Roquan Smith is Georgia’s best defensive player and the junior inside linebacker is one of the team leaders. Smith will look to help Georgia’s defense slow down Baker Mayfield and the Oklahoma offense in the Rose Bowl and lead the Bulldogs to a win in the College Football Playoff semifinal.
The Rose Bowl kicks off from Pasadena, Calif. at 5:00 p.m. ET on Jan. 1, 2018.
Here’s everything you need to know about Smith:
1. Roquan Smith had an incredible regular season
Smith was everywhere for the Bulldogs in every game this season. Whether running sideline to sideline to tackle ball carriers for no gain or wrapping up quarterbacks in the backfield, Smith did it all for Kirby Smart and Mel Tucker’s defense. The junior inside linebacker finished the year with 113 total tackles, 10.5 for a loss, 5.5 sacks, 2 passes defended, 2 fumble recoveries, and 1 forced fumble.
2. Roquan Smith was the MVP of the SEC Championship Game
Smith dominated the SEC Championship Game from his inside linebacker position and was deservedly named MVP after Georgia defeated Auburn 28-7. He was involved in two of the biggest plays of the game, teaming up with outside linebackers Davin Bellamy and Lorenzo Carter to take the ball away from the Tigers twice. In the first half, Bellamy strip-sacked Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham, and Smith recovered. In the second half, Carter knocked the ball loose from Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson, and Smith recovered that one as well. He finished with 13 total tackles, 2 for a loss, the 2 fumble recoveries, 1 sack, and 1 other hurry of Stidham.
3. Roquan Smith racked up the postseason awards and received Heisman Trophy votes
Smith was a busy man during the week following the SEC title win. He won the Butkus Award in a surprise ceremony at Georgia’s year-end gala. Then he was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Then at least five different publications named him as a first-team All-America selection, resulting in a unanimous distinction for this season. Smith also received a few votes for the Heisman Trophy, including a couple first-place votes, as he finished 10th behind winner Baker Mayfield.
4. Roquan Smith originally committed to UCLA
Smith will play in the Rose Bowl after all after originally committing to play for UCLA during his senior season of high school. Smith committed to the Bruins on National Signing Day, but at the urging of one of his coaches, didn’t sign anything. UCLA coach Jeff Ulbrich, key in recruiting Smith, took a job with the Atlanta Falcons, and Smith ultimately went to Georgia, not actually signing a letter of intent to play anywhere.
5. Roquan Smith did not enjoy this Disneyland ride
Smith, along with fellow Georgia captains Nick Chubb and Isaiah Wynn and head coach Kirby Smart, rode a new Guardians of the Galaxy ride at Disneyland during the Bulldogs first full day in California. It looks like Smart and Wynn enjoyed it. Smith on the other hand, is holding onto Smart’s arm for dear life, and Chubb looks like his life is flashing before his eyes. Here’s the video:
— Georgia Football (@FootballUGA) December 28, 2017