Georgia LB Amarlo Herrera proving to be much more than a fill-in

If you look close you can see the smile through Amarlo Herrera's facemask as he returns an interception 35 yards for a touchdown against Florida Atlantic this past Saturday night. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

If you look close you can see the smile through Amarlo Herrera's facemask as he returns an interception 35 yards for a touchdown against Florida Atlantic this past Saturday night. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

ATHENS – Georgia’s Amarlo Herrera has a reputation that precedes him. He’s known as a hard-hitting, run-stuffing linebacker whose specialty is jacking up running backs between the tackles.

So when the 6-foot-2, 245-pound block of granite deftly back-pedaled into the deep middle zone , read the tight end on a crossing route, broke on the ball an d jumped to snatch it away, then bolted down the sideline 35 yards for a touchdown against Florida Atlantic, you can understand the ensuing mob that smothered him in celebration in the end zone.

“Actually he surprised me there,” said fellow linebacker Mike Gilliard. “I didn’t think he could run like that. Shoot, he surprised all of us when he scored. That’s why we were all riled up. We were happy for him.”

Herrera thinks his athleticism is being underestimated.

“I’ve been working with [speed specialist] Sherman [White] for a good little bit now; maybe that was it,” Herrera says with a laugh. “I’m probably a little faster than most people think. I’ve run a 4.5-flat before.”

Whatever he runs, it’s fast enough for the Bulldogs and they sure are glad to have him. In fact, Georgia would be in a real pinch if it wasn’t for Herrera.

Herrera has started all three games for the Bulldogs at the “Mo” inside linebacker position. That’s the one usually manned by Alec Ogletree. But Ogletree, who Georgia players argue may be their best overall athlete on defense, has missed the first three games due to disciplinary suspension and is expected to miss at least one more this week.

Of course, Georgia’s next game is an SEC East matchup against a Vanderbilt team that gashed the Bulldogs for 200 yards rushing and 349 overall this past season. So Georgia will be counting on Herrera to come through again.

“I’ve found myself in a strange situation,” Herrera said. “You’ve got a starter that’s not playing and he’s expected to come back and start. So you never know, but I can’t concern myself with all that. I’m just trying to produce and help us win.”

Herrera has definitely been productive. His play in Georgia’s 41-20 win at Missouri was overshadowed by national player of the week Jarvis Jones. Herrera recorded a team-high 10 tackles, a tackle for loss and a fumble recovery. He had 7 tackles this past Saturday and is currently second on the team overall with 22 stops.

“Amarlo is doing great,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said Tuesday. “That was a great interception and return for a touchdown; he really looked like a ballplayer there. He’s always been very physical tackling. He hustles. I felt like he’s been a little bit better in the run game than in the passing game, but that was really a great play that he made.”

The Bulldogs shouldn’t be surprised by Herrera anymore. They’ve been counting on him since he first stepped on campus

Because of injuries to Ogletree and Christian Robinson in the first two games last season, Herrera was pressed into duty quickly. He ended up starting eight of Georgia’s 14 games as a freshman and finished with 37 tackles, which was 10th on the team.

It was a lot more work than Herrera expected when he signed with the Bulldogs out of Atlanta’s North Clayton High School last year.

“I feel like I’ve developed a lot since I’ve been here,” Herrera said. ”I really wasn’t into weight-lifting a lot until I got here. So I feel like I’ve gotten a lot stronger and a lot better. My high school coach [Rodney Hackney] said it before I got here I’d be a better college player than I was in high school because I wasn’t developed all the way. Everything I did was just off of what my Mom and Dad gave me.”

Georgia’s defense has had some struggles early on, especially in the first half of its first three games. So there is still much improvement to be made.

Some of that will come with the return of Ogletree and Bacarri Rambo next week. But what, then, becomes of Herrera?

The big man with the bigger-than-you’d-expect game says he’ll just handle whatever comes.

“Shoot, I didn’t even know I was going to play football in college,” Herrera said. “I’ve been playing since I was 5, but I never really looked at it as something that was going to get me somewhere. I just enjoyed going out there and making tackles on Saturday mornings.”

Now he just does it on Saturday nights.

79 comments Add your comment

UGA75

September 18th, 2012
6:44 pm

A very classy young man who will go far in life. He is a monster on defense and is getting the recognition he deserves.

