Building depth at d-line

Good morning, all-

Hope you got to read today’s story about the football team’s conditioning drills that started Monday afternoon. AJC photog Johnny Crawford was out there also and we’ve got an online gallery to look at, also.

The players were working pretty hard. When they were resting, they were gasping, hands on their heads, sweat pouring off their faces. Towards the end, during drills when they were supposed to be sprinting, it was almost all some of them could do just to keep shuffling forward, particularly the bigger guys.

A noteworthy thing, though, is that none of the players dropped out. Last year, in Paul Johnson’s first “coaches’ run,” as he calls them, he said a few players fell out and it sounds like on the whole the team did a lot worse.

Bret White, the former long snapper who is prepping for Tech’s pro day March 9, was watching the proceedings from a lawn chair. He said that the players had to repeat drills (the penalty for not doing it correctly, or with enough effort) a lot more last year’s first day than they did Monday.

Johnson mentioned a few position changes afterwards. Correy Earls moved from wide receiver to defensive back. Jon Lockhart, who redshirted this past season, is going from A-back to cornerback, which was his position in high school. Three players – offensive lineman Jason Hill and linebackers Albert Rocker and Osahon Tongo — will move to the defensive line.

Hill is a rising senior who began on the defensive line, switched in his redshirt year and has struggled to get on the field. Rocker is a rising redshirt sophomore who played sparingly last season. For whatever it’s worth to you, he was the No. 8 prospect in Alabama coming out of high school, according to SuperPrep magazine. Tongo is a rising redshirt junior and played some special teams. He was the No. 18 linebacker in the country, according to Rivals.com.

The moves say two things. One, Johnson wants to create competition on the line. Second, the linebacking group is a strength.

Here are the returning tackles: Ben Anderson, T.J. Barnes, Luke Snider and Logan Walls. Snider is a walk-on.
The returning ends are Anthony Egbuniwe, Robert Hall, Derrick Morgan, Jason Peters, Steven Powers and Antonio Wilson. Powers is a walk-on.

That’s five defensive ends and three tackles who are on scholarship, plus the three moving onto the line. It’s likely Hill, listed at 6-4 and 299 pounds, will go to tackle, and perhaps some ends (maybe Jason Peters) will move also.

It also means that defensive tackle recruit J.C. Lanier from Emanuel County Institute is a strong candidate to play right away, if he can prove himself. He’s the only DT in the recruiting class. Euclid Cummings, Christopher Crenshaw, Izaan Cross and Emmanuel Dieke are all ends. Dieke, from North Clayton, will get a head start as he is on campus and will be able to participate in spring practice.

All told, that’s 16 scholarship players who will be on the defensive line in fall camp, assuming no injuries or more position switches. Only one of them, Hill, will be a senior.

That’s actually a little heavy. Compare that to linebackers, where, with incoming freshmen, there will be nine players. That’s a three-deep, whereas with 16 linemen, you’ve got a four-deep (although it is very heavy on ends).

Who do you project to start on the defensive line?

39 comments Add your comment

Lavette4066

March 3rd, 2009
8:53 am

I look for the two deep at tackle to be Anderson and Peters followed by Barnes and Lanier. I think that Cross eventually moves inside as well. DE’s will be Morgan and Hall. One of the Freshmen could make the two deep here. Peters could be used interchangeably depending on down and distance. Tongo could be a factor as he has the size but has been slowed by injury. Barnes and Lanier have to prove they can play a lot of physical snaps at this level. I am surprised to hear about Rocker. I didn’t realize he was big enough to play end. Must mean the coaches really like the two redshirts from last year as well as Sylvester. That can’t be bad. There may be some growing pains on the DL, but this should be a strength for years to come.

Cary Jacket

March 3rd, 2009
9:44 am

Ken, Good blog.

Quick question: You mentioned Walls and Hill being the only seniors on DL, but I thought Logan Walls was part of that outstanding 2007 class that includes Nesbitt, Dwyer, Burnett, Claytor, etc. Wouldn’t that make Logan a junior, and Hill the lone senior on DL?

