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UGA Football Coach Kirby Smart Praises True Freshman Defender

October 26, 2023

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ATHENS - Kirby Smart and the Georgia Bulldogs signed the No. 2 recruiting class in 2023, and we’ve seen several true freshmen see more and more of the field this fall.

One freshman defender on the rise is former five-star signee, Damon Wilson‍.

An athletic, natural pass-rusher with a strong 6-foot-4 235-pound frame. A native of Nokomis, Florida and playing at Venice High School, Wilson appeared in Georgia’s last game against Vanderbilt along with five other games this season, making two total tackles. Smart spoke about the young defender this week and hinted that we could see more on Wilson sooner than later.

“Damon (Wilson) has shown great promise”, Smart said. I mean, he's a player that has ascended in the last two to three weeks in our eyes because he's worked so hard. I mean, he's down there on the scout team and they're coming in every day being like 'Damon is playing so hard down there.' He's given so much effort and he's given us a great look that you know, we rewarded him and played him more against Vandy because of the work that he did. He continued that into the off week and this week, so he's doing a good job." 

As a senior in 2022, Wilson made 94 tackles, 10 TFLs, 10 sacks, and two forced fumbles. He was ranked as the No. 20 overall prospect in the country for the 2023 class.


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About Florida

Florida (5-2, 3-1 SEC) is coming off a 41-39 road win over South Carolina, which featured a 10-point fourth quarter comeback. QB Graham Mertz, who ranks third nationally with a 76.2 completion percent- age, threw for a career-high 423 yards and three touchdowns in the win. The Gators are averaging 29.1 points/game and are giving up 20.0 points/game. They are -2 in turnover margin.

Bulldogs Again Among The Leaders In Scoring Defense

Since the arrival of Kirby Smart in 2016, the Bulldogs have featured talented defenses and twice led the nation in Scoring Defense. This season, Georgia is ranked seventh nationally allowing 14.0 points/ game. The Bulldogs return 12 players who have starting experience from a group that ranked fifth nationally in 2022 allowing opponents only 14.3 points per contest.

Did You Know? 

In the 101-game history of Georgia-Florida, 58 differ- ent QBs have started for the Bulldogs. A total of 15 have started at least three games versus the Gators, and the best record belongs to: Johnny Rauch who went 4-0 from 1945-48. Meanwhile Buck Belue (3-0 from 1979-81), Aaron Murray (3-1 from 2010-13) and Jake Fromm (3-0 from 2017-19) all won at least three games.

More Did You Know? 

The team with the most rushing yards had won 14 straight meetings, but that streak was snapped in 2020 when Georgia outgained UF 165-97 and lost 44-28. A new streak began in 2021 as #1 UGA won 42-20 (UGA- 239 rush to UF’s 100 yards).

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Top Georgia Performances vs. Florida

Rushing Attempts

47 – Herschel Walker, 1981 (192 yards); 37 – Herschel Walker, 1980 (238 yards)

Rushing Yards

239 – Charlie Trippi, 1945 (25 carries); 238 – Herschel Walker, 1980 (37 carries) 

Rushing TDs

4 – Robert Edwards, 1997 (26-124 yards); 3 – multiple, last by Knowshon Moreno, 2007 (33-188 yards)

Longest Rushing TD

89 – Tim Worley, 1985 (school record); 80 – Frank Harvey, 1992 


15 – Shannon Mitchell, 1993 (140 yards); 9 – Tony Small, 1998 (138 yards)

Receiving Yards

154 - Brock Bowers, 2022 (5 rec.); 140 – Shannon Mitchell, 1993 (15 rec.); 138 – Tony Small, 1998 (9 rec.)

Receiving TDs

2 – Jeremiah Holloman, 2018 (4-48 yards), Leonard Pope, 2004 (3-90); Her- schel Walker, 1980 (4-55 yards); Ulysses Norris, 1976 (2-14 yards)

Passing Attempts

65 – Eric Zeier, 1993 (36 comp.); 49 – Quincy Carter, 1998 (33 comp.) 

Passing Completions

36 – Eric Zeier, 1993, (65 attt.); 33 – Quincy Carter, 1998 (49 att.)

Passing Yards

386 – Eric Zeier, 1993 (36-for-65); 368 – Quincy Carter, 1998 (33-for-49) 

Passing TDs

3 – Jake Fromm, 2018; Aaron Murray, 2010; Matt Stafford, 2007; Buck Belue, 1979

Longest Passing TD

93 – Buck Belue to Lindsay Scott, 1980; 84 – M. Stafford to M. Massaquoi, 2007

TD Responsibility

5 – Ray Goff, 1976 (3-Rushing, 2-Passing); 4 – Robert Edwards, 1997 (4-R); Herschel Walker, 1981 (2-R, 2-P)

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