Lawdawg

September 18th, 2012
6:44 pm

I’m the lead dawg? Wow!

Vance Duly

September 18th, 2012
6:49 pm

It’s good to hear about Dawgs who don’t feel entitled, but who work for what they have and appreciate it. We need more like Herrera! If I remember correctly, he was the first commitment for our 2011 class, and never got much press attention. ……WOOF!!!

chuck

September 18th, 2012
6:54 pm

Herrera is a 5 start DGD.

Dr.P

September 18th, 2012
7:10 pm

This kid Herrera shows a lot of pontential, has made a few great plays, but his and Connor Norman’s overall effect on the defense has been negative, as they have missed way too many assignments against vastly inferior talent. The defense has gone from a top 5 defense with Ogletree & Rambo, to a #45 defense with Herrera & Norman who has given up 20+ points to two offenses ranked below #110 nationally. Mitchell hasn’t made a big play yet at DB, so he’s not been a solid replacement for Commings, he needs to be shifted back to offense YESTERDAY. And Bowman has probably missed more assignments than anyone. CRob gets burned a lot too. Jenkins & Drew have no positive gamechanging impact when they’re on the field.

Ogletree, Rambo, Jarvis Jones, they can’t get back soon enough. These guys raise the level of the defense. They make positive gamechanging impact.

4th Quarter or First Quarter?
I think Richt emphasizes the 4th quarter too much, guys tend to save it for that quarter, coasting for the first half, trying to impress Richt.

The stats show that the team who is leading after the first quarter or first half, has a better chance of winning the game, than the team who wins the 4th quarter. So setting the tone and mindset early, is the key to winning the game.

Dr.P

September 18th, 2012
7:18 pm

Richt wins 89% of the games, when he has a lead at halftime.

But Richt LOSES 60% of the games, when he trails at halftime.

So why emphasize the 4th quarter?

masivatack

September 18th, 2012
7:25 pm

Dr. P
Proctologist

NYCDAWGFAN

September 18th, 2012
7:28 pm

Sounds like we have a troll in Dr. P… All Im really wondering is what Armarlo’s parents were feeding him if he came in as a true fresh at the size that he was and WASN’T into lifting? The kid has NFL written all over his frame.

Red and Black ’til Death

Dr.P

September 18th, 2012
7:28 pm

If the defense holds opposing team to:
less than 18 points, Richt wins 89% of the games
20 points, Richt wins 66% of the games
30 points, Richt wins 30% of the games

The defense is averaging over 21 points per game, should that continue, UGA ends up 8-4 in 2012.

If Vandy, South Carolina, UF, Tenn, GTech or Auburn, score just 7 more points than Buffalo did, or 30 points on a UGA defense that gave up 23 points to Buffalo, Richt will lose 70%, or 4 out of 6, of those games.

Dawg Haus

September 18th, 2012
7:31 pm

Definitely one of the most overlooked players on the team. Amarlo is a DGD!

NYCDAWGFAN

September 18th, 2012
7:36 pm

Dr. P take your percentages and comments somewhere else… like my toilet, where ill follow with some bubblin crude;-).. Really dude, this is a good article about a team first player.. And you find a way to bring negativity… Get off the dawgs board!!

Red and Black ’til Death

Dr.P

September 18th, 2012
7:39 pm

Anyone who thinks for one second that replacements like Bowman, Herrera and Norman have have made the defense better than Ogletree & Rambo & Jones, has no clue.

hogmtndawg

September 18th, 2012
7:40 pm

Hey DP, what is Richt’s winning percentage when UGA scores 40+?

Dr.P

September 18th, 2012
7:41 pm

The defense is #88 in rush defense in first half, #89 in pass defense in first half, maybe they should stop telling the guys to finish the drill, and win the 4th quarter, I don’t think it’s translating to excellent first half defense, you think?

Dr.P

September 18th, 2012
7:44 pm

Bobo has never averaged above 30 points per game in SEC play, so it’s an irrelevant question. His average is @28 points per game in conference play at UGA.

NYCDAWGFAN

September 18th, 2012
7:45 pm

Hey Dr. P Im flying down tomorrow night for my vacation of football… I can schedule a couple of rounds at Augusta Boxing Club if you need help keeping that mouth shut.. Seriously, the dawgs look good and we are on a positive vibe this year. You remind me of mr. Dowtin, though i doubt you have half the athletic ability.

