Post-spring primer: Linebackers

semerson@macon.comMay 11, 2014 

Inside linebacker coach Mike Ekeler and defensive assistant Kevin Sherrer during Georgia's spring game in April.

JOHN KELLEY