ATHENS – Georgia football’s toughness – both physical and mental – has set it apart from its competition in 2022.
It’s an integral part of the team’s identity, something that the group both embraces and declares with pride.
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Linebacker Chaz Chambliss is yet another example of that for UGA. The pad-popping sophomore is exactly the type of player the Bulldogs need on the field to combat Kentucky’s physical brand of football 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 last two years what’s the most physical game they’ve played in, to a man, almost every one of them talks about how physical the Kentucky game was two years ago up there and then at our place last year,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said.
Mix in the expected freezing temperatures with an aggressive run game for an atmosphere that will demand toughness from Chambliss and the UGA defense.
Physically and mentally tough football is nothing new to the young linebacker, though. That’s something Chambliss has been around since playing for Carrollton High School, long before his arrival in Athens.
“I just learned hard-nosed football,” Chambliss said. “Practice, we were only one side of the ball, so I practiced just like I do in college. Maybe not to the same extreme extent but learning how to go through practice and how to carry myself.”
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Chambliss carried that same mentality into his recruiting 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 not fazed. He committed to Georgia in the summer before his senior year and simply decided to stick with it.
“Going into my senior year, I said, ‘I’m committed to Georgia,’” Chambliss said. “’I’m not going to talk to anyone else. I’m going to focus on my season.’
“I wasn’t much into recruiting when I was in high school. I was just there to play ball and see the team that I would best fit into.”
Chambliss fits pretty well into the Georgia team culture, 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 pec muscle. Chambliss believes that so far, he and fellow linebackers Robert Beal, Marvin Jones Jr., and MJ Sherman have upheld Smith’s standard.
The Carrollton native, who was sidelined by a hamstring injury of his own 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 game yet. The Wildcats have struggled throwing the ball this season, but behind running back Chris Rodriguez have proven capable of moving the ball on the ground.
No matter if it is slowing Rodriguez or taking down Kentucky quarterback Will Levis, Chambliss is ready to tackle whatever Kentucky throws at him.
“Whatever the situation is, it’s football, no matter what,” he said. “You look past conditions, you look past how you feel, and you play the game.”