Red and Black til Death

Dr.P

September 18th, 2012
7:48 pm

Bobo’s scoring averages drop from @40 points per game in non-conference games (like Fla Atl & Buffalo for example) to @28 points per game in conference games (like LSU for example).

Bobo averaged 50 points per game in 2011 in non conference games, so nothing new going on in 2012.

NYCDAWGFAN

September 18th, 2012
7:53 pm

Don’t dodge me lil dr boy.. ill be in athens saturday if you wanna get smacked as tailgate entertainment for the masses.. ill be wearing grey Nike dryfit shorts with a red and black “tried and true t” you can wear your orange and blue or navy and gold pom poms with tassles hanging off your a$$

Red and Black til Death

hogmtndawg

September 18th, 2012
7:53 pm

So DP, If UGA is only averaging giving up 21 and they’re averaging scoring 47, they win them all with your logic. So, who care who plays defense!! UGA going undefeated!!

Go have your milk and cookies junior.

Dr.P

September 18th, 2012
7:56 pm

Nope, Grantham led defenses go +13 points when playing ranked teams, as opposed ot averages of non conference teams.

So if Grantham is giving up 21.5 to non-conference foes, you can figure his average will match his 2 year UGA average of +13 against ranked teams like SC & UF, so giving up 34.5 points per game, and Richt loses 70% of the games when teams score 30 points or more.

NYCDAWGFAN

September 18th, 2012
7:57 pm

Hogmtndawg.. Thank you bro.. thank you.. This guy thinks im kidding, i really would like to slap the taste outta his mouth while he punches his calculator

Red and Black til Death

NYCDAWGFAN

September 18th, 2012
8:02 pm

Hey dr, where will you be this saturday while the faithful are at Sanford?

Red and Black til Death

Dr.P

September 18th, 2012
8:03 pm

Also, Richt loses 34% of games when the defense gives up 20 points, and Grantham’s SEC average is 20 points in 2012, so you figure UGA plays 7 more SEC games x .34 = 2-3 losses in the SEC.

In case you’re wondering, Grantham has averages 21.5 to 25 points per game in conference play since 2010, holding Richt’s win % down to 59% during 2010-2011.

CHDawg

September 18th, 2012
8:06 pm

Richt’s teams win 100% of the time when they end up with more points that their opponents..Go Dawgs.

CHDawg

September 18th, 2012
8:11 pm

Hererra has a little bit of a Butkus/Nobis look about him. 10 more pounds of muscle and another year of experience and he might be the number one cause of nightmares among SEC running backs. The method of attacking on our D in ‘12 appears to be, spread ‘em, get the nickel in, and then throw it underneath. Hopefully, we can stop that.

CHDawg

September 18th, 2012
8:13 pm

oops than their opponents

Dr.P

September 18th, 2012
8:17 pm

Should the defense hold the rest of the opponents to 18 points or less, Richt wins 89% of those games.

The difference in giving up 18 points vs. 21 points from the defense, or winning the first half points wise vs. losing the first half in points, is H-U-G-E, means Richt’s win % RISES from 60% to 89%, turns a 7-8 win season, into an 10-11 win season.

Duluth Dawg

September 18th, 2012
8:20 pm

Dr. P gets rejected by chicks 100% of the time. He asked 3 fatties out at McDonald’s and got 0 dates. 0/3=0% success rate or a 100% strikeout rate. Most notably, 99% of the time he’s successful around the Midtown area…

SCDawg

September 18th, 2012
8:29 pm

Why is anyone even paying attention to this Dr. P moron. Obviously a troll who has nothing better to do than try to start issues on this post. Not to worry, he still has to wake up in the morning knowing that he is a Tech fan. There can be no more humiliating thought that that.

GATA!!!!!

Rik Smits

September 18th, 2012
8:35 pm

Hey Dr. P

Here’s a little stat for ya…

“Making his second career start, Ogletree tied for second on the team with 10 tackles, including seven solo stops. However, he also was twice beaten in pass coverage for touchdowns.”

Cdpridg

September 18th, 2012
8:45 pm

p want be in athens…he is fan of the bug

wretched06

September 18th, 2012
9:01 pm

I don’t post but I had to this time. Dr. P can you please turn off the lights in mom’s basement and please shutup! Thanks.

Dr. P's Parole Officer

September 18th, 2012
9:02 pm

Dr. P = Proctologist!!!!!!

