When asked about Jordan Davis, Georgia inside linebacker Monty Rice lowered his head and flashed a grin.
He quickly put his hand over his face, because Rice is stoic and doesn’t like to show emotion during sessions with the media. But this instance made it tough to hide, and Rice perked up about the freshman nose tackle.
“Jordan Davis had a pretty good game Saturday,” Rice said with a substantial pause to follow. “He’s young and still developing, but I think he could be really good for us.”
Davis had his first highlight opportunity against Vanderbilt. He had only one tackle, but it was one of the most crucial in the early stages of the game. The Commodores tried to convert a 4th-and-1 play and Davis played a part in making the stop.
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Now, Georgia needs more of those from Davis. At the season’s midway mark, the Bulldogs are challenged with more injuries as David Marshall, Daquan Hawkins-Muckle and Devonte Wyatt are all questionable for Saturday’s game at LSU.
Marshall suffered a foot injury against Vanderbilt and Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said it “doesn’t look good” for the junior to play against the Tigers. Sophomore Malik Herring and graduate transfer Jay Hayes will work together to fill the void. Each of the these defensive linemen are significant contributors.
Davis, on the other hand, lacks the experience. The freshman from Mallard Creek, N.C. is listed at 320 pounds and was challenged by Georgia head coach Kirby Smart to shed some weight. Davis slowly did so, became more game-ready and worked his way from scout team in a matter of weeks.
He will play a substantial number of snaps due to the uncertainties of Hawkins-Muckle and Wyatt.
“He’s worked the hardest to get where he is,” Smart said. “A lot of guys as freshmen got to come in, and they were two on the depth chart, or three, or they got to play, or they played on special teams. This kid has grinded. He’s grinded himself into a very productive player, a hard-to-block player.”
Once a potential redshirt candidate, Davis will now be on the team plane. He has participated in four-of-six games, with the exception being the road trips to South Carolina and Missouri. These circumstances, however, call for Davis to see less time on scout team and prepare to travel to Baton Rouge to face LSU.
Davis has a total of eight tackles on the campaign, but does more than what appears in a box score. He provides an assist to the linebackers by giving space and holding blocks on opposing linemen.
“I think he’s good at holding that double team, not getting bounced out there,” Rice said. “That’s a tough job. That’s like 700 pounds bumping against you, and you have to hold him. I think he does a good job of that, especially when he’s fresh.”
Based on stature and his role on the defensive line, a comparison could be made to former nose tackle John Atkins, who was known for doing the “dirty work.” Davis’ talents, however, are slightly different.
Nevertheless, the freshman has left an impression on his teammates after looming toward the back of the depth chart in August.
“Jordan is kind of like that big, just big presence. He can’t really be moved,” Ledbetter said. “And even if he is getting moved a little bit, it doesn’t really look like it. It’s kind of like he’s there, and will always be there just in the way.”