Freshman outside linebacker Walter Grant continues to impress.
So much so, that Kirby Smart acknowledged Tuesday that the freshman from Cairo is being groomed to ultimately be the successor for senior Lorenzo Carter.
“He's really bright, really smart, similar to Lorenzo in a lot of ways,” Smart said. “He’s maybe not as twitchy as Lorenzo, but very intelligent, and picks up things well."
At 6-foot-4 and 245 pounds, Grant isn’t quite as tall as the 6-foot-6 Carter, either, but he’s already being counted on to play many of the same roles.
Including, replicating Carter’s occasional duty at Star.
"I mean, we've got to have a guy that can do it if Lorenzo is not there,” Smart said. “He's been repping there for several weeks. So, he's kind of Lorenzo's backup when it comes to that.”
Smart expecting opponents' best shot
The way Smart sees it, his fifth-ranked and undefeated Bulldogs are already getting the best shot from opponents.
“I think everybody always wants a piece of Georgia because of the history of the program,” Smart said. “It’s a signature win for so many regardless of what you’re ranked. It just makes it even more so (when you are ranked).”
Otherwise, it’s not a big deal.
“We don’t really talk about that with the team. We talk about controlling what you can control, which is getting better and playing good ... taking out the mistakes we’ve made the last two or three games so we can increase our chance of success,” Smart said. “We don’t talk about what we’re ranked or if somebody else’s effort is going to be greater based on what we’re ranked. We’re really just focusing on us.”
Freshman Justin Shaffer drawing plaudits
Grant wasn’t the only freshman to draw praise from Smart.
Second-team left guard Justin Shaffer did, too.
“He has on and off days,” Smart said. “He’s a freshman. It’s high and low at times but he shows a lot of promise. He’s got a lot of physicality, he plays with good pad level.”
He’s also dropped some weight.
According to Smart, Shaffer has dropped 45 pounds since arriving on campus, a loss which has helped him solidify his spot on the second team.
“I think it’s hard when you go from playing every snap in high school to being a backup fighting for a job, just sometimes you don’t know how to prepare the right way. But he’s gotten better at that,” Smart said. “He never knows when he’s going to go in. If we get a lead, he’s going in. Sometimes he’s an injury away from possibly starting. But he’s got good pad level and I think he’s going to be a good player. It’s important for Justin to play well.”
Freshman offensive lineman Netori Johnson missed his second straight day of practice, but Smart expects him back as early as Wednesday.
Smart wasn’t so sure about linebacker Reggie Carter, who came out with what sources say was a concussion that he suffered in Saturday’s 41-0 win at Tennessee.
"Netori's been a little dinged up. We think we're going to get him back tomorrow because he was in full uniform today, getting some exercise,” Smart said. “Reggie, we still don't know on. He's day-to-day. We weren't able to get him to go today."
• It’s sounding more and more like defensive back Rashad Roundtree may not be back with the Bulldogs.
“Rashad is still dealing with some injuries and different things. He's not been out there for a while,” Smart said. “Still hoping to get him back but may not be able to. We'll wait and see on him."
Smart expressed sympathies to Las Vegas shooting
Smart began his press conference by expressing his condolences to the victims of the mass shooting in Las Vegas that at last report killed 59 people and wounded over 500.
“I’d like to express sympathy for the victims of the (Las Vegas) shooting,” Smart said. “What a terrible tragedy and a sad event. It keeps things in perspective, especially for us in our busiest time. It makes you realize there’s so much more important things going on in the world than football. I hate that for their families.”