Former Georgia Players Unconvinced Alabama Doesn’t Still Run College Football

Getty Several former Georgia Bulldogs wouldn't commit to saying the Bulldogs have surpassed the Alabama Crimson Tide as kings of college football at the 2023 NFL Combine

While speaking to reporters at the 2023 NFL Combine (h/t Rivals’ Jed May), several former Georgia players couldn’t bring themselves to say that Alabama doesn’t still run the sport of college football.

Linebacker Nolan Smith, a projected second-round draft pick according to CBS Sports, had an animated response to the question of whether or not Georgia has surpassed Alabama as the class of the sport on . “Alabama is a great team, man,” Smith said. “I’m smarter than that, man. You’re trying to set me up for failure. Nick Saban is one of the best coaches ever. Are you crazy? They will always be a contender; they will always be in it. I’m gonna stand up here and not say RTR, but I’m just gonna say they’re a great program. If anything, Bama and Georgia are equally equivalent at the time. I wouldn’t even say that — they have more rings than us.”

Smith’s fellow teammate and draft hopeful from the Georgia linebacker room, Robert Beal Jr., had a more reserved reaction (h/t’s Tom Green) — though he wouldn’t commit to saying that the Crimson Tide have fallen behind the Bulldogs. “(Alabama) could beat you at any time,” he said. “I feel like we’re real high up on the pedestal. I feel like teams are really chasing us. I feel like over the years we get better and better, and now we’re just up there.”

Nolan Smith Defended Georgia Teammate Jalen Carter

Smith made headlines at the 2023 NFL Combine with a 4.39-second 40-yard dash, but his Georgia teammate and top defensive lineman draft prospect, Jalen Carter, was absent due to having allegedly raced his 2021 Jeep Trackhawk against the 2021 Ford Expedition driven by recruiting staffer Chandler LeCroy and Bulldogs offensive lineman Devin Willock — the latter two of whom perished in a single-car crash on January 15. Carter was present at the crash according to the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Smith defended Carter at the Combine in an aggressive manner. “I just want to go ahead and clear this up right now to y’all, JC is just misunderstood,” Smith said. “He is probably one of my favorite teammates to play with. He’s one of those guys I just look to my left and nod my head. He already knows we’re on the same page. I love pass rushing with him. Being around him in the locker room around him, he’s an amazing friend, an amazing guy to work out. If you can’t question somebodies character… if you question my character, that’s an insult and I hope you’re ready to fight if you question my character.”

Carter was deemed the No. 1 draft prospect by ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. before he was implicated in the fatal crash of a former Georgia teammate and support staff member.

Analyst Puts Nolan Smith Combine Performance in Perspective

CBS Sports’ Tyler Sullivan effectively framed Smith’s NFL Combine performance by comparing it to several skill position players who’ve reached the top of the league.

“What makes this run even more remarkable is that not only was Smith’s time better than his fellow edge rushers, but it was better than a trio of All-Pro players who are currently in the league,” Sullivan wrote. “Smith was faster than both Arizona’s DeAndre Hopkins and Buffalo’s Stefon Diggs when they were coming out of college. Diggs ran a 4.46-second 40-yard dash at the 2015 combine, while Hopkins clocked in at 4.57 seconds, well behind Smith. Oh, and he was also faster than Giants star running back Saquon Barkley, who ran a 4.40.”