The Georgia Bulldogs entered the 2009 season with ten defensive tackles on roster, four of whom were freshman.
Looking ahead to 2010, the talent is definitely there but it isn’t matched up with the experience or the proven grit that was brought by the departing Geno Atkins or Jeff Owens—as a matter of fact, 2010 will see the departure of four of the ten defensive tackles that were on-roster this season.
This leaves us a bit thin at the spot for 2010 and the Dawgs hope to address the deficiency with the guys they have targeted for this years recruiting class.
So, who is currently “committed” to the Dawgs and who is on their radar?
Prospects and Commits:
Garrison Smith: Douglass High School, Atlanta, GA (verbal committment)
At 6-foot-3, 255 lbs, Smith certainly has good size. However, it wouldn’t hurt to see him gain a few more pounds if Georgia intends to use him at the defensive tackle spot.
Smith is versatile and skilled enough to play either inside at defensive tackle or outside at defensive end so wherever he ends up on the field, he is expected to excel and make an impact on the line.
He’s a dominating pass-rusher and has an excellent nose for the ball carrier in run-support—he doesn’t bite on fakes or reverses and can deliver the big blow with authority.
He’s quick out of his stance and makes great use of his hands when shedding blocks—he can knock an offensive lineman on his backside.
He has been committed to Georgia since July.
Michael Thornton: Stephenson High School, Stone Mountain, GA (prospect)
On film, Thornton stands out. He looks like a load but plays much quicker than his size suggests.
He’s got nice quickness off the snap and good burst towards the ball in run support.
Thornton needs to bulk up just a little bit but he would slot perfectly into the nose guard position of the 4-3. He’s got nice hands and is more than capable of shedding the double-team—a bit more time in the weight room should add to what is already a strong frame.
Currently, Georgia is in the mix for Thornton and, current Georgia commit, Garrison Smith would like to see Thornton join him in Athens next season.
The two would make a nice tandem as Smith is ideally suited as a three-technique defensive tackle.
Jeffrey Whitaker: Warner Robins High School, Warner Robins, GA
Whitaker is a beast. Period. He’s already an intimidating 6-foot-4, 295 lb, specimen of a young man and he uses every advantage that his size gives him on the defensive line.
His strengths are simple: he’s huge and he knows how to exploit those playing opposite him on the field by overpowering them at the point of attack.
He moves well laterally and does not get knocked out of position easily.
If there is a weakness, it’s in his technique. He needs to develop more moves to help him get beyond the line of scrimmage as it will be more difficult to bowl people over at the next level.
As of right now, it is any body’s guess as to where Whitaker will land in 2010 but, Georgia is definitely on his radar and is in the mix for his services.
Whitaker lists the possibility of playing early as a strong plus for the Dawgs.
Stay tuned for more recruiting info as we head into the long march toward National Signing Day 2010.
*Photo courtesy of Brant Sanderlin/AJC.Com