The 2023 Georgia Football Signing helped return the outside linebacker to a future powerhouse

It is not safe at this point that the outside linebacker is not up to previous standards. Nolan Smith’s season-ending injury put the center stack in real trouble, with most of the picks going to Robert Bell and Chazz Chambliss.

Bell and Smith are leaving for the NFL next season, making it imperative for Georgia to go out and add quality prospects who can add depth and assist right away.

“When we were at our best, we had a lot of speed and athleticism in that room, trying to get back into it,” Smart said. “Hopefully these guys can do that and provide some defensive help as well when it comes to playing 4-3 and having guys out there.”

Related: Georgia football winners and losers from the 2023 early signing period

In year one, outside linebacker Chidera Uzo-Diribie did just that, as the Bulldogs signed Damon Wilson, Sam Mbemba, and Gabe Harris to the position. Harris may play defensive end, but all three are helping to upgrade the talent in the room.

“It’s one of those deals where we have to add some depth, and we have to have players who can play early for us in those positions,” said Smart.

Harris and M’Pemba were teammates together at the IMG Academy this past season, while Wilson starred in top-ranked Florida. It is the highest rated in the entire Georgia signing class, as Wilson is the No. 17 player overall in the On3 Consensus rankings.

While being interviewed by ESPN after choosing Georgia over Ohio State and Alabama, Wilson explained that being able to play early was a factor in his selection of Georgia. Of the two outside linebackers, he’s probably the one closest to being able to help Georgia next season. Georgia running back Chambliss is likely as well as promising freshman Marvin Jones Jr. MJ Sherman will be entering his junior season.

Related: 5-star EDGE Damon Wilson is a Georgia Bulldog!

The Bulldogs have moved Darris Smith on occasion this season, playing freshman with occasional defensive backs. Inside linebacker Jalon Walker took reps with the group as injuries mounted.

M’Pemba is on the brink of 5-star status as it is a potential 34th overall. He’s new to the position, having grown up playing football and having spent the early part of his high school playing tight end.

He’s crude with Smart’s words but has as much talent as anyone in the class.

“He’s a tremendous talent when it comes to sports,” Smart said. He’s going to have to learn how to play the position as well because he’s kind of played all over the place as a footballer.”

Related: Sam M’Pemba: What you need to know about the Georgia 4-star footballer

While many will be excited to see Wilson, Harris and Pemba help out on defense next year, Smart was quick to mention that there are other ways they can help the team that don’t require major strides.

All three will be early catchers, as Harris was already on campus this week while Georgia goes through practice.

“You know, there was a time when there were three or four really high-recruiting picks in that room,” Smart said. “That’s what you want in this skill set. That helps you in third place. These types of bodies help you on special teams.

“6′2″-plus, 240-plus is a center that can cover punts, can cover returns in terms of lifting people up. Great value in that room, packs you can do on defense.”

The outside linebacker’s future is much brighter today than it was when Uzo Deribe arrived in Georgia from TCU. It will take time and buildup for Wilson, Pemba and Harris to grow into potential draft picks.

But for the first time since the 2019 signing season when Georgia brought in Smith and Jermaine Johnson a year after signing Aziz Ogullari, Georgia has a very bright future at the edge rushing position.

Kirby Smart is proud of the Georgia football outside linebacker

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