Sophomore season shaping up as big one for Georgia's Jordan Davis

Georgia defensive lineman Jordan Davis (99) during the Bulldogs' game against Austin Peay at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. (Photo by Jim Hipple)
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Georgia defensive lineman Jordan Davis (99) during the Bulldogs' game against Austin Peay at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. (Photo by Jim Hipple)

Defensive coordinator Dan Lanning is not wishy-washy when it comes to his expectations for Georgia nose guard Jordan Davis this season.

“To whoop the guy across from him’s butt,” Lanning said when asked about Davis earlier this week.

That’s saying something considering the general expectation for a nose guard is just to tie. Holding one’s ground and tying up blockers is considered a success at that position as it allows linebackers to move freely to make plays from the second level.

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But the Bulldogs are expecting more from their 6-foot-6, 330-pound sophomore. Georgia is looking for Davis to dominate the interior along the lines of Alabama’s Quinnen Williams and Clemson’s Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins last season.

“That's what I’m expecting,” Georgia’s first-year coordinator said. “I hope I get a chance to watch that because that's what I want to see him do every snap. Obviously, he has to be in great condition to do that, great shape to do that. But Jordan has the potential to be a great player. He has to put that together every single day when he comes to work.”

Davis is the gift that keeps on giving for the Bulldogs. They signed him as a 3-star recruiting prospect out of Charlotte’s Mallard Creek High in 2018. But he provided 5-star impact as a freshman. After playing only sparingly or not at all in Georgia’s first six games last season, Davis burst onto the scene with a six-tackle performance on the road against LSU. Davis started the next week against Florida and in four of the next five games. He missed the Sugar Bowl with an injury and finished the season with 25 tackles, 1.5 sacks and 3 quarterback pressures.

Davis is well now, and in shape, too. Excess weight and subpar conditioning were issues holding him back early in 2018. He showed up from Charlotte tipping the scales at 355 pounds.

That is something Davis constantly must combat. But he evidently has that under control heading into this season, and his teammates have taken notice.

“Jordan Davis is in the best shape I’ve ever seen him in right now,” said junior offensive guard Ben Cleveland, who faces Davis every day in practice.

Added fellow guard Solomon Kindley: “He’s in great shape. To be honest, if Jordan Davis does what he does, he could be one of the best defensive linemen in the country. … He makes me better. Practicing against him is not like practicing against anybody.”

It’s probably a lot like practicing against Williams or Wilkins or Lawrence. Those guys were All-Americans last year. Davis’ play earned him freshman All-American honors last year. The Bulldogs believe there are greater achievements ahead.

“He's one of those guys,” Lanning said.

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