August 1st marked the start of fall camp for the Georgia Bulldogs, and one of the main stories surrounding the defense is that of the outside linebackers. The majority of Georgia’s new defense is composed of younger players, but the new guys show much promise for the future of the program, especially on the outside.
Georgia’s defense, under defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, has had much success the past few seasons in terms of the production of its outside linebackers. Justin Houston and Jarvis Jones stand out as two key former players. Houston, who is now in his second year with the Chiefs, started all 13 games in his final season at Georgia. He ended the 2010 season with 67 tackles, including 10 sacks. Jones, who was drafted by the Steelers in the 2012 draft, recorded 13 ½ sacks in 2011, ranking first in the SEC, and 14 ½ sacks in 2012, finishing first in the NCAA. Houston and Jones gave the Bulldogs three consecutive seasons in which an OLB had 10 or more sacks.
Heading into 2013, Jordan Jenkins, a 6-foot-2, 246-pound senior, will need to step up as the power player for the Bulldogs. Due to Georgia’s 3-4 defense, Jenkins has that much more pressure on him to be on top of game.
In July, he was named to the watch list for the Butkus Award, which recognizes the top linebacker in the country. Jenkins had an impressive freshman year, recording 31 tackles, including 5 sacks, and starting in 6 out of the 14 games he played. His big moment came during last season’s Kentucky game when Jones sat out with an ankle injury, giving Jenkins a chance to start in his position. The next week, Jenkins joined Jones at OLB.
In addition to Jenkins, James DeLoach and Chase Vasser will provide support at the OLB position. The size of both Vasser and DeLoach match up well with Jenkins and will benefit the Bulldogs. DeLoach is 6-foot-3, 265 pounds, while Vasser is 6-foot-3, 219 pounds.
Vasser had 19 tackles in 5 games last year, before undergoing shoulder surgery later in the season. DeLoach played defensive end in high school but worked as an OLB in his freshman year at Georgia, making 4 tackles in 13 games; he recorded 6 tackles in the spring game. DeLoach and Vasser will alternate throughout the season at OLB.
OLB stories from fall camp:
Georgia’s new OLBs have been impressing coaches at camp, particularly Leonard Floyd. Like Jenkins, DeLoach and Vasser, size is one of Floyd’s strong points. He is a strong, 6-foot-4, 220-pound freshman who has been getting much practice in the preseason. In addition to Floyd, Davin Bellamy will most likely be an asset to the rebuilding of Georgia’s defense. Bellamy, a 6-foot-5, 235-pound freshman, underwent shoulder surgery in the offseason and has been wearing a non-contact jersey during these first few practices.
Both Bellamy and DeLoach are currently dealing with thumb injuries and will undergo surgery on Monday.
In addition to Floyd and Bellamy, one of the main stories from camp has been the use of DE Josh Dawson in the OLB position. During practice, he’s been working with the defensive ends but has also been getting some work with the outside linebackers. Dawson will primarily work as a DE, but having him as a versatile player gives Georgia more options when it comes to defense.
Georgia’s OLBs have the size, speed, and strength that will be crucial to the defense’s success this season.