My starting defensive line (w/backups):
DE – D. MORGAN (Peters/Wilson)
DT – B. ANDERSON (Hill)
DT – T.J. BARNES (Peters/Walls)
DE – R. HALL (Egbuniwe)

Jason Peters might not crack the starting lineup, but I think he’ll get a lot of snaps at both DE and DT. Like Adamm Oliver, Peters will give the coaching staff some flexibility in substitutions.

Everyone’s darkhorse candidate to come out of nowhere for playing time in 2009 is J.C. Lanier, but that’s a lot to ask of a true freshman. My money is on Jason Hill. I think CPJ will do everything he can to redshirt J.C. if possible.

If Hill can put together a senior season like David Brown (minus the injury), and claim either a starting position or some substantial playing time as a back-up DT, then redshirting Lanier becomes a possibility.

GT66

March 3rd, 2009
9:47 am

Whatever Dlineman we sign, lets make sure they have some junk in the trunk.

J Holland

March 3rd, 2009
9:48 am

Look for Morgan to play a lot of DT based on down/distance situations
Barnes & Lanier really need to step up and be major contributors.
Sure would help if Tongo could stay healthy.

GT66

March 3rd, 2009
9:55 am

I think Barnes is a lazy piece of crap.

Hey GT66

March 3rd, 2009
10:05 am

Something tells me you wouldn’t say that to his face. You’d be happy to say it behind your computer screen though huh lil’ buddy? Where do you get the idea he’s lazy?

Ken Sugiura

March 3rd, 2009
10:28 am

Thanks for the comments. Cary Jacket, you are right. I was looking at the wrong Walls brother. Logan is a rising reshirt sophomore. Lance is the upcoming senior. thanks for the catch; I will edit accordingly. I think you guys are hitting it with your projections. I suppose it’s tempting to think that Lanier could come in and play, but Johnson’s strong preference, it seems, is to redshirt them if at all possible. That doesn’t mean if he comes in and is clearly ready to play that he will still redshirt, but it’s a big ask for a true freshman to be able to mix it up at DT like that.

Cary Jacket

March 3rd, 2009
11:30 am

Yeah, a red-shirt year for Lanier will mean the defense is doing well, and the DT’s will be playing capably at least.

If CPJ is forced to play Lanier as a true freshmen, I’m thinking Nesbitt, Dwyer, Jones, BeBe, et al. are going to need to light up the scoreboard to win some more 45-42 games in 2009.

Not that there’s anything wrong with winning 45-42 games … :-)

Wreck7

March 3rd, 2009
11:46 am

Ken, Rocker’s name is Albert, not Jason. Just a heads up.

Thanks for the blog. My projection for the starters would be:

Derrick Morgan- DE
TJ Barnes- DT
Ben Anderson-DT (will rotate a lot more with other guys)
Robert Hall- DE

Jason Peters may earn a starting gig but as of now, I think he is a rotational player that they use to spell at DE and DT. He will be a key contributor this year just as Elris Anyaibe was last year.

Look out for Antonio Wilson. He’s a Michael Johnson clone.

ga_tech_92

March 3rd, 2009
12:14 pm

Killiangsu

March 3rd, 2009
12:55 pm

I found it interesting that most of the players (from the pictures published by the AJC) are wearing their skull cap they received from playing in the Chick-Fil-A bowl….who on here thinks CPJ is making them wear that hat as a reminder?

Rob

March 3rd, 2009
1:04 pm

st simons is a dumbass

Ken Sugiura

March 3rd, 2009
1:08 pm

Thanks. I’m not sure who jason Rocker is. I think that’s what you get for blogging at 7 in the morning. Again, will change.

I think Antonio Wilson will be interesting to watch. He’ll be a great story to write when the time comes. He played high school football only as a senior at Columbia High in DeKalb after three years starring for the basketball team, but only played four games of football before he was injured in an automobile accident. Wes Durham is high on him.

