Georgia’s Jordan Davis a finalist for Outland Trophy

Georgia defensive lineman Jordan Davis (99) is lifted into the air by running back Zamir White (3) and offensive lineman Justin Shaffer (54) after scoring a touchdown in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Charleston Southern, Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, in Athens, Ga.. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Caption
Georgia defensive lineman Jordan Davis (99) is lifted into the air by running back Zamir White (3) and offensive lineman Justin Shaffer (54) after scoring a touchdown in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Charleston Southern, Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, in Athens, Ga.. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Credit: John Bazemore

Credit: John Bazemore

ATHENS -- A day after Georgia learned that linebacker Nakobe Dean is a finalist for the Butkus Award, the Bulldogs found out that nose guard Jordan Davis is a finalist for the Outland Trophy.

The Outland is awarded annually to college football’s best interior lineman on offense or defense. The Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) selected the three finalists from among the six semifinalists announced last week.

The other two finalists are offensive linemen: tackle Ikem Ekwonu of North Carolina State and center Tyler Linderbaum of Iowa. Defensive tackles have won two of the past four Outland awards (Alabama’s Quinnen Williams in 2018 and Houston’s Ed Oliver in 2017).

The winner will be announced on The Home Depot College Football Awards on Dec. 9 (7 p.m., ESPN).

Davis’ designation as an Outland finalist continues a streak of good vibrations coming Davis’ way. On Saturday, the 6-foot-6, 335-pound senior scored his first collegiate touchdown when coach Kirby Smart let him play running back with the Bulldogs on the goal line against Charleston Southern. After the game, Davis lived out his dream of conducting Georgia’s Redcoat Marching Band from the drum major’s stand. That came only after he was made an honorary member of the Redcoats, complete with a plaque the actual uniform.

So, it has been a good week for Davis. But Tuesday’s designation rewards Davis for his work on the football field. That has been exemplary as Davis serves the No. 1-ranked Bulldogs’ primary run-game clog in the middle of the defense. That defense enters Saturday’s regular-season finale against Georgia Tech No. 2 in the nation in yards allowed per game (236.3), No. 2 against the run (77.2 ypg) and No. 1 by more than a touchdown points allowed (7.5 pg).

Only one other Georgia player has won the Outland Trophy. That was NFL and College Hall of Fame defensive tackle Bill Stanfill, who won the award in 1968. Offensive tackle Andrew Thomas was a semifinalist in 2019.

Davis’ defensive statistics won’t blow away anybody. He heads into the Tech game with 23 tackles, two sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss. But he has recorded nine quarterback hurries, made jaw-dropping tackles on the perimeter and also blocked a field-goal attempt.

“It’s hard to quantify,” Smart said of Davis’ impact. “He has this personality that people embrace. If you don’t know him, you’ve missed out. I wouldn’t say that he’s the best-kept secret now, but he probably was for three years. He’s just funny, has a great sense of humor, great work ethic, great leadership. He cares. He stands up and tells the team how much he cares about them and how he’ll do anything for them.

“I’m really proud by the way he’s handled this season because a lot of guys, when they come back, they don’t necessarily handle things the right way. He’s done that.”

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