ATHENS – The tenacity of Georgian football – both physical and mental – has set it apart from its competition in 2022.
It’s an integral part of the team’s identity, something the band proudly embraces and declares.
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Linebacker Chaz Chambliss is another example for UGA. The pad-hopping sophomore is exactly the type of player the Bulldogs need on the field to battle Kentucky football’s physical mark on Saturday in Lexington, Ky.
Georgia will face a Wildcat offense that has established itself as one of the most physical programs in the SEC.
“When you ask our kids over the past two years what’s the most physical game they’ve played, for a man, almost every one of them talks about how physical the Kentucky game was two years ago. up there, then back home last year,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said.
Mix the expected freezing temperatures with an aggressive running game for an atmosphere that will demand tenacity from Chambliss and the UGA defense.
However, physically and mentally tough football is nothing new for the young linebacker. It’s something Chambliss has done since playing for Carrollton High School, long before he arrived in Athens.
“I just learned hard football,” Chambliss said. “Training, we were just one side of the ball, so I trained like I do in college. Maybe not to the same extreme extent, but learning how to train and how to stand.
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Chambliss has adopted this same mentality in its recruitment process. The former 4-star prospect, like so many other members of the 2021 recruiting class, was ready to start cashing in on official visits when the COVID-19 pandemic halted all on-campus visits.
The 6-foot-2, 250-pounder was unfazed. He committed to Georgia the summer before his senior year and just decided to stick with it.
“Going into my senior year, I said, ‘I’m committed to Georgia,'” Chambliss said. “‘I won’t talk to anyone else. I’ll focus on my season.
“I wasn’t very keen on recruiting when I was in high school. I was just there to play ball and see which team I would fit in best.
Chambliss is fitting into Georgia’s team culture quite well, especially in recent weeks as he continues to fill in for star linebacker Nolan Smith, who will miss the rest of the season with a torn pectoral muscle. Chambliss believes that so far he and fellow linebackers Robert Beal, Marvin Jones Jr. and MJ Sherman have lived up to Smith’s standard.
The Carrollton native, who was sidelined with a hamstring injury earlier in the season, had four tackles against Tennessee and three more with a sack against Florida.
Kentucky’s hard-nosed approach could provide Chambliss’ best statistical play yet. The Wildcats have struggled to throw the ball this season, but behind running back Chris Rodriguez has proven capable of moving the ball on the ground.
Whether that slows Rodriguez or eliminates Kentucky quarterback Will Levis, Chambliss is ready to take on anything Kentucky throws at him.
“Whatever the situation is football, no matter what,” he said. “You look beyond the conditions, you look beyond how you feel, and you play the game.”