Zion Logue has come a long way to step up for Georgia’s defense

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Georgia’s 2021 defense has been raved about since leading the Bulldogs to their first national championship in 41 years. Names such as Jordan Davis and Butkus Award winner Nakobe Dean, among others, were credited as the leaders of the gifted defensive group.

Defensive lineman Zion Logue was one of the lesser-known impact players for the Georgia defense last season. As a reserve last season, he recorded 11 tackles, including one for loss, and a sack. Now he is the starting nose guard. That’s a long way from being a scout-team player.

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Coach Kirby Smart has instilled a growth focus into his team, and that has bled over into Logue’s effort on the field.

“Max-effort guy, (Logue) epitomizes what the culture of this program is,” Smart said.

Physical player, great listener, hard worker, selfless – those are all descriptors Smart used to refer to Logue. According to Smart, he has grown tremendously as an athlete because of his patience. Logue was in a reserve role his first three seasons with the Bulldogs, but he was rewarded with an even more prominent role this season.

“I don’t even know where to begin with Zion (in terms of his growth),” Smart said. “He’s been a guy that sat behind the studs we had last year forever.”

Logue was on the scout team learning from 2022 NFL draftees Jamaree Salyer and Justin Shaffer. So, Smart uses Logue’s patience as an example for some of the younger players, such as freshman linemen Bear Alexander and Christen Miller, as they develop their craft on the scout team.

Yet, there were other moments of growth for Logue. In 2019 – his first season with the Bulldogs – he had to go up against a stacked offensive line in practice each week. That line featured NFL draftees Ben Cleveland, Solomon Kindley, Trey Hill, Cade Mays and Isaiah Wilson.

“When you look across and you see that line, it’s nothing more that can prepare you for SEC football,” Logue said. “In my first two years, I tried to make myself into a run-stopper, and I felt like (playing against those guys) is what built me into who I am today.”

Because of his areas of growth, now Logue can contribute to Georgia’s dominant defense as an experienced veteran. The Bulldogs have allowed only a single touchdown through three games. Logue understands his role in pressuring opposing offenses, as Smart utilizes that pressure as a focal point for a smothering defense.

“Pressure plays a big role in every game we play now,” Logue said. “Everybody wants to make us one-dimensional, so when their quarterback is sitting there having all the time in the world, we have to find ways to get pressure on him.”

Players such as Dan Jackson and Stetson Bennett, as well as Logue, have bought into Smart’s developmental process and were rewarded for their efforts. Logue emphasized that he and Jackson are good examples for those who come after them.

“It’s (about) getting respect from your peers,” Logue said. “When you see guys like Jackson, who has worked his tail off from Day 1. He was a silent guy who just kept his head down and worked. So, when you see that, it’s like, ‘I’m gonna depend on him and trust him.’”

Even in his long tenure with the team, Logue still is his own biggest critic, as he still looks for further growth, much to the delight of Smart. He said he wants to navigate opposing blocking schemes more effectively.

“That plays hand-in-hand with everybody because everybody from every group has something to work on,” Logue said.

His experience has placed him in a leadership role for Georgia, as he mentors the younger players that are following in his footsteps.

“(My biggest area of growth comes in) leading by example,” Logue said. “Also, whether it’s cheering my guys on or leading by example – actually striking (opposing players), actually running to the football, knowing my assignments. I feel like that plays a big role in people listening to you and if they’ll take you serious or not.”