It’s almost impossible to escape what was Georgia’s 2021 national championship run. It’s hard to let go of greatness, and 2021 was as great as you could ask for. The defense was generational, to say the least, and it was led by one of the greatest defensive lineman groups to ever grace the University of Georgia. With them gone it leaves fans wondering how this year’s group will compare. But after last Saturday’s scrimmage, Coach Smart didn’t see or say much that fans would look forward to. Except for what he had to say about junior defensive lineman Jalen Carter.
In interviews, post-scrimmage, Coach Smart emphasized that he wasn’t impressed with the defense’s overall performance but was keen on talking about Jalen Carter’s development, saying, “He was overshadowed by the other two (Jordan Davis and Devonte Wyatt); he wasn’t overshadowed talent wise by any means.”
The Florida-native is projected by many to be a top-10 NFL Prospect in next year’s draft and is handling the expectations well, according to his head coach, “He’s been the most mature he has.” In regards to maturity, we haven’t heard much about his vocal leadership on the defense, but Smart raved about the way Carter has shown ability to assess himself and his practice. His ability to be honest with himself and the coaching staff sounds to be a good sign of greatness to come, “He can admit to you and be honest with you when he doesn’t give great effort. He’s like, ‘you’re right Coach, I didn’t do my best on that play’. But that happens much less often now.”
With just a couple of months separating him and an NFL paycheck, Carter hasn’t appeared to let up either. The football world knows he’s great, but he doesn’t let that affect his work ethic. Complacency is never an option, especially when Kirby Smart is your head coach, and Carter continues to prove that in the way he practices. Coach Smart explained, “Most practices he’s given us a full day’s work…He competes like he’s hungry.”
Coach Smart and the rest of the staff believe in Jalen Carter and his abilities, going as far as to say that he was at the least just as talented as Jordan Davis and Devonte Wyatt (mentioned earlier). We’ll have to watch how Carter finishes what looks like his last year in Athens and how he translates his productive practices into destructive gameplay.