March 28, 2013

5 questions: Outside LBs



Jordan Jenkins has set a goal of 10 sacks this year, can he do it?

Don't put it past him.

Jenkins enjoyed an outstanding freshman campaign, collecting 31 tackles and five sacks after starting the final six games of the year.

The former Harris County standout made the prediction during a recent interview session. But although sacks are part of his game, Jenkins isn't solely focused on padding those numbers.

He also wants to become a better well-rounded performer, who wants to get better against the run and become a better tackler.

Who will take over the leadership role provided by Jarvis Jones?

Everybody knows the numbers, 14.5 sacks, and the penchant for making big-time plays in key situations Jarvis Jones provided for the Bulldogs last fall.

But it was what fans didn't see that that may be missed the most.

Jones was one of those players who practiced what he preached in regards to preparation and demanded his teammates do the same.

In fact, Jenkins credits Jones for much of his freshman success, simply by staying on him to make sure he did the correct things.

Although it's probably too early to expect any of Georgia's current outside linebackers to assume that role, Jenkins is going to try, although it might be his junior year before he's able to fully assume those leadership reigns.

Who's going to start at Sam linebacker?

This promises to be one of Georgia's better starting battles, to see who starts at the position when the Bulldogs are in their best set.

Right now, there appears to be three main candidates.

Sophomore Josh Dawson played in 13 games last fall, making five tackles, including one for a loss of 1.5 yards. Listed at 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds, Dawson looks even bigger than that.

Another player to watch is fellow sophomore James DeLoach (6-3, 270).

DeLoach's name has been mentioned by defensive coaches on a number of occasion as someone who is making a move, and is currently battling Dawson for the starting role. At 270 pounds, it's certainly not inconceivable that DeLoach could one day move down to end, but for the time being, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said Sam linebacker will be his home.

Come fall, keep an eye on Chase Vasser. Vasser has missed all of the spring while recovering from Labrum surgery but has considerable experience and has been quite successful when he's played.

In five games before getting hurt last year, Vasser made 19 tackles, including four for losses of 11 yards.

Will T. J. Stripling finally have an impact his senior year?


Stripling should get the most PT he's seen since he arrived at Georgia, but he won't beat out Jenkins for the starting role at Will. Coaches still like the former Southwest DeKalb standout, and he was credited with two sacks in Tuesday's scrimmage.

For Stripling, his biggest problem since arriving at Georgia has been putting on the kind of weight he needs to be an effective run stopper. At 6-6 and 235 pounds, Stripling is still considerably bigger than he was when he first arrived in Athens (205 pounds), but still not quite big enough to be an every-down player at the position he plays.

Still, Stripling is certainly a situational player who can be used on passing downs and possesses one of the quicker first steps of any of Georgia's outside linebackers.

Will any true freshmen make an impact?

Shaun McGee (6-3, 233) is a former three-star who was the nation's 25th-ranked outside linebacker prospect in the country, while former Chamblee standout Davin Bellamy was the 25th-ranked defensive end, both according to Rivals.com.

At 6-5 and 235, Bellamy is slated for outside linebacker and will be given a long look when he arrives in June.

Right now, it would not appear that either will be needed to play significant snaps, but Grantham has proven he's not afraid to play true freshmen if they prove they can do the job.