Very good post!!!

LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:

Dawg Haus

September 18th, 2012
9:05 pm

NYCDAWGFAN, don’t mind the trolls. Real Dawg fans appreciate your passion and love for the team. Hope you enjoy your trip! I’m in DC these days (a fellow Dawg in exile) and savor every moment of every trip back to Athens. Go Dawgs!

Dr. P's Parole Officer

September 18th, 2012
9:05 pm

Statistics show that CMR wins 100% of the games when UGA is ahead at the end of the 4th quarter!!!!!!!!!!!

davidinloganville

September 18th, 2012
9:08 pm

hey Double P 28 points in the SEC is good enough to win most weekends.

Dr. P's Parole Officer

September 18th, 2012
9:09 pm

@ Rik Smits:

Please don’t confuse Dr. P with facts. He is Vice-President of the Single Didit IQ Club!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dr P's stats are worthless

September 18th, 2012
9:10 pm

Dr. P by your logic, even if UGA holds all of their opponents to under 18 points (even if they hold all of them to 0) he will still manage to lose 1 or 2 games and there is no way to go undefeated. You are not using your percentages correctly.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

September 18th, 2012
9:19 pm

In my opinion Herrera has played better than Ogletree

since Ogletree likes to embarass the program Herrera should get to play ahead of him

start rewarding kids who stay out of trouble instead of feeling sorry for trouble makers

JB

September 18th, 2012
9:21 pm

This Defense could really be nasty when all the pieces are in and the game time for the back ups is very valuable. You can stick guys in and not see a drop off. That’s killing Tech. They have 7 or 8 decent D players and NO DEPTH……

Knox Culpepper

September 18th, 2012
9:23 pm

Dr. P. is a joke so he needs to be ignored. He obviously doesn’t know sports. Statistics are for losers and don’t speak to the heart of the game. Herrera has heart which is much more powerful than any statistic. Dr. P. doesn’t have a (male genital part) or (male genital parts – plural). Be gone loser.

SugarHillDawg

September 18th, 2012
9:30 pm

He’s made plays from his first game. DEFINITELY a LONG career in the pros.

UGA FAN

September 18th, 2012
9:35 pm

Nice article, Congrats Herrera , you are really doing good job out there, as a UGA fan i must say keep up the good work, continue with that good character and your attitude twill take you far. GOOD LUCK THIS SEASON!!

Chuck UGA

September 18th, 2012
9:36 pm

Calling it now. Georgia will win the SEC Championship Game and will finish the regular season 11-1 or 12-0. That means a likely appearance in the national championship game unless two other teams end with a better RPI. Thank you Larry Munson…this will be in your honor!

Just Saying

September 18th, 2012
9:41 pm

Bama has never won a game when they gave up 88 points and/or over 750 yards rushing. Facts my friends, facts. Dr.P and I know our stats so don’t question our logic you fools!!!

hind tit

September 18th, 2012
9:45 pm

Dr. Pecker must be from Tech. I sense a slide rule in this equation.

Bad Dawg

September 18th, 2012
9:46 pm

Chuck UGA. lol at you thinking UGA is going to win the SECCG against an LSU or Alabama. The Capital One Bowl will be the destination for UGA. Sad but true.

Hondo 17

September 18th, 2012
9:51 pm

let’s look at the real numbers from last year for the defense. SC scored 2 TD’s off TO’s, 1 TD off fake punt and had one more TO inside the 10. Ole Miss retuned a punt for TD off a reverse. MSU scored on a pick 6. Vandy scored on a kickoff return. That’s 6 TD that are not really the defenses fault but charged to them anyway. there may have been more but these are the ones I can recall.

dap01

September 18th, 2012
9:54 pm

Hey P (Techie): Statistics show that Grant field is not sold out 100% of the time. Stats show that if Tech plays on Thursday night, they are 50% likely to be on TV that night. Stats show that guys that have dates with live girls before they are 30, eventually move out of their mom’s house.

BeerDawg

September 18th, 2012
10:03 pm

Don’t feed the troll…
Tree will be in the NFL next year and Herrera will be a very experienced junior. This is what reloading looks like, although his ceiling is nowhere not as high Alec Ogletree’s
Off topic, but it is starting to look like Bennett will be able to play on Sundays. What he does is always in demand; possession receiver, who is big and blocks very well