April 16, 2013

DeLoach standing out

Linebacker James DeLoach will be the first one to tell you he's not the most flashy football player.

He just tries to get the job done.

"I think I've showed that I'm a very competitive person," the sophomore said recently. "I think I've shown Coach (defensive coordinator Todd Grantham) if I'm shown how to do something I try to do it to the best of my abilities and will keep pushing myself."

Grantham and defensive line coach Chris Wilson were obviously impressed.

When the Bulldogs open preseason drills in August, it's expected that DeLoach will do so tops on the depth chart at Sam linebacker.

"I'm on the first team with the base," said DeLoach, who played in 13 of Georgia's 14 games, mostly on special teams.

"We're going to play him at Sam linebacker and he gives us a physical presence there," said Grantham. "He's between 265 and 270 pounds. I think he's a guy we will be looking for to be a contributor next fall."

Head coach Mark Richt agreed.

"We were thinking when we signed him that he would be an inside linebacker, but he is very good out in space," Richt said. "He comes off the edge and is a good pass rusher. In our first- and second-down stuff, he's more of a Sam linebacker, but when we get in some nickel situations, I think he can provide some rush for us.

"We've got a lot of high hopes for him."

At nearly 270 pounds, many have wondered if Deloach's future might one day be on the defensive line.

According to the former Jenkins County standout, that idea has yet to be broached by coaches, although as DeLoach revealed, he has technically played the position for the Bulldogs before.

"I actually played defensive end against Georgia Tech and I was able to make a few plays," said DeLoach, who had five tackles in G-Day game two weeks ago.

"James is really an instinctive, crafty guy, and he's really hard to block," Grantham said. "He can affect the quarterback, and I think he can do a lot of things for us. He can give us some flexibility."

There's also a fact about DeLoach that some might not be aware of.

Although fellow sophomore Jordan Jenkins gets much of the pub as the expected starter at Will and his close relationship with former teammate Jarvis Jones, it's actually DeLoach who is replacing the All-American.

For Georgia's first seven games of 2012, Jenkins backed up Jones at Will, before Jones shifted to Sam so Jenkins could start at Will for the Bulldogs' remaining seven contests.

"That's kind of crazy, isn't it?" DeLoach smiled. "I just go out and do the best I can."

Along with Dawson, veteran Brandon Burrows also worked out at Sam this spring for the Bulldogs, who are also expected to give newcomers Leonard Floyd and Shaun McGee a look come fall.

"It's a great competition because we're all pushing each other to be the best," DeLoach said. "But at the same time we're trying to win that starting job."