If You’re Good Enough, You’re Old Enough

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If You’re Good Enough, You’re Old Enough

Heading into this season, one of the overarching themes for the defending National Champions was “If you’re good enough, you’re old enough.” After losing 15 players to the NFL Draft, it was unquestioned that Coach Smart was going to rely heavily on production from underclassmen. Many national pundits and analysts believed this would be a serious concern for Georgia, but the Dawgs once again are proving that they don’t rebuild; they reload.

Malaki Starks is one of the many new players embodying this message. The true freshman from Jefferson, Georgia, is a unique talent proving to be one of the more impressive athletes in the entire Country. It only took Georgia’s number 24 two series to announce himself as a force for the defending National Champs. Starks looked like a true freshman in making his acrobatic interception against Oregon and former Auburn Tiger Bo Nix. In his first game as a Bulldog, Starks lead the Dawgs in tackles and is currently second on the team through four games with 17. He is also tied for the team lead in interceptions with two.

Jamon Dumas-Johnson is another underclassman making plays on the Georgia defense. The sophomore is a tackling machine who has stepped into Nakobe Dean’s position and become the leader of the UGA defense. In an ugly win against Kent State last week, Dumas-Johnson, or “Pop” as he is known around the team, led the Dawgs in tackles with 6 and racked up 2 sacks with 3 tackles for loss. The Inside-Linebacker is a name not many people had heard of before the season, but he sure is living up to the Georgia standard at linebacker that we have become accustomed to seeing.

It is also not hard to forget that number 19, who lines up in the Georgia offense at about every position imaginable, is only a sophomore. Bowers is probably the best athlete in the Country and has more games left in Athens than he has played. Brock has already gained the reputation as one of the best players in the Country and is even considered a Heisman candidate.

Kirby Smart and the Bulldog’s coaching staff have built a team and a sustainable culture, even if younger players are called to duty. There will be chatter every year about the Dawgs losing players to the NFL, but due to the recruitment and development of 4 and 5 star players, the Georgia program is truly built on a “next-man-up” mentality. The expectation is that there will be no drop-off in performance, even if that next man is a freshman or sophomore. The Dawgs, like any top team, will always have early departures to the NFL. Georgia’s young players must therefore be “good enough” to maintain the standard of excellence the program has set under Coach Smart. After four games, no one seems to be criticizing the youth and relative inexperience of some of Georgia’s key contributors. As Smart would say, they are old enough.

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