Earlier this week I was having a conversation with one of our long-time readers and commenters, “WalkedtheDawgWhisky,” about defensive lineman Julian Rochester. A senior entering the 2019 college football season, Rochester sustained an ACL injury to his right knee in one of UGA’s last two games at the end of the 2018 season that required surgery to repair, He was cleared to practice and participated with the team during Fall Camp but has seen limited playing time so far this season which head coach Kirby Smart was questioned on, on more than one occasion. For example, during a post-practice press conference back on October 1st.
“He’s cleared and he’s working his way back. He’s out there competing. Julian (Rochester) is progressing and getting better. He had an ACL injury which happened a little later than most of our ACLs. He’s continuing to work,” said Smart. “When he’s ready to play and he’s better than the guys he’s going against, the guys that he is behind, then he’ll play.”
“Whiskey” posed the question as to whether or not Georgia would consider redshirting Rochester?
I could have sworn Rochester had participated in more than four games this year, which would make him ineligible, but low and behold, after digging through each of the participation reports for the ten games played this season so far, Rochester had only played in two, which were Tennessee on October 5th and then Florida on November 2nd. That, therefore, makes Rochester eligible to take a redshirt if he so chooses.
And under the NCAA’s revised redshirt rule, he could play in two more games this season, as long as he does not play more in four, and still be eligible to qualify for a redshirt.
“College athletes competing in Division I football can participate in up to four games in a season without using a season of competition, the Division I Council decided this week at its meeting in Indianapolis.”by Michelle Brutlag Hosick | June 13, 2018
The question of whether or not Rochester redshirting came up in the Tuesday post-practice press conference. UGA football head coach Kirby Smart said that it something they have thought about since the beginning of the year.
”Maybe we’ve been thinking about that the whole time. That’s kind of what we’ve been working towards. It’s not set yet because we don’t know how many games we’ve got left,” said Kirby. “He did a great job in the Tennessee game, when Jordan (Davis) went down. He filled it and he’s done a great job contributing. But it’s something that we’ve thought about since the beginning of the year.”
Rochester signed with the University of Georgia out of McEachern High School and Mableton, GA as part of the Bulldogs 2016 recruiting class. He played in 13 games and started six of them as a true freshman during the 2016 season tallying 36 tackles and two quarterback sacks. The following year, as a sophomore, Rochester would participate in each of the Dawgs 15 games for 2017, making 22 stops and sacking the quarterback twice. Rochester would take a bigger role in Georgia’s defense as a junior, staring 12 of the Bulldogs’ 14 games where he had 31 tackles and a sack. It total, Rochester has compiled 91 tackles and 5 quarterback sacks along with 8 tackles for a loss in 44 games for UGA over the last four seasons so far.
If Rochester does redshirt and returns to UGA as a fifth-year senior in 2020, he will help bolster a d-line that stands to lose at least five seniors which includes defensive ends David Marshall and Justin Young along with defensive tackles Michael Barnett, Michail Carter, and Tyler Clark.