If Georgia wants to win the national championship, the Bulldogs will need to generate more pressure against Alabama quarterback Bryce Young than they did in the SEC Championship. The Bulldogs got back to their dominant ways against Michigan, thanks in part to Nakobe Dean.
Dean has been Georgia’s best defensive player this season acting as the quarterback of the defense. His defensive awareness, speed and instincts make him one of the top linebackers in the country. Dean won the Butkus Award this season, given to the nation’s top linebacker.
“Nakobe has improved in his coverage ability in my mind,” said defensive coordinator Dan Lanning. “He’s really taken pride in being an explosive blitzer. And he’s created a lot of havoc plays with that, the way he’s played. The physicality that he plays with, this guy tackles in practice and he works really hard to practice to be a good tackler. I think that’s something he’s improved on and you seen.”
Dean’s ability does not stop on the field either. He is also a mechanical engineering student with a 4.0 GPA, which makes sense when you consider that he is basically the brains and play-caller of the defense.
But how does a potential first-round NFL draft pick balance his importance on the field with his academics off of the field?
“Well, it’s hard,” said Dean on Saturday. “I am not going to try to sugarcoat it. It’s been a lot of long nights. A lot of times where I don’t get that much sleep. But you have to try to find your balance.”
“I feel like the things that I tackled in college from a time-management standpoint and just a real-world standpoint, leaving home… has matured me into the young man I am today.”
The Bulldogs will need their All-American linebacker to be at his best on Monday night. Alabama is a physical and fast team, and Georgia learned the hard way on Dec. 4.
Dean’s performance in the Orange Bowl was stellar, racking up seven total tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack. With a chip on the team’s shoulder and plenty of film to sort through on what went wrong, Georgia fans should expect Dean as well as the team’s other leaders to be on their toes.
“As far as this game, it’s the national championship,” said Dean. “This is the national championship. Feel like everybody should be prepared to play at their best level, at their highest clip. And like I said before, the only thing that we’re focused on is winning. No matter how we get it done, we’ve just got to get it done.”