UGA Football roster: Nolan Smith ready to take over the SEC

Nolan Smith had an impressive true freshman season for UGA football while playing one of the most difficult positions in the SEC.

Being an edge rusher in the SEC is hard work. This conference not only has some of the best offensive linemen but some of the best blocking running backs and tight ends as well. Add in some quarterbacks with quick arms and the edge-rushing job might be the toughest in the entire conference.

So when a freshman enters the league and harasses quarterbacks on a weekly basis, you should probably make note of the name and number. Nolan Smith, is a future superstar. Which shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. After all, Smith was the No. 1 overall player in the 2019 class and an early enrollee for UGA football that spring.

Smith did show his youth at times last year. There were moments where linemen would push him around and he would just get lost in a pile of players around the line of scrimmage. That’s bound to happen for a freshman, who was somewhat undersized at 6-3, 235 lbs.

As Nolan Smith continues to work in the weight room and on the practice field, he’s going to start looking like a potential No. 1 overall draft pick. He had good-but-not-great power at 235 lbs., but what is he going to look like at 245 lbs. or more? He has the frame to carry the weight. As an edge rusher, Smith has played like a bully since high school. Smith is at his best overpowering and plowing through opposing blockers.

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Smith is more than just an edge rusher these days. In Georgia’s 3-4 defense, Smith transitioned from defensive end to outside linebacker. The new role includes more than just taking on linemen to get into the backfield. Smith took this challenge in stride and is becoming a great all-around defender, not just a great pass rusher.