ATHENS – Move over David Pollack, Jordan Davis is coming in.
Davis, the Georgia Bulldogs’ bigger-than-life senior nose guard, became a national award double winner Thursday night, claiming both the Outland Trophy and the Chuck Bednarik Award at ESPN’s annual college football awards show in Bristol, Conn. That the trophies were handed to Davis one day after Pollack was honored as a National Football Foundation Hall of Fame inductee was a beautiful stroke of historical symmetry.
Pollack, who won the Bednarick, Lombardi, Ronnie Lott and Ted Hendricks awards – all in 2004 – and was also a three-time, first-team All-American and remains the most decorated defensive lineman in Georgia history. But Davis, who also was named an All-American on Thursday, now will be mentioned in the same breath as Pollack, Bill Stanfill, Richard Seymour and some of the other great defensive linemen who have come through Georgia.
Stanfill is the only other Georgia player to win the Outland (1968), which is presented annually to the nation’s most outstanding interior lineman. The Bednarik goes to the top defensive player as judged by the Maxwell Football Club.
Davis, Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh (2009) and Pitt’s Aaron Donald (2013) are the only players to win the Outland Trophy and the Bednarik Award in the same season. Davis also finished ninth in voting for the Heisman Trophy, the highest finish by a Bulldog since Champ Bailey finished seventh in 1998. The fifth-place through 10th-place results were revealed Thursday night.
Alabama coach Nick Saban called Davis “one of the most dominant players in college football” as the Crimson Tide was preparing last week to face Georgia in the SEC Championship game.
“He’s really hard to block,” Saban said. “He’s got great size. He’s very powerful, but he’s got really, good initial quickness, short-area quickness, and can push the pocket and pass rush. He’s about as good a player as I’ve seen for a long time as an inside player on any college football team.”
Such recognition is unusual as Davis plays a position that does not produce a lot of statistics. The 6-foot-6, 335-pound senior from Charlotte primarily lines up over the opposing center or in the “A” or “B” gaps and is charged with forcing double teams to tie up blockers so that Georgia’s inside linebackers and can move freely to make tackles.
Junior inside linebacker Nakobe Dean has been a major beneficiary of that strategy the past two seasons. Dean joined Davis as a first-team All-American selection Thursday and won the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker earlier this week and led the Bulldogs with 61 tackles.
Davis has 28 tackles this season, as well as 3.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, a safety and a blocked kick. He wowed fans and teammates this season chasing down running backs and quarterbacks outside the line of scrimmage. Davis also scored a rushing touchdown this season and got to conduct the Redcoat Marching Band on Senior Day at Sanford Stadium.
“Every day I try to live my best life no matter what I’m doing,” Davis, who surprised the NFL by returning for his senior season, said last week. “I’m just happy to be here. There’s not a lot of people in this position.”
Davis is a big reason the No. 3-ranked Bulldogs (12-1) led the nation in scoring defense (9.5 ppg), is second in total defense (254.3 ypg) and third in rushing defense (81.7 yards per game).
Senior offensive tackle Jamaree Salyer also received second-team All-American honors Thursday.
The Bulldogs will face No. 2 Michigan (12-1) in a College Football Playoff semifinal in the Orange Bowl in Miami on Dec. 31 (7:30 p.m., ESPN).
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