Travon Walker’s freakish athleticism on full display in Georgia debut

Travon Walker-athleticism-Georgia football
Travon Walker made his debut on Saturday for Georgia.

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Travon Walker displays athleticism in a number of way in Georgia football win

ATHENS — From just about the time he stepped on campus, we’ve heard just about everyone gush about Travon Walker’s athleticism. Just about every offensive lineman made a comment about Walker’s athletic gifts.

And the guys facing him weren’t the only ones gushing about the 6-foot-5, 290 pound defensive end from Thomaston, Ga.

“Travon is extremely athletic, is strong, he’s really an athletic guy for his size; obviously has the basketball history as a high school player, so I’m definitely excited to see what he can do,” Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning said. “He’s a guy that’s good moving but he’s also strong enough to hold the point. So, I don’t think I would put a ceiling on Travon.”

Related: Homegrown 5-star Travon Walker resets a recruiting narrative at UGA

In his senior year at Upson-Lee High School, he played middle linebacker during the football season and then threw down windmill dunks on the hardwood.

Walker’s athleticism is a big reason why he was a 5-star recruit and the only one freshmen defensive lineman to travel to the Vanderbilt game. But given the experienced depth in front of him on the defensive line, it was fair to wonder if Walker would be able to showcase his often discussed athleticism in the season opener.

But it didn’t take long to do so. Walker, at 290 pounds, was a member of Georgia’s kickoff team. And during the second quarter, he registered a tackle on special teams. The next biggest Georgia player on the kickoff team is linebacker Walter Grant, who is listed at a mere 245 pounds.

“That dude is a freak,” defensive tackle Jordan Davis said. “I watch a lot of college football and it’s very rare to see a defensive lineman run on a kickoff. He’s covering and he made a tackle on kickoff.”

Georgia coach Kirby Smart has made it a point that he’s going to put his best athletes on special teams. Roquan Smith and Sony Michel both did so in their time at Georgia prior to becoming first-round picks.

And Walker fits that same special teams mold.

“He’s one of the best 11 guys we put out there,” Smart said. “He’s extremely athletic, he’s got spatial awareness, he understands blocking schemes, he’s hard to block and he runs fast. So, we want the best 11 players we can put on our special teams and he’s one of them.”

Walker wasn’t just relegated to special teams on Saturday, as he did get on the field for the Georgia defense. He came into the game in the first quarter, working on Georgia’s third-down package.

Related: Winners and losers from Georgia football win over Vanderbilt

Walker was on the same side of the line as fellow 5-star freshman Nolan Smith. If those two continue to grow and develop, they’re going to become a major problem for opposing defenses. On their first play together, Walker occupied two offensive linemen thanks in part to his impossibly long arms, which allowed Smith to drag down Vanderbilt quarterback Riley Neal down from behind.

Maybe you’re not blown away by the absurdity of someone of Walker’s size sprinting over 50 yards at some poor kick return blockers. Well, Davis dropped a number that should really open your eyes to the athletic marvel that is Walker.

“It’s so much fun to see him,” Davis said. “He’s lighting fast. I think he ran something like 19 miles per hour in the game.”

Three Bulldogs land in the top 20 of 2020 NFL mock draft

Georgia has one of the top teams in all of college football. And that is largely due to the talent Smart has compiled together in his time in Athens. That talent should also have an excellent chance to shine at the next level.

The Bulldogs have produced four first-round draft picks in the past two NFL drafts, and that number figures to only grow in the coming season.

Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller had three Bulldogs going in the top 20 picks of his 2020 NFL Mock Draft. Miller had offensive tackle Andrew Thomas going to Denver Broncos with the No. 9 overall pick. Thomas — who was named the SEC’s Offensive Lineman of the Week — is the first offensive tackle off the board.

Related: Rodrigo Blankenship, Andrew Thomas earn weekly SEC honors

The next Bulldog to be picked was quarterback Jake Fromm. Miller slotted Fromm to the Tennessee Titans with the No. 12 pick. Fromm is rated as the No. 3 quarterback, behind Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Oregon’s Justin Herbert. Fromm completed 15 of his 23 passes against Vanderbilt for 156 yards and a touchdown.

The third Bulldog to be taken in Miller’s mock draft was D’Andre Swift. The running back is pegged to go to the Baltimore Ravens with the No. 17 pick. Miller has Swift as the top running back on his board.

“Swift, who ranks as the top running back in a deep class, is an Alvin Kamara-like back with power, speed, soft hands and excellent balance through contact. He’s the modern NFL blueprint at the position,” Miller wrote.

The junior shined in Georgia’s win over Vanderbilt. On 16 carries, Swift had 149 yards. Six of those carries went for at least 10-plus yards.

All three of those players are juniors, meaning they would have another year of eligibility. There is a world where all three could end up coming back to Georgia for their senior seasons.

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