AUBURN, Ala., Georgia saw first-hand yesterday how important it is to have a 5-star defensive lineman on the field. Not so much because of Auburn's Derrick Brown who did indeed make things miserable for the Georgia offense. But because of Georgia's own former 5-star prospect in Travon Walker.
The freshman from Thomaston, Ga., made the biggest play of the game for Georgia, as his fourth-down sack of Bo Nix officially ended Auburn's comeback. And that game-clinching sack displays exactly why Walker had such a lofty ranking as a high school prospect.
Walker began the final play lined up between the center and left guard. He then looped all the way around the offensive tackle on the right side of the line, going completely untouched while doing. Nix never had a chance.
The play was made possible by Walker's overwhelming athleticism. It's easy t0 see why Walker was also a high school basketball and track star as well.
Travon Walker ( @D1Figure_) with the SAAAAAACCCCCKKKKKK!!!!!!
Hiro Katsuki (@KatsukiFB) November 17, 2019
Plays like the one above are why Georgia coach Kirby Smart has said multiple times that Georgia has to find ways to get Walker on the field more.
"He's probably one of our better overall football players. We've got to find ways to use the kid," Smart said. "He's talented. And we've got to do a better job as coaches of finding avenues to help us, because he's extremely athletic."
Georgia is finding other ways to get the massive freshman on the field. Walker is a member of Georgia's kickoff unit. Imagine those poor souls on kickoff return who have to try and block the 6-foot-5, 290-pound specimen while he's running full speed.
Smart learned firsthand the dangers of colliding with Walker on Saturday, as he did a chest bump with his standout freshman after the sack. Smart who looked like a crash test dummy as he went flying to the ground was thankful that he didn't tear his ACL in the process.
Alison Mastrangelo (@AlisonWSB) November 17, 2019
It's worth pointing out that part of the reason Walker hasn't been able to get on the field more is that the defensive linemen in front of him have been outstanding. Between Tyler Clark, Malik Herring and Jordan Davis just to name a few the defensive line has morphed into one of the best units on the team.
Auburn learned that the hard way on Saturday, as the Tigers were held to a season-low 84 rushing yards. Things got so dire that Auburn had Nix attempt 50 pass attempts. That's the most ever by an Auburn quarterback under Gus Malzahn.
The Tigers did do one thing that no other team had against Georgia. Nix's 3-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter was the first touchdown run the Bulldogs had given up all season. The Bulldogs will just have to rest on the fact they have the SEC's best rush defense and the nation's No. 2 scoring defense.
For as much recruiting success as Smart has had at Georgia, the defensive line was one area where he hadn't landed the big fish yet, prior to signing Walker a year ago. In the past, Georgia missed on the likes of Brown and Tennessee's Aubrey Solomon, who both hailed from the state of Georgia.
With Walker on the team, it's now crystal clear why Alabama and Clemson have dominated college football as they have. When you have multiple difference-makers like Walker on your defensive line, you're going to win a lot of games.
Walker couldn't stop smiling while Georgia celebrated on the field following its 21-14. Maybe it was because of his sensational play and the fact that Georgia had just clinched its third-straight SEC East title.
Or it could be because he's beginning to put everything together and become a disruptive playmaker for the Bulldogs. And that should be a frightening thought for the rest of the SEC.
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