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Former Upson-Lee standout Travon Walker hunkers down with the Dawgs for CFP Championship

Travon's father, Stead Walker, says being an all-around athlete is what made Travon shine the brightest in whatever sport he competed in.

THOMASTON, Ga. — The Georgia Bulldogs' defense ranks first in the nation, with fewest points allowed per game checking in at 9.6.

Central Georgia has a lot of student athletes playing in Monday's game, including one who is a big part of that defense. 

Head coach Kirby Smart has coined the phrase, "Either you're elite or you're not," and the defense fits the billing. 

One of those big linemen starting in the trenches for the Dawgs hails from the Central Georgia area, but he almost wound up on the college basketball court instead.

In high school, defensive lineman Travon Walker was a part of an Upson-Lee hoops squad that won back-to-back state championships with a career average of 12 points and 11 rebounds. He was also a part of a 75-game winning streak with the program, but in the end, Travon's father, Stead Walker, says being an all-around athlete is what made Travon shine the brightest in whatever sport he competed in.

"I think it helps mentally and physically all around. Without football, he wouldn't be the player he was, or without basketball, he wouldn't be the football player he is, or even track -- it also helped him," Stead said. 

Those experiences did indeed help him. Travon has blossomed into a 6'4", 275 lb. machine, wrecking defenses across the country as a member of Georgia's elite defense that is preparing for the national championship in a rematch with old rivals Alabama. His parents, however, won't take all the credit. 

"We didn't do it by ourselves. As the saying goes, 'It takes a community with prayers and words of wisdom.' It means a lot to us and him," said Stead.

Travon has managed to start all 14 games this year for Georgia. He's collected 5 sacks, 6-and-a-half tackles for loss, along with a team high 29 quarterback hurries, something that makes mom and dad cheer as fans and, of course, proud parents. 

"It's a blessing and surreal. It puts a lot of things in perspective of what he said growing up about his dreams and plans. It really does put a smile on your face," Stead said. 

One thing about #44 is when he's out there on the field, he's not just playing for the Dawgs and his family, but he carries his hometown in his heart every time his number is called. 

"He's going to say, '706.' If anyone says he's from Atlanta or Macon, he's going to correct them and say no, he's not, he's from Thomaston, and he's very proud to be where he's from," said Stead.

Travon won't be the only Central Georgia native suiting up come Monday night. He will be joined by five others.

Former Westside two-way player Jehlen "Hollywood" Cannady, in his redshirt freshman season, is listed on the Dawgs roster as a reserve defensive back. 

Three-star football standout Jovan Bullard is also a reserve defensive back for the Georgia Bulldogs.

Former five-star offensive tackle Amaris Mims from Bleckley County lines up as a reserve lineman for the Red-and-Black.

Also, from Peach County, current freshman Terrance Ferguson is an offensive lineman with Alabama, while his older former teammate Kearis Jackson is a recent Georgia grad.

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