It’s now time for part three of our four-part series where we chose Georgia football player of the year by class. Today we choose the Dawgs’ top sophomore.
The Dawgs were loaded with young talent in 2016, including nine sophomores who either started or made a significant contributions. I’m going to cop-out on this one, because two players really stood above all the others.
Dawn of the Dawg Sophomore(s) of the Year:
Smith was truly the leader of the Bulldogs’ defense in 2016. He was the most consistent player on the defense, flying from sideline-to-sideline and was seemingly in on every tackle. He has a nose for the ball and when he zeroes in on a ball-carrier, he’s not afraid to deliver the boom.
Smith led the Dawgs in tackles in five different games in 2016, including each of the last four, and racked up 13 tackles in each of the final two games. His 95 tackles led the team and ranked sixth in the SEC. He also tallied five tackles for loss, forced two fumbles and recovered one.
After seeing limited playing time as a highly-touted freshman from Montezuma, Ga., Smith started 10 of Georgia’s 13 games and flourished as the will linebacker in Kirby Smart and Mel Tucker’s 3-4 scheme. You heard it here first: Smith will be a first-team all-SEC selection in 2017.
“Big Trent” finally had the game people were waiting for in the Liberty Bowl victory over TCU. The Albany, Ga.-native terrorized the Horned Frogs, racking up eight tackles and three sacks on his way to earning Liberty Bowl MVP.
Thompson was third on the team with 56 tackles and also had 9.5 tackles for loss. And he also was tied with Davin Bellamy and Lorenzo Carter for a team-leading five sacks, which was also tied for 10th most in the SEC.
But everything Thompson does doesn’t always show up in the stat sheet. He was a true disruptor on the line-of-scrimmage and was unblockable at times. You can bet he will earn some first-team all-SEC votes at next season’s SEC media days.
More from Dawn of the Dawg
- Georgia Football: Top 5 Nick Chubb Moments at Georgia
- Georgia Football: Know the enemy UAB Blazers
- Nick Chubb is America’s running back, and he will return
- Georgia Football: Should laundry list of injuries be a cause to panic?
- Georgia Football: Report cards for Week 3 game against South Carolina
Sophomore of the Year Honorable Mention:
Patrick is the thumper on Georgia’s defense. He was second on the team with 59 tackles and he and Smith will anchor the middle of the Dawgs’ defense again in 2017.
Baker took over the starting corner job from Juwan Briscoe and never it looked back. Baker got two interceptions in 2016.