spring.

Fact is, the Bulldogs might not have those dominant sort of defensive linemen — even after the head coach identified that as an issue last spring.

Georgia, as a result, fell from No. 1 in the nation in run defense to No. 18 last season and failed to push the pocket as effectively as it did during its championship seasons with first-round picks Jordan Davis, Devonte Wyatt an Jalen Carter wreaking havoc.

Smart, who has a knack for pushing players into the sort of development that leads to them becoming first round picks, is watching returning starters Nazir Stackhouse and Warren Brinson closely.

“If they stay the same, they did no good coming back,” Smart said at his press conference on Tuesday.

“We’ve had multiple talks about how easy it is to get comfortable and complacent in these years, but they both have a purpose. Are they going to have a chip on their shoulder, or are they just going to sit around and collect? I hope they get better. I hope they grow.”

The Georgia offensive line has been having its way with the defensive line, according to observers.

Neither Stackhouse nor Brinson were among the four defensive linemen selected by the SEC coaches as first-team picks after UGA had five defensive linemen selected in the first-round of the previous two NFL drafts.

Stackhouse said the No. 1 reason he returned was to improve his NFL draft stock.

Smart is certainly on board with that, and he hopes Brinson will improve his value, too.

“I hope they have intentions of moving up, improving their draft status,” Smart said, “and getting their degrees.”

Smart has identified the position as challenging to recruit, with precious few dominant interior defensive linemen available in each recruiting class.

Georgia added a player with great potential in South Carolina transfer Xzavier McCloud.

McCloud, according to those who watched the Gamecocks closely, did not realize his potential in Columbia in 2023.

The South Carolina school website took the curious measure of listing on McCloud’s bio that he was “dismissed from the team before entering the transfer portal on Oct. 26.”

Georgia, of course, is a different sort of football environment and Smart would not have added the South Carolina transfer to the roster if he didn’t believe the switch would flip on.

The Bulldogs will continue to progress in spring workouts leading up to the annual G-Day Game on April 13 at Sanford Stadium.