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Julian Rochester perfectly represents Georgia’s football journey to win the National Championship

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A number of former Bulldogs stood on the sidelines on Monday night to cheer on their alma mater. Players who were with Kirby Smart from day one as the program’s head coach.

Guys like Roquan Smith, Nick Chubb and Richard LeCounte, who built the culture first hand in Georgia that allowed the current players to win 33-18 against Alabama. Many of those same players who were also part of Alabama’s 26-23 loss in the 2018 National Championship Game.

There was also a current Georgia player who was with Smart and the 2016 Georgia team who was in pads Monday night. That would be defensive tackle Julian Rochester.

Rochester has actually committed to play for Mark Richt as a member of the recruiting class of 2016. Even after the coaching change, he stuck to his dedication to Smart and the Georgia program.

Georgia then stayed with Rochester as he struggled with multiple knee injuries that kept him sidelined through the 2019, 2020 and 2021 seasons.

Like the Bulldogs on Monday night, however, Rochester fought back and was able to finish strong. He played in the win, in what could have been his last game as a Georgia Bulldog. He had no tackle in the game, but based on what teammates have to say about Uncle Julian, his impact on this team goes way beyond the stats.

To see him overcome so many injuries and he didn’t have a big impact on the game, but he did affect his space, Smart said. He influenced Jalen Carter, Jordan Davis, Devonte, Wyatt, because they wanted it for him. And if you want it in front of people in the room, it makes it a lot more special.

Related: Kirby Smart, Vince Dooley and the Importance of Understanding Georgia’s Football History

Rochester was the only top-100 defensive player to sign Georgia in that first-class recruit of 2016. Undoubtedly one of the best of the modern era, this Georgia defense is now overrun with players of its kind.

The knee injuries prevented Rochester from reaching his ceiling as a player. Perhaps it is better to celebrate Rochester and his journey to this point. It fits all the ups and downs Georgia has gone through under Smart’s tenure.

The stops and starts, the highlight of the 2017 season followed by the crushing loss in the title match. Rochesters’ personal low came in the 2020 season when he suffered a season-ending knee injury against Kentucky. The following week, Georgia lost to Florida and the Bulldogs felt miles away from winning a championship.

Rochester continued to work fearlessly. He took advantage of the NCAA qualifying for an extra year. He recovered hard and came on the field for Georgias’ last seven games of the 2021 season.

That included the SEC championship defeat to Alabama. A final setback that made Monday night all the more special.

Julian Rochester, who was on this team with one of us, and I could see the emotion on his face, said linebacker Nakobe Dean. Just seeing him was a representation of everything Id did it for, all the fans, all my brothers I love, my family, everyone from home, all the kids who look up to us. I just see, yeah, go Dawgs.

Sources

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2/ https://www.dawgnation.com/football/julian-rochester-georgia-football-national-championship/XVLOBDJ2M5CNTML2JTOI5ZDPSM/

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