Interesting theory, Killiangsu. I’d doubt Johnson made them wear the caps, although I wouldn’t put it past him. I don’t think any of the players need reminding about LSU. Sometimes, to coin a phrase, a cap is just a cap.

vamosjackets

March 3rd, 2009
1:19 pm

Wow, this blog and especially the comments section are about a zillion times better than those in the past. Thanks, AJC folks, for the marked improvement!

My prediction for the DL is:
DE – 1. Morgan 2. Wilson
DT – 1. Barnes 2. Walls 3. Lanier
DT – 1. Anderson 2. Walls 3. Lanier (I wish he could redshirt, but I think our depth will necessitate playing him)
DE – 1. Hall 2. Peters 3. A true freshman, probably Cross

We should be doing very well at DE for a while with the incoming recruits. Cross will come in with a college ready physique, while the others will be beasts after a year of redshirt training in the program. We need to sign 1 or 2 stud DT’s this year, or will need for Peters or Cross to grow into (and have the desire to play) DT.

GT66

March 3rd, 2009
1:23 pm

I have some inside sources that tell me Barnes is a cancer in the locker room. He seems like a pathetic person.

RAMBLE ON!!!

March 3rd, 2009
1:36 pm

Ken, you should be off today its Square Root Day, a rare holiday that occurs when the day and the month are both the square root of the last two digits of the current year. Numerically, March 3, 2009, can be expressed as 3/3/09, or mathematically as √9 = 3, or 3² = 3 × 3 = 9.

Hall will have a break out year since everyone will be double teaming Morgan. Good post Ken, you said the LB’s are a strength.

Where do you think GT is strongest at…RB’s?

rainman

March 3rd, 2009
1:58 pm

GT66 clearly has an agenda. I have never heard these negative views on Barnes before and I doubt PJ would put up with a cancer. It’s probably more like UGay66.

RAMBLE ON!!!

March 3rd, 2009
3:12 pm

I don’t think Ken likes me…

Too Easy

March 3rd, 2009
3:22 pm

ChikFilA caps are to remind them of their aspirations.

MinnesotaJacket

March 3rd, 2009
4:06 pm

I don’t know guys… I like the new guy Lanier I mean he doesn’t look great on film but that guy looks like a hoss and if we can put him head almost as a close nose and let him plus up those A gaps and allow our healthy middle linebacker to make plays…but something else that I think will be big is earls switching to corner making more of a competition for who will start their. In the end I don’t care if we have two tackles who will make great plays but who will play their spot plus the gaps and make teams try to best our more veteran safety and corners. Either way Im excited to see how the competition will work itself out. GO JACKETS

Ken Sugiura

March 3rd, 2009
4:29 pm

Vamos – you’re on top of things about Cross. Giff Smith said pretty much the same thing about him, that coaches think he has a chance to play this fall. And thanks for the kind words. Larry and I both are trying to do better with the blogs. Any suggestions on what you’d want to read and comment on are welcome.

Ramble On – You’ll be pleased to know that my facebook status says that I’ll be celebrating Square Root Day. And I’d agree that A-backs and B-backs are Tech’s deepest positions. You start with Jonathan Dwyer, Roddy Jones, and Lucas Cox, and then throw in Marcus Wright, Embry Peeples and Quincy Kelly, who all played some but not a lot, and then Anthony Allen and Richard Watson. Allen averaged 4.6 yards per carry at Louisville before transferring. He and Watson, who redshirted, both drew good reviews from their work in practice.

I’d discount GT66’s opinions, also. It sounds like he’s having a bad day.

StingerSplash

March 3rd, 2009
4:42 pm

Morgan played a lot last year and played well. Hall and Peters got some PT as well. Even without the moves, I think the line of Hall-Anderson-Barnes-Morgan would be one of the best around, even without the rep of last year’s D-Line.
I’m more worried about the O-Line than the D-Line.

The Big Bug

March 3rd, 2009
4:55 pm

Oh Yeah. GT66 is a leghumper. He was outed a long time ago.

The Big Bug

March 3rd, 2009
5:06 pm

I would like to hear about OL too.

RAMBLE ON!!!

