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Position Preview: There’s Experience on the Defensive Line and Plenty of Youth Waiting for their Chance

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Yeah, Dave. But What About Depth?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 03 Georgia at Kentucky
Redshirt Senior Julian Rochester

So, any Georgia news lately? Ahh...the best laid schemes o’mice an’ men...

Georgia has always had a mainline into the Florida defensive talent pool.

The defensive line, and in particular the defensive tackle position, is what often separates the haves and the have-nots in the SEC. I am pleased to say that we have ‘em.

Gone, but not Forgotten

Georgia lost Tyler Clark and Michael Barnett to graduation and they will be missed, Clark in particular, will always be remembered as a consistent force in the middle and a key to our 2018 Rose Bowl victory over Oklahoma.

Experience

Fifth-year (RS) senior Julian Rochester missed virtually all of 2019 with a knee issue, but was able to play late in the season and will be under Tray Scott’s tutelage for what will be the 4th year now. Rochester has had his ups and downs for various reasons, but if he has overcome his injury woes he might become a huge piece of the success we all expect on defense. Rochester can line up over center or jump into a gap and has garnered positive reviews (dare I say buzz?) thus far in August camp.

Who among you gasped when big Jordan Davis (Jr.) went down during the first series up in Knoxville last year, thinking the worst by his reaction and 75 different ESPN camera angles of the big man going into the injury protocol tent? Davis might be the key to everything this season and is the best player on the team at nose. He’s got energy, charisma and is a vocal leader who commands attention and eats up blockers with tremendous athleticism for such a large human being. This guy continues to be the steal of the 2018 signing class.

Texas A&M v Georgia
Jordan Davis. Destroyer of dreams.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Devonte Wyatt has (Sr.) has played a ton of football and might be the most adaptable defensive lineman on the team. He can line up over center in a pinch, but is best suited as a hands-down defensive lineman over guard and controlling gaps. Wyatt has quietly become a very dependable and steady player.

NCAA Football: Missouri at Georgia
Devonte Wyatt, a big piece on the line.

An incredible talent, who is athletic enough to line up on the edge or on the interior, former 5-Star recruit Travon Walker could outgrow his presence as an edge defender. Will he see more snaps as a 3-technique interior lineman or will he continue to evolve into a potential sack-machine defensive end? He can line up anywhere on the line and this is the kind of flexibility that is vital for any alpha defensive unit. I’m including him in the defensive line unit for now, subject to change. Either way, he is hands-down one of the best players on the team at any position.

247 Sports defensive line rankings 2016-2020. Dawgsports/The Battle Hymnal

Kirby Smart, Dan Lanning and Tray Scott have been recruting at a very high level across the defensive line. (Special kudos to friend of the blog, Josh Hancher, for assisting the graphically challenged...)

Youth Will Be Served

Tennessee Trio: Red-shirt freshman Zion Logue and Bill Norton - a couple of Tennessee kids - have now had a full year in the system and both played just enough in 2019 to get a taste of “it” without burning their red shirts. Both were highly recruited and certainly benefited from the off-season S&C program. A 3rd Tennessee defensive tackle, Tymon Mitchell (Franklin Road Academy, Nashville) is probably headed for a red-shirt season. He’s got the size at 6’ 3” and 315 to be molded into a gap stopping, space eating monster.

Nazir Stackhouse, another 2020 signee out of Columbia High (Decatur) has been committed to Georgia since 2017 and wants to be in Athens. He could be headed for a redshirt season, but a 6’ 4” there is a lot to like about his potential for this former national 247 recruit.

Warren Brinson was one of Georgia’s 6 early signees in the 2020 cycle. Brinson played his high school ball at IMG academy and will develop in time to add more quality depth along the interior defensive front.

The Next Big Thing?

Then, there’s that kid out of Apopka, Florida that is creating his very own atmosphere during “August” camp, Jalen Carter. I’ve seen this clip, you’ve seen this clip, the world has seen this clip. It’s worth watching again:

Mon Dieu! Trey Hill ain’t exactly the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man...

Carter is going to play early and often. The only thing holding him back is experience and he could become the best defensive big-man to pass through the Classic City in a decade (or, more?). He was a tight end up until his senior year of high school, so his experience at defensive line is limited. That’s about to change in a very big way. At 6’ 3” with the prototypical build for his position, expect great things. How soon? Sooner than anyone might think. On the hoof, he reminds me of former Auburn All-American Derrick Brown.

Carter’s development is important in the near term. We have experience on the line, but that experience isn’t particularly deep. Sure, there’s a ton of quality youth waiting in the wings, but it’ll still take time. However, the future is incredibly bright as positional depth is building.

What about 2021?

At the moment, Georgia does not have any true fingers-on-the-ground defensive lineman committed for the 2021 cycle. That will surely change by either the early signing day or the traditional National Signing Day, so stay tuned.

As Always, GO DAWGS!