Georgia sophomore inside linebacker Nakobe Dean is starting to blossom into his role nicely as one of the young leaders of Georgia’s defense.
Through four games this season, Dean is ranked No. 3 on the team with 20 total stops. In 2019, Dean had 25 tackles in 14 games, and this season he’s already matched his tackles for loss total from a year ago.
The Horn Lake, Miss. native said his growth between freshman and sophomore year has helped him extremely well so far in 2020.
“I feel like I have grown tremendously, not just from a football standpoint but from a personal standpoint—just learning and going throughout life,” Dean said on Wednesday. “I am 19 years old, and I am still trying to figure a lot of stuff out.”
Dean said the pandemic helped him learn a lot about himself.
“Being able to continue to learn, definitely during this pandemic, I have had a lot of time to myself and just learning who I am and everything like that,” he said.
Dean has become a pivotal part of Georgia’s defense this season as he’s been used more than just a situational player. Alongside guys like junior Quay Walker and Monty Rice, the linebackers unit for the Bulldogs has been making a ton of plays in opposing backfields through the first four games.
Dean has been all over the field and has looked similar to former Butkus Award winner and Bulldog Roquan Smith. His speed and versatility show as a play progresses because he’s able to move from one side to the other in a matter of split seconds.
Even though Alabama’s high-powered offense exploited the Bulldogs in a lot of ways, that doesn’t mean the unit needs to change anything, and Dean agrees.
“They just out-executed us,” Dean said. “We just have to come back and look at the things we have to work on and fix them. Because we definitely can compete with them. We just gotta come back this week, fix it and know what we gotta do and work on it.”
He’s earned a lot of credit for the role he played last year in certain situations and packages. Dean, a former five-star product, came into the locker room and split time with lots of players older than him last season. Although he had limited playing time, Dean shined when he got the chance.
Now, the 6-foot, 215-pound second-year is already one of the more vocal leaders in the locker room.
“I feel like I have stepped into a leadership role during the offseason,” Dean said. “It’s not production-based at all, it’s how I can influence the other people on the defense and the team.”