March 3rd, 2009
5:19 pm

Thanks Ken, enjoy the holiday!!!

GT66

March 3rd, 2009
6:27 pm

Barnes does not look as good in his uniform as those big, powerful men on the line with those bulging muscles playing between the hedges. He doesn’t do it for this man. No sir.

GT BUZZ

March 3rd, 2009
6:38 pm

Anthony Allen is going to be a star. What little I saw of him last spring really impressed me. With him and Watson both playing this year I think you will see Dwyer play some A Back to get him outside more. I have also heard some real good things about our incoming freshmen QB’s and Jaybo has added allot of strength during the off-season. I think we are really deep at QB also, and think we will see more of a two QB system this year with either Jaybo or Jordan Luallen seeing the field allot more this season. Personally I hope Jaybo locks down that 2 spot so we can red shirt Luallen. I think Luallen is going to be the a great QB. GO JACKETS!

Jim

March 3rd, 2009
8:05 pm

Ishaan Cross will be in next fall’s 2-deep, imo.

Jim

March 3rd, 2009
8:07 pm

Ken, congrats also on the new blog format, looks great! See you down at the Miami game tomorrow night!

Jim

March 3rd, 2009
8:19 pm

Ken, also congrats on the new blog setup, looks great! See you down at the Miami game tomorrow night.

Hey GT66

March 3rd, 2009
9:07 pm

45-42 lil’ buddy. It’s really neat that you hide your uga gayness behind a fake screen name but we all know who you are. We also all know why you are here. You think about Tech all day every day and it still hurts don’t it lil’ tyke. Sad..so sad….409 rushing yards…ouch.

carober

March 3rd, 2009
10:43 pm

Ken,

Great blog. I’m sure it’s difficult to get a lot of info, but seeing as Dieke is the only spring entrance I would love to hear something (at least after a few or more weeks of spring practice) about either his impressions on the leap from high school to GT or the coaches’ impressions of him. If that makes sense.

Ken Sugiura

March 3rd, 2009
11:12 pm

Carober- thanks for the kind words. I will try to talk to Dieke in the next couple of weeks, or during spring practice.

Daniel

March 4th, 2009
8:40 am

Any word on what the coaches think about JC Lanier? I believe he was listed at something like 340 in high school and my guess is that the coaches will trim him down a bit. Have you heard anything from the staff about his physical strength coming in versus his weight?

Carolina Jacket

March 4th, 2009
9:08 am

It should be:
DE – Morgan
DT – Barnes
DT – Lanier
DE – Peters
With Mt. Barnes and Lanier in the middle and Morgan and Peters coming off the edge that should be a stout line for opposing offenses to operate against.

Yazoo

March 4th, 2009
9:08 am

Good blog guys! I follow recruiting pretty heavily – watched a good bit of film on most of our guys, too. Cross is going to be a beast! He flies to the ball and plays extremely physical. He’ll give some people a serious push this Fall. As for DT – I’ve heard a lot more praise about Barnes than I have Anderson. Seems he really gives the scout team fits. I see Anderson being more of a 3rd plug guy and not starting. Interesting about Peters – I had not heard the possibility of a change but that makes sense. He’s my vote right now to get the other starting spot. I agree that Lanier needs to be RS.

The biggest piece to the defensive puzzle will be Hall. Morgan is only getting stronger and will certainly command the double team. If Hall explodes this year we’ll be able to press the QB and make some big plays defensively. If we struggle on that end it will bring the entire defense down. GO JACKETS!!!!!

GT80

March 4th, 2009
10:05 am

Ken,
Understand the coaches had time trils last Monday along with pro shuttle and VJ. Have you heard any times ?

ACC’s lunchtime links

March 4th, 2009
8:05 pm

[...] Sugiura of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution had an update on some position moves this spring at Georgia Tech. Three players are moving to the defensive line, which will bring even [...]

Hmmmmm

March 7th, 2009
8:49 pm

The defense SUCKED last year, hopefully we will be better this year… I have no idea how, but I can dream…. If we don’t pick it up on defense, this will be a VERY long year!