Former UCLA commit Roquan Smith finally gets to play in the Rose Bowl with Georgia
By Fred Robledo
When Georgia junior Roquan Smith enters the Rose Bowl for Monday’s game in the College Football Playoff semifinal against Oklahoma, UCLA fans have to wonder what might have been.
The Butkus Award winner as the nation’s top linebacker was a UCLA commit before opting out and selecting Georgia. The Rose Bowl could have been his home.
The Georgia native originally committed to UCLA during a televised ceremony on National Signing Day, but he didn’t send his letter to UCLA after news broke that Bruins defensive coordinator and his primary recruiter Jeff Ulbrich was leaving to the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL.
Smith re-opened his recruitment and stayed near home.
That was in 2015 and Smith isn’t concerned about what might have been. Not when he’s playing in the Rose Bowl for a spot in the national championship.
“It doesn’t feel weird at all,” Smith said. “It was something I did a while ago. But I don’t really think about it from that aspect. I just think about it just playing for the University of Georgia.
“It’s a great opportunity for me and my teammates, coaching staff to be able to play on a historic field. So I don’t think about it more so like me and what I almost did or something like that.”
Smith leads the Bulldogs in tackles with 113 and in sacks (5.5) and quarterback hurries (17).
Bulldogs defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, an interim head coach with the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars at one point in his career that also included coaching positions with the Cleveland Browns and Chicago Bears, was asked if Smith reminds him of any other great college linebackers.
“Roquan is unique to me,” said Tucker, once an assistant head coach at Alabama who also worked at LSU, Ohio State and Michigan State. “I’ve seen a lot of linebackers over the years that are […]