December 16, 2010

Nose a position of need for Dawgs

NCAA rules prohibit coaches from talking about specific recruits,

but both defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and defensive line coach Rodney Garner make no bones about the position where the Bulldogs could definitely use some help - nose.

"I think it's critical. You like to have a stout guy there who is going to command a double-team, who can hold the point versus the double-team. I think if we're able to get that kind of guy it will actually make us better and move some guys around to make us stouter at the defensive end position," Garner said. "That's your goal. In the ideal world that's what you hope for, but the reality is we've got to close it and we've got to get one. I think we've got our eyes on it, but until we do, it doesn't matter."

Garner isn't knocking the current Bulldogs at the position there now.

DeAngelo Tyson did an admirable job, but at 295 pounds, doesn't fit the big, physical mode. Kwame Geathers still has a bright future, but as a redshirt freshman, there's much he yet must learn. Coaches moved Justin Anderson to nose, but he was knocked out after undergoing surgery on his toe and still has much to learn after playing on offense his first three years in the program. There's also redshirting freshman Mike Thornton who is being groomed for the position, and verbal commitment Chris Mayes.

But a few extra bodies -especially one big one - wouldn't hurt.

"All the teams that run the 3-4, that's the commodity," Garner said. "I hate to sit there and say it, but it is a commodity. It's the missing piece, the missing link to us being able to take this defense to the next level. I think they improved as the year went on, but they still miss that clog."

Grantham agrees.

"I hear people talk about that. I think in general you need size inside. I don't care if you play a 4-3 or a 3-4. If you look at all the good 4-3 teams, they're going to have some physicality inside," Grantham said. "Because you're a 3-4, you've got just the one guy inside. But to be good on defense in general, you've got to have some stoutness inside."

The Bulldogs hope junior college star Johnathan Jenkins is the answer.

At 6-foot-4 and 340 pounds, the Gulf Coast Community College (Miss.) star possesses the exact qualities that Grantham and Garner desire.

There's just one problem.

Jenkins is currently a verbal commitment to Oklahoma State, although his recruitment remains open following a recent visit to Athens to meet Georgia coaches and to view the Bulldogs' facilities.

The true test, however, will come Saturday when Garner and Grantham travel to his home in Connecticut to meet the family and most importantly, Jenkins' mom.

"The visit with Georgia was pretty sweet. Coach Grantham, the defensive coordinator, and Coach Garner, the defensive line coach, told me how much they liked me and what they wanted to do with me as far as their plans for next year," Jenkins told UGASports. "They said I was the best guy on their board and that they could use me at the nose right away. They like my agility and said they could really use me in their nickel package as well. They feel their scheme will help me in the long run," said Jenkins. "They told me they knew I had plans on getting to the NFL, and they feel they could definitely get me there."

Although Garner isn't allowed to speak about Jenkins specifically, Georgia's desire to have a player of his caliber is unmistaken.

According to Garner it could be a difference-maker.

Just ask Alabama and the impact made by former standout Terrence Cody, whose impact at nose helped lead the Crimson Tide to the 2009 national crown.

"You've got to have the stoutness to do it first, but the guy's also got to have the tools, "Garner said. "You look at Alabama when (Nick) Saban first got there and the difference once they signed Mt. Cody. It's a different world, and that's what you'd like to have, that different world."

As for Geathers, Garner said the redshirt freshman from Carver's Bay, S.C. could still be that player.

"I know that's a lot of pressure on him, because you want him to be that guy right now and right now he's not that guy. It's not to say he can't be that in the future, but I think we lose sight that hey, he is a freshman," Garner said. "If he will keep working and keep improving, improve his knowledge and fundamentals - that's critical for him to be successful. For him to be the player he wants to be and for him to be the player we want him to be, he has to improve in both those areas."


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