Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter (88) during a game against Mississippi State at Davis-Wade Stadium in Starkville, Miss., on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022. (photo by Rob Davis)
Rob Davis

WATCH: Georgia star Jalen Carter in takeover mode, leading reloaded elite defense

ATHENS — Jalen Carter is in takeover mode, spearheading a recharged Georgia defense that’s playing at an elite level down the stretch.

Carter has overcome foot, ankle and knee injuries this season and is back playing at a dominant level for a No. 1-ranked Bulldogs defense that gets better with each outing.

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“He’s made us go we need to go on defense. He’s healthy, he’s playing, he’s taking the burden off those other guys.”

Carter has played more defensive snaps in the past two games (88) than he did the first five games he played combined (84).

“He brings us more energy and more confidence in the defense,” UGA defensive end Tramel Walthour said.

The 6-foot-3, 300-pound Carter has explosive get-off, tremendous athleticism and impressive power, making him a handful for anyone.

Carter will surely join the Bulldogs’ first-round NFL draft club next April, and he might possibly give Georgia two consecutive No. 1 overall picks.

Three of the five first-round picks off last year’s Georgia defense were on the defensive line, including No. 1 overall pick Travon Walker.

But first things first, Carter will be hunting an SEC Championship and another CFP Championship ring once the Bulldogs finish the regular season at Kentucky this Saturday (3: 30 p.m.) and then home against Georgia Tech (Noon) on Nov. 26.

Smart cautioned on Monday that the Wildcats have posed one of the more physical challenges each of the past two seasons, and he doesn’t expect things to be any different in Lexington on Saturday.

“When you ask our kids over the last two years what the most physical game they played in, to a man, almost every one of them talks about how physical the Kentucky game was two years ago up there,” Smart said. “And then at our place last year, where they went on a 20-something play drive against our defense to end the game.”

It will be up to Carter and the defense to keep projected first-round quarterback Will Levis and SEC-leading returning rusher in check, as the Wildcats will have added motivation facing a No. 1-ranked team in their home stadium.

Georgia DE Tramel Walthour

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