ATHENS — Georgia freshman defensive tackle Jordan “Big Baby” Hall, one of the young players Kirby Smart is counting on, will take his first steps against SEC competition on Saturday.
The No. 1-ranked Bulldogs play host to an upset-minded South Carolina team at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, and Hall will be part of the plan to pressure the Gamecocks’ star quarterback, Spencer Rattler.
“Jordan has helped us in third down situations,” Smart said this week, “(and) rotational play.”
Hall indicated last summer the plan was for him to take on some of the pass-rushing snaps formerly received for Bear Alexander, who transferred to USC last summer.
Smart and his defensive staff have done their part to give Hall opportunities to develop through the first two games against UT-Martin and Ball State, as his 48 snaps are 10 more than any other defensive tackle has played.
The Georgia head coach spoke of Hall and Jamaal Jarrett on his coaches’ show on Thursday night when asked how the freshmen were breaking in, which figures to be one of the keys to the future.
“They are both working really hard, they’ve been with us and competed since last spring, they were mind-year enrollees,” Smart said.
“It’s really hard physically to play offensive (or) defensive line as a freshmen, you don’t find it very often because there’s a certain level of weight room that’s involved in that.
“It’s 80 percent weight room and 20 percent skillset, where the other (positions) are probably 80 percent skillset and 20 percent weight room.”
Hall, a 6-foot-4, 310-pound 5-star prospect, has the potential to be Georgia’s next “Great” interior defensive tackle and develop into a first-round NFL pick.
Hall admitted he had to get used to practicing at a championship-level tempo in spring drills, and obviously he has handled that assignment or he wouldn’t be getting so many steps.
Smart explained that Jarrett, 6-5, 350, has had more challenges to overcome.
“He’s right around 350 — and he’s gone down to get to 350,” Smart said, referring to the same sort of weight challenges as another notable North Carolina defensive tackle recruit — Jordan Davis — once had.
“He might argue right now he’s 345, and we’re going to keep knocking it off him. He’s getting better, I love watching him go and compete.
“Jamaal had a couple injuries; when he first got here he had to have the tightrope deal on his ankle, that set him back, and he’s had a wrist, so he’s had some injuries since his arrival.”
But Jarrett, like Hall, is making the sort of strides necessary to grow into a future dominator.
Indeed, Smart has said more than once the jury is out as to just how forceful this season’s defensive front can be with Jalen Carter moved on to the NFL.
“I don’t think we know that yet,” Smart said. “I don’t know that we can measure it based on what we’ve seen so far.”
This season’s No. 1-ranked Bulldogs are just 49th in the nation in run defense after leading the nation in rush defense last season and ranking No. 2 the season before.