Dan Lanning expects a big year from junior nose tackle Jordan Davis

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Dan Lanning expects a big year from junior nose tackle Jordan Davis

Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning during spring practice in 2018.
Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning during spring practice in 2018.

Georgia junior nose tackle Jordan Davis has become one of the most polarizing defenders in the SEC over the last two seasons and has improved immensely over that time frame.

Even though his numbers don’t stand out, his 6-foot-6, 320-pound frame sure does when an opposing quarterbacks gets set on the line of scrimmage. Davis has been one of the team’s best defenders since his freshman year, but the Georgia coaching staff expects a lot more out of him this season.

“I have really high expectations for Jordan. Jordan’s worked really hard,” defensive coordinator Dan Lanning told reporters via Zoom on Friday. “Tray Scott does a phenomenal job, (he) and coach Williams, do a great job with his development. But Jordan, I think, is really hungry. There’s just not a lot of people born in this world that look like Jordan Davis, right? So when you look like that there’s an expectation. I expect him to really achieve at the highest level this year, have a phenomenal season, and really help our team and our defense.”

Just before the bye week in 2018, Davis got a chance to play meaningful snaps and made an immediate impact. He became a key part of Georgia’s run defense that year. Davis ended up playing in 11 of 14 games while starting four of them. He finished with 25 total stops, and had a great game against Georgia Tech as he recorded a tackle for loss, plus a sack in Georgia’s win. He was named to the Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-America Team and Coaches Freshman All-SEC Team that year.

Davis sadly suffered an injury against Alabama in the SEC Championship game, and that caused him to miss the Sugar Bowl against Texas. After that injury, Davis saw his weight trend the wrong way. Before the start of his freshman season he reported to camp overweight, but cut it down as the year went on.

Davis worked hard and dropped weight during the spring of 2019 and was back in football shape prior to last season. He proceeded to total 18 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks last season. His biggest effort came in Georgia’s 24-17 win over Florida where he assisted on a 10-yard sack on Kyle Trask.

Unfortunately weight problems is something that Davis has always struggled with, and head coach Kirby Smart made a comment about it prior to spring drills this year.

“Weight is always going to be a struggle and a fight for him,” Smart said back in March. “When you say you’ve seen him, he’s ready to play, I don’t know if you’ve seen him lately, but he’s got to be ready to play. He’s got to control his weight and he’s done a really good job of having weight discipline thus far in his career. He’s got to continue to do that.”

Apparently Davis has come into fall camp this year in great shape and is ready to play. For the first time in his UGA career, he won’t have to share the spotlight. Michael Barnett was a key contributor in each of the last seasons but has graduated and moved on. Fifth-year senior Julian Rochester might get some reps, but Davis is the best option in the middle for the Bulldogs’ defensive front.

Michael Barnett was a key contributor for the Bulldogs in each season. Julian Rochester, who is now a fifth-year senior, also played some nose tackle in 2018. For better or worst, Davis is the man in the middle for the UGA defensive front. In fact, finding the guy who can spell him might be one of Lanning and company’s biggest challenges during camp. 

No wonder Lanning is giddy to see what the former three-star product can do this season. The way he explained it, this is Davis’ year to really shine and reach his full potential. The Charlotte, N.C. native has a chance to really improve his draft stock in 2020.

“When recruiting him, we just saw natural talent, natural ability, intelligent kid, great mom,” Smart said last season. “Just a wonderful kid. He still hasn’t reached his full potential and that’s the hardest part for him to acknowledge because he’s very athletic for a large man. We got to get the most out of him.”

Jordan Davis (99) takes down Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond during the second quarter in Georgia's 19-13 win last season.
Jordan Davis (99) takes down Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond during the second quarter in Georgia’s 19-13 win last season.

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Currently an intern for BI, and a junior journalism major at the University of Georgia.