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Nolan Smith Set to Have a Big 2022 Season

Ahead of a big season, Nolan Smith is working with one of the best pass rush coaches in the country.

The return of Nolan Smith to Georgia this offseason could prove to be a big money-making move this time next year. The former No. 1 overall prospect in the 2019 recruiting class out of IMG Academy came to Athens with hopes of establishing himself as a premier pass rusher. 

After waiting his turn and developing behind the scenes for much of his first two seasons, the former five-star prospect played behind the likes of Azeez Ojulari and Jermaine Johnson. The transferring of the latter following the 2020 season lightened up the competition for Smith ahead of his junior campaign, where he'd have to replace Azeez Ojulari as Georgia's JACK linebacker. 

As the primary starter at JACK, Smith recorded 56 tackles and 3.5 sacks. Not the eye-popping numbers that you'd expect from a former No. 1 overall prospect. Yet ultimately it could work out in Georgia's favor as the former Savannah, Georgia, native returned for a senior season as he believed he could boost his stock. 

With the official roster listing the senior at six-foot-3, 235 pounds, there are significant questions about his length and ability to keep on the weight he needs to play with off the edge. His pass rush needs improvement, however, Smith showed consistency when setting the edge as a run defender. 

Without the help of Jordan Davis and DeVonte Wyatt anchoring down the middle of Georgia's defense next season, having disciplined edge defenders will be key to preventing explosive running plays. Next season, fellow senior Robert Beal will join Smith as the top two edge-rushers on Georgia's defense. In addition, they will get help from the ultra-versatile defensive tackle Jalen Carter. 

Despite not being able to work on-campus with outside linebackers coach Chidera Uzo-Diribe at this moment in time, Nolan Smith is working this offseason with Chuck Smith, otherwise known as "Doctor Rush." Chuck Smith is a known developer of top-class edge rushers and works with numerous current NFL players, including Von Miller and Bud Dupree, and he has even worked with Aaron Donald. 

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It's safe to say no one is in better hands than Nolan Smith this offseason as he prepares for his senior season, where not only will he continue to be a vocal leader on Georgia's young defense, but will he assume the role as Georgia's top edge rusher. 

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