Kirby "Fired Up" About Nolan Smith and Jermaine Johnson

March 26, 2019

ATHENS - Kirby Smart’s excitement about the potential of two of his pass rushers was hard to miss on Tuesday. 

“I am fired up to coach those two guys,” Kirby said of newcomers Nolan Smith‍ and Jermaine Johnson‍. “I see hunger out of both of those guys. I am excited to see what they are going to do to the guys in front of them from a pushing stand point.”

UGA outside linebackers: you have been warned. 

Both considered top prospects in the country, Smith and Johnson took different paths to UGA. Smith spent last season playing for IMG in Florida, while Johnson traveled Kansas playing junior college football. 

Kirby said both still have a ways to go in terms of their totally understanding what to do on the field. But he says both Johnson and Smith can’t be missed.

“They don’t know exactly what to do yet, but, man, they do it hard,” Kirby said Tuesday. “There is something to be said for that. We are going to play kids at the University of Georgia that give effort, play hard, do the right things and those two guys… they play hard. Now they don’t know what they are doing yet. That’s our job. I am very thankful that they are here 15 practices.”

The Bulldogs struggled to get a pass rush that Smart and company were satisfied with last fall. He pointed that out last week:

“We want to increase our havoc rate on defense. That’s one of the main target areas. We want to be more disruptive. And the only way you’re going to be more disruptive is practice being disruptive. So we have to do that. We have to create more lost-yardage plays, more negative situations and that’s something we’ve really worked on.”

Smith and Johnson could be one key to that, Kirby said Tuesday. 

“Nolan has flashed. He made a hell of a hit today, and a really good play. He’s also flashed some ‘What are you doing?’ Jermaine has been the same way. We call them Superman plays where you are going: ‘Man, who is that guy? Who is that jersey number?’ But they are lost some, too.”

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