2020 Georgia Football Primer: Bulldogs to bring the pressure with a veteran group of outside linebackers

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2020 Georgia Football Primer: Bulldogs to bring the pressure with a veteran group of outside linebackers

UGA OLB Azeez Ojular (13) | Georgia vs. Texas A&M - Second Quarter | Saturday, November 23, 2019
UGA OLB Azeez Ojular (13) | Georgia vs. Texas A&M – Second Quarter | Saturday, November 23, 2019

IMPORTANT UPDATE REGARDING UGA FOOTBALL’S SPRING PRACTICE:

Friday, March 13, 2020, 4:00 p.m. ET: The SEC announced that all organized team activities, including competitions, team, and individual practices, meetings, and other organized gatherings, will be suspended through April 15th. This includes spring football practices, scrimmages, and games.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020, 3:00 p.m. ET: The SEC has announced all regular-season conference and non-conference competitions are cancelled for the remainder of the 2019-20 athletic year This includes all spring football games and remaining SEC championship events, due to continuing developments related to the coronavirus.

On Monday we began the second half of our 2020 Georgia Football Primer looking at the defense starting with the inside linebackers. Today we look at the other half of the linebacking corps, the outside linebackers.

And the Bulldogs return all of their starters and playmakers at the outside linebacker position in 2020. A group that includes Adam Anderson, Robert Beal Jr., Walter Grant, Jermaine Johson, Azeez Ojulari, and Nolan Smith.

It’s a group that collectively combined for 95 tackles, 16 for a loss, but their specialty was getting after and affecting the quarterback with 13.5 sacks and over 71 pressures.

The OLB that seemed to live in the backfield the most is 6-foot-3 and 240 lbs redshirt sophomore Azeez Ojulari who led the team in sacks with 5.5, pressures with 34, and was second in tackles for a loss with 6. Ojulari signed with the Bulldogs as part of UGA’s 2018 recruiting class out of Marietta High School. He played in 14 games, starting 13 for Georgia last year. Ojulari will see the field a lot in 2020 but Nolan Smith will as well.

UGA OLB Nolan Smith (4) | Georgia vs. Baylor | Sugar Bowl, New Orleans, LA | Wednesday, January 01, 2020
UGA OLB Nolan Smith (4) | Georgia vs. Baylor | Sugar Bowl, New Orleans, LA | Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Smith played in 14 games as a true freshman out of IMG Academy. While Smith only had 3.5 sacks, he had 15 quarterback pressures. The 6-foot-3 and 235 lbs Savannah, GA native looks to build off that freshman season from last year in 2020.

Adam Anderson didn’t play as many snaps as Ojulari and Smith, but he did play in all 14 games for Georgia. When he was on the field, it was often on passing downs, and Anderson made some key plays for the Dawgs. H was third on the team in quarterback pressures with 18, had two sacks, and six tackles. After Grant, the 6-foot-5 and 225 lbs junior is UGA’s most experienced OLB having played in 28 games the past two seasons.

Speaking of Walter Grant, the former Cairo High School star decided to return for his senior season to finish his college career at Georgia. The 6-foot-4 and 245 lbs SAM linebacker is a load coming downhill. Grant played in 12 games in 2019, starting three, and over the last three years, has played in 41 games for the Bulldogs.

UGA OLB Jermaine Johnson (11) |  Georgia vs. Baylor | Sugar Bowl, New Orleans, LA | Wednesday, January 01, 2020
UGA OLB Jermaine Johnson (11) | Georgia vs. Baylor | Sugar Bowl, New Orleans, LA | Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Dawg fans got to know Jermaine Johnson last season. The 2019 JUCO transfer from Independence Community College is hard to miss at 6-foot-5 and 240 lbs. He played in all of Georgia’s 14 games last year and had 20 tackles along with 12 quarterback pressures and 2.5 sacks. Johnson can play either OLB spot at JACK or SAM.

We didn’t get to see Robert Beal, Jr. as much last year as he only appeared in four games and made eight stops, but the 6-foot-4 and 244 lbs junior looks to get back on track in 2020.

If you didn’t notice, with the exception of Beal, the outside linebackers all played a bunch of snaps. Joining the veterans will be 2020 signee Mekhail Sherman.

Sherman is a 6-foot-3 and 234 lbs four-star prospect out of St. John’s High School, Washington D.C. He was the lone linebacker signee for the Bulldogs in their most recent recruiting class and will join the team this summer after graduating from high school. Sherman will come in and get a chance to grow and learn but expect him to be a part of the rotation.

It’ll be a fun group to watch this season as they should be eating in the opponent’s backfield frequently. Up next, we take a look at Tray Scott’s defensive line on Wednesday.

2020 Georgia Football Primer Series:

I. Quarterbacks: Bulldogs look for a new field general under center

II. New offensive line coach Matt Luke tasked with replacing three starters

III. The next chapter in “Running Back U”

IV. Young and talented receiving corps led by George Pickens

V. Washington and McKitty join talented tight end group of FitzPatrick, Goede, and Seither

VI. Who has a leg up on special teams?

VII. Monty Rice leads a lean, mean inside linebacking corps

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The University of Georgia 1991-1994. Lanier Tech 2009-2012. Writer and graphic artist covering UGA athletics, college football, and recruiting. Peach cobbler fears me!