Defensive end Garrison Smith might be the lone returning starter on Georgia's defense next year after earning a starting job with his strong play.
Garrison Smith doesn't get the usual plaudits handed out to members of the Georgia defense that will soon be making millions in the NFL. A junior, Smith isn't expected to be one of the many Bulldogs leaving early this season. But as Seth Emerson of The Telegraph in Macon, Ga., writes, that could mean Smith is in line to be the leader of a young Bulldogs defense next season.
Smith is starting at defensive end after sharing time there earlier in the season. He only has one sack, but he has 55 tackles and his time as a starter coincided with when Georgia's season started to gain steam. That hasn't gone unnoticed by Georgia's coaches. Defensive line coach Rodney Garner handed out some praise to Smith:
"Garrison really came along, really improved, stepped his game up to another level. (I'm) very encouraged."
With the Bulldogs set to lose seven seniors next season, Smith's time to shine might come soon. And with three others considering early exits to the NFL, Smith could be the lone man standing from the starting defense next year.
The No. 6 Georgia Bulldogs meet the No. 23 Nebraskas Cornhuskers on New Year's Day in Orlando, Fla., for the Capital One Bowl. The game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. kickoff.