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?