You don’t win a national championship without a lot of talent and the 13 representatives of the University of Georgia at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine is proof of that. Yeah, 13.
Of those 13, eight of the prospects are on defense. It’s a unit that held the Alabama Crimson Tide to just 18 points in that title game—a Tide offense that had been averaging 39.9 points per game last season. Overall, the Georgia defense allowed an average of just 268.9 total yards per game to opponents—just 79.3 on the ground.
It’s no wonder eight of those players warranted combine invites.
Go back in the last few drafts and you’ll see the Georgia program has produced the likes of Monty Rice, Azeez Ojulari, and Roquan Smith, all of whom are making their mark at the next level now.
So what is it about a Kirby Smart defense that so well equips these players?
“Playing at the University of Georgia is very different because at the University of Georgia we play a lot of different defenses,” said edge Travon Walker in Indianapolis. “And so, therefore, you can be scattered all out on the field from playing a five-technique, a four-i, an under front, you can play a three [technique] so you’re really doing everything to just expand your resume. It’s really a good thing that you can do all of that. Playing defensive end at University of Georgia, that means a lot.”
You can practically hear the pride in being from the ‘University of Georgia’ jumping off the page, can’t you? As far as I can tell from talking to multiple players at the combine, Georgia’s diverse scheme is that ‘it’ factor in why these players have the potential to translate so well to the next level.
“I feel like I could be a great fit in any defense,” said inside linebacker Nakobe Dean. “At Georgia, we were able to run 4-2-5, 3-4, 4-3. We ran all different types of personnel. I feel like I just had to get in with the system, run it, and now I can thrive in any one of them.”
Not only does Georgia run all different schemes, they require their players—no matter their position—to understand the entirety of those schemes. Every level.
“We kind of learned it all in stride,” Dean said about being introduced to aspects of Smart’s system. “Being in high school it was more, go to the ball, it was feeding off the guys you had. But I constantly had to learn cover zero to cover nine because [smiles] I didn’t play man, so I didn’t know anything.”
That scheme begins with the coaches of course, from Smart on down. It thrives on four core principles, according to Dean: toughness, composure, resiliency, and connection. That provides a baseline for all players—and staff—to follow.
Inside linebacker Channing Tindall recalled a time inside linebacker coach Glenn Schumann helped him along when he was first getting adjusted to playing football for the Bulldogs.
“It was kind of natural,” Tindall said of his transition. “But one thing Coach ‘Shoe’ also taught me, one thing I used to do a lot when I was younger is over-pursue the ball […] just read it at the hip. Lock it in at that hip. Wherever that hip goes, I’m going.”
This staff has full command of the scheme they’re executing and as a result, has the respect of their players. These guys truly see their coaches as experts.
“He talks about his analytics, his brain, he’s one of the smartest guys I’ve ever met,” Tindall continued of Schumann. “As a co-defensive coordinator, he has so many different creative ideas.
“I have a complete coach.”
A scheme that works, coaches that connect with players, and a whole lot of talent. That’s playing football at the University of Georgia.
It’s a great place to come from—great coaching staff, staff in the building in general,” said Walker. “It just means a lot. It’s a family-hood.”
- Mar 11, 2022
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