ATHENS — Georgia football coach Kirby Smart doesn’t leave much to chance when it comes to his football program, most every decision and action is carefully considered and thought out.
Smart’s choice to bring quarterback JT Daniels and nose tackle Jordan Davis to the SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala., is the most recent example.
The four-day SEC Kickoff Event serves as the unofficial end of the offseason, and the start of the preseason, with coaches from all 14 schools appearing along with two players.
Here are three things about Smart’s selection to represent the program:
1. Daniels will dazzle
The quarterback is a team leader by the nature of the position, and certainly, Daniels is no different as he has already exhibited such traits under trying circumstances. It’s one thing for players to talk about handling adversity and being team players, but it’s another for them to exhibit it when circumstances don’t play out in their favor.
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Daniels is a great story in that sense, as he supported teammates and stayed focus throughout the first six games of the season even as he didn’t play and was limited to working with the scout team. Further, Daniels handled his time on the transfer portal in model fashion, laying low on social media and not becoming a distraction for his former team or the teams recruiting him.
Daniels’ performance warrants the interest he is drawing, as he is the highest-rated returning QB in college football from his Nov. 21 performance onward. ESPN sideline reporter Cole Cubelic called Daniels one of the “most impressive sit-down interviews” he has run across. No doubt, in addition to his football skills, Daniels knows how to carry a conversation, and he will be a big hit at the media event.
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2. Davis will entertain
Smart counts on Jordan Davis to anchor what has become the most dominant defensive front in college football, the Bulldogs leading the nation in rushing defense each of the past two seasons despite playing in the SEC.
But beyond the physical presence the 6-foot-6, 340-pound Davis casts — the cameras are sure to find him early and often next Tuesday — there’s a warm smile and a wonderful story of a former 3-star prospect who found Georgia and prospered.
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Smart’s renowned as a recruiter, reeling in numerous 5-star prospects to lead high-ranking classes. But Davis was a 3-star prospect who has developed into a bona fide Outland Trophy candidate within the Georgia program.
Davis comes by his fun-loving personality naturally, and he will quickly become even more of a media favorite and represent the Bulldogs’ program well. After all, there aren’t many 300-pound plus football players who can dance like Davis. Does he dare bust a move?
3. Multiple options
Daniels and Davis were the obvious choices for the head coach to bring to Alabama, but they certainly were not the only ones. Georgia football has several great leaders, as Smart has alluded to, and many of them are also comfortable in front of the cameras.
Offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer would have been an easy pick as the third player to bring had the teams not been limited to just two players. Salyer is a team leader and a great program spokesman. And, while Davis anchors the front, Nakobe Dean is the heartbeat of the defense. Dean displayed tremendous leadership throughout the offseason even while limited by a torn labrum. The head coach has complete trust in Dean’s ability on and off the field.
Safety Lewis Cine is another Smart protege who is on his way to stardom. Cine, like the aforementioned players, knows his way around the interview microphone. If anything, Cine is a bit too humble, particularly after laying down what was arguably the most devastating SEC hit of the new millennium on Kyle Pitts last season. It was a clean hit until Pitts ducked into it.
All in all, it’s a Georgia team that looks and sounds just as good off the field as on the field.