UGA defender on freshman LB Nakobe Dean: ‘He’s another Roquan’
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The Nakobe Dean-Roquan Smith comparisons keep coming for Georgia football
A number of former Georgia football players were at practice on Tuesday. Recent players like Isaac Nauta and Deandre Baker, likely taking a break from their prep for the 2019 NFL Draft, were watching some of their former teammates. Other older names, like Jarvis Jones and John Theus were also observing the Bulldogs.
And tucked away on the far side of the practice field, was former Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith. The star of the 2017 team was naturally with the inside linebackers, watching along as his former position coach Glenn Schumann instructed a number of young and promising players.
And to hear Georgia defensive tackle David Marshall tell it, Smith was watching perhaps the next Georgia superstar in freshman linebacker Nakobe Dean.
“He another Roquan. He’s got speed, he’s fast. He’s smart. He already knows more plays than most of the other freshmen,” Marshall said.
Kirby Smart didn’t quite drop the Roquan label, but he did praise how Dean has impressed in his first few spring practices.
“One guy who has done some good things is Nakobe Dean. He’s very intelligent,”Smart said. “He’s very instinctive and he’s going to challenge some guys. He’s got to continue to grow and learn.”
Obviously this comparison is pretty popular and easy to see. Dean is one of the jewels of the 2019 recruiting class, and Georgia had to win a fierce recruiting battle to win the services of the 5-star linebacker from Horn Lake, Miss. on the first day of early signing period. Smith was a big-time pull in the 2015 class, as the Bulldogs famously landed him after he put on UCLA gloves on National Signing Day.
DawgNation’s Jeff Sentell asked Dean and Smith’s high school coaches to compare the film of the two standout linebackers when they were coming out of high school.
And Dean’s coach high school coach — Brad Boyette — can see the vision.
“I’m sitting here looking at this film of Roquan here,” Boyette said, with exasperation. “Then I’m looking at Nakobe and I have to take a second and sort it all out. I’m looking at these films and I swear at times I can’t really figure out which one is which.”
“This is sort of fun. But at the same time, it is almost a little scary. There are a lot of similarities. I have to catch myself with ‘Ok this is Roquan again’ and then ‘This is Nakobe’ here.”
But let’s pump the brakes ever so slightly on hyping up Dean. It’s fair to out point that Smith, as great as he was as a Bulldog, didn’t have a stellar freshman season. He was largely a special teams player in his first season in Athens, and finished with just 20 tackles.
Dean also has quite a bit of competition in front of him. Junior linebacker Monty Rice returns for the Bulldogs, as does senior Tae Crowder. Those two have taken significant reps at the position. There are also sophomores in Channing Tindall and Quay Walker, who were similarly hyped prospects in the 2018 recruiting class. The biggest difference between Dean and the 2018 duo is that Dean was able to enroll early and get reps during spring practice.
Georgia didn’t exactly replace Smith a year ago, even if it had someone in Baker who took up that star-player mantle. It’s still looking for the next dominant inside linebacker that Alabama always seems to have, as the Crimson Tide seems to churn out elite NFL linebackers every other year.
It’s not a stretch to envision Dean as a star linebacker. For the most part, the recruiting rankings are a fairly decent indicator of star, or at least NFL draft, potential. But it’s a lot to expect out of a freshman, especially at inside linebacker. Dylan Moses of Alabama — a 5-star linebacker that was seen as a generational talent when he signed with the Crimson Tide in 2017 — didn’t see significant reps until the end of Alabama’s 2017 season. And that was really only due to a number of inside linebackers getting injured ahead of him.
If Dean does become a significant contributor or even starter at the inside linebacker position this year it will mean one of two things: Either the linebackers in front of him — Tindall and Walker specifically — aren’t all they were hyped up to be. Or Dean really might be the next Roquan Smith, and just be a truly transcendent talent.
Georgia baseball falls to Georgia Tech
The No. 4 Georgia baseball team lost to rival Georgia Tech on Tuesday night by a score of 11-2. The game, played at Georgia Tech’s Russ Chandler Stadium, was called off in the seventh inning due to rain in the Atlanta area.
The loss moves the Bulldogs 21-4 on the season. The loss ends a six-game winning streak against Tech dating back to the 2016 season, as the Bulldogs swept the three-game series against the Yellow Jackets in each of the past two seasons.
Georgia took an early lead, but things unraveled when they turned to the bullpen. Georgia led 2-1 when starter Tim Elliott left the game after 4 1/3 innings. Georgia’s relievers surrendered 6 runs in the fifth inning alone, giving the Yellow Jackets a 7-2 edge by the time the third out was record.
Georgia Tech added on 4 more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to push the lead to 11-2. Georgia scored both of its runs in the opening inning, as the Bulldogs got three doubles to start things off. But the team didn’t score another run off of Georgia Tech starter Amos Willingham after that.
“We’ve had success against Tech in the past but that doesn’t carry over to this game just like this game won’t carry over to the next one in Athens or when we play them at SunTrust,” Georgia baseball coach Scott Stricklin said after the game.
Georgia will get another crack at Georgia Tech on April 9, when the Bulldogs host the Yellow Jackets at Foley Field. The two rivals will meet for a third time on April 23, when the two sides play at SunTrust Park in Atlanta.
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