Georgia has relied heavily on freshman defensive end Travon Walker this season, but next year his role will receive increased pressure because the Bulldogs are set to lose five players on the defensive line after the Allstate Sugar Bowl versus No. 7 Baylor next week.
Seniors Tyler Clark, David Marshall, Justin Young, Michael Barnett, and Michail Carter will all play their last game for the University of Georgia on January 1st. And Walker will just be one of four defensive linemen coming back that has played in more than four games this season.
Walker has played in 11 of 13 games this season and he has really has found himself the latter half of the year for the Dawgs. Walker credits that to older players like Marshall and junior Malik Herring, who have really helped him develop his game in the film room and on the practice field.
Walker was voted to the Freshman All-SEC team and named the co-winner of the team’s Defensive Newcomer of the Year alongside freshman teammate Nolan Smith. He finished the season with 12 total stops, 1.5 sacks and an assisted tackle for a loss with eight total quarterback pressures.
His most memorable moment of the season was against Auburn on the Tiger’s final offensive play from scrimmage. Tiger’s quarterback Bo Nix dropped back to pass and Walker came flying in to record the sack. That play sealed the victory for Georgia on the plains and helped the Bulldogs clinch the SEC East for the third straight year.
Several times throughout the year Kirby Smart has credited Walker for what he’s been able to do on the field. In Smart’s eyes, he doesn’t see Walker, or guys like Smith, as freshmen anymore. To Smart, they have come in and worked hard, learned the defensive schemes, and have made an immediate impact. Smart is trying to build the future of Georgia’s defense, and with guys like Walker, it has made it easier along the way.
After Georgia’s 37-10 loss to LSU, Walker seemed eager to get back on the field to start preparing for the bowl game and next season.
“It’s big. It starts now though,” Walker said. “That’s why it’s going to be very big because it starts now. We want to start back working hard,” he continued. “We’re going to be in the lab trying to improve and make our defense stronger every day. The offseason starts now.”
Georgia is set to face the Baylor Bears in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on January 1st, 2020 at 8:30 p.m. ET in New Orleans, LA.