Georgia football-national media-defense-2021
091821 Athens: Georgia defensive lineman Jordan Davis (from left), outside linebacker Robert Beal Jr., and defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt get the defensive set from the sidelines against South Carolina during the first half in a NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept 18, 2021, in Athens. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Lombardi Award slight shows perception of Georgia football yet to catch up to reality

ATHENS — Georgia football holds the No. 1 spot in the nation, but it’s fair to say there are plenty who are either not aware or not convinced.

The Rotary Lombardi Award, based in Houston, revealed the 12 semifinalists for its annual award, which goes to the best offensive or defensive lineman, and there was not one Georgia football player on the list.

This, even though the Bulldogs have led the nation in run defense each of the past two seasons and rank fourth this year, while also leading the country in total defense, scoring defense an pass efficiency defense thanks to the dominant play of the front seven.

Georgia nose tackle Jordan Davis, at 6-foot-6 and 340 pounds, is hard to miss.

Davis is among the top NFL draft prospects and considered a virtual lock to be a Nagurski Award (best defensive player) finalist.

In what college football university is Davis not among the top linemen in the sport?

One could make a case Davis is among the top 12 lineman college football has seen over the past 10 years.

Beyond Davis, a case on the Georgia defensive line could be made for sophomore defensive tackle Jalen Carter, who leads the team with 17 QB hurries, or senior defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt.

Instead, the only Lomardi Award semifinalist who will be on the field at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday when Georgia meets No. 11-ranked Kentucky is Wildcats offensive tackle Darian Kinnard.

The Alabama defense, it’s worth noting, has three players among the 12 finalists, including offensive lineman Evan Neal and linebackers Will Anderson and Christian Harris.

Even more interesting, former Georgia defensive end Jermaine Johnson, who left the Bulldogs in part because he wasn’t able to get more snaps because of the competition around him, is among the finalists.

Also, if linebackers are eligible, it’s hard to understand why Georgia outside linebacker Adam Anderson and inside linebacker Nakobe Dean are not on the list.

Anderson has 11 quarterback pressures and a team-high 4 sacks, while Dean has 3 1/2 sacks and is second on the team with 23 tackles.

A closer look at the Alabama defensive rankings compared to those of Georgia’s at the halfway point of the season makes the Lombardi’s selection of two Crimson Tide defensive players and no Bulldogs even more puzzling:

No. 15 total defense (Georgia is No. 1)

No. 40 scoring defense (Georgia is No. 1)

No. 74 pass efficiency defense (Georgia is No. 1)

No. 25 run defense, (Georgia is No. 4).

College Football Hall of Famer David Pollack is the only Georgia player to have won the Lombardi Award (2004).

Alabama has built a dynamic brand, and based on how the Lombardi Award has slighted deserving Georgia players, it’s obvious it will take time for the Bulldogs to earn respect on a national level.

Here is the list of Lombardi Award semifinalists:

Alabama: Will Anderson, OLB

Alabama: Christian Harris, MLB

Alabama: Evan Neal, OL

Texas A&M: Kenyon Green, OL

Kentucky: Darian Kinnard, OL

BYU: James Empey, C

Michigan: Alden Hutchinson, DE

Florida State: Jermaine Johnson, DE

Iowa: Tyler Linderbaum, C

Ohio State: Thayer Munford, OL

Penn State: PJ Mustipher, DT

Iowa State: Mike Rose, LB