(WIVB) — Georgia Bulldog Nolan Smith has done a ton of wining at the collegiate level and he has the skills to not just compete, but be a game-changing edge rusher at the next level.

Smith spent four seasons playing in Athens, but really broke out as a junior. That season, he started 14 games at linebacker for the Bulldogs, finishing with 31 tackles, nine of them for a loss to go along with three and a half sacks and three forced fumbles.

In 2022, Smith started the first eight games of the season and had three sacks, before suffering a season-ending torn pectoral muscle.

Still, the Bulldogs succeeded and Smith was a major part of it, winning the national championship in both seasons, becoming college football’s first back-to-back champion since Alabama in 2011 and 2012.

Smith is projected to be selected in the middle-to-later parts of the first round, meaning that there is a good chance that he will be available to the Bills at the 27th pick, should they choose to add him.

One knock on him is his size. Smith stands at 6’2″ and weighs 238 pounds, certainly undersized for an outside linebacker. However, he heard the criticism in college as well and is used to it.

“A lot of people think I was undersized. I’m not like other guys, you know, some guys take the easy way out especially when things don’t go their way especially in life now. Guys transfer, guys leave, that’s just not how you do it. You stick at your program you work hard and you proved to that coach that I should be on that field, I had to sit back, guys in front of me were better,” Smith said.

He credits his family for instilling that belief in him.

“I just worked hard and never doubted. My mom told me that you never had it easy in life, so just keep working,” he said.

Smith will take a more cautious approach as he starts his professional career, one that he hopes will last.

“I have to go in there and prove myself to the team,” Smith said. “I can’t go in there and be a leader right out of the gate. you have to prove yourself to the players and the coaches and then and hopefully I can be that leader one day in someone’s program and just know that I’m player led and self-driven.”

Aidan Joly joined the News 4 staff in 2022. He is a graduate of Canisius College. You can see more of his work here.