Three Georgia football positions defined by their valuable returnees

Nolan Smith celebrates a fumble recovery. (Photo by Steven Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images)
Nolan Smith celebrates a fumble recovery. (Photo by Steven Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images) /
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Georgia football
Robert Beal Jr. reacts after a play against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. (Photo by Adam Hagy/Getty Images) /

The Georgia football linebackers

Georgia football lost three linebackers to the NFL Draft in Nakobe Dean, Channing Tindall, and Quay Walker, but the Dawgs return two guys who were the fourth and fifth members of this havoc-driven group.

When Robert Beal Jr. and Nolan Smith announced they were returning for one more season, it became clear the linebackers were in good hands and would have the proper leadership in 2022. Some consider Smith a defensive end, and while he can play with his hand in the dirt, he can also play linebacker.

Beal led the Dawgs in sacks after he took over when Adam Anderson left the program in the middle of the season. While he played in all 15 games, his snap count significantly increased. Beal finished the season with 6.5 sacks, 7.5 tackles for loss and 19 quarterback hurries. Those numbers were with limited reps, but in 2022, he will likely start, so those stats should improve.

Smith finished 2021 with 56 tackles, nine tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, one interception, one fumble recovery, three forced fumbles, a blocked kick and 27 quarterback hurries.

He was a force for the Dawgs in 2021 and now will lead the wolfpack to another great year.

These two guys are Georgia’s experienced linebackers and the only two upperclassmen. Rian Davis and MJ Sherman are sophomores, and they have minimal experience. Davis was hurt last year and didn’t play but one game. Sherman did record eight tackles this past season but was behind the likes of Beal and others, so 2022 will be a better opportunity for him.

The Dawgs did have a solid 2021 recruiting class that contributed some last season. Guys like Smael Mondon Jr., Jamon Dumas Johnson, Xavian Sorey Jr. and Chaz Chambless are already making their names known.

Last season, Dumas Johnson recorded a pick-six, 2.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and 22 total tackles. He will be one to likely get some starting reps in 2022 and have a big season.

The linebackers are young, but with Smith and Beal returning, these youngsters will have the leaders they need to grow and takeover themselves once the two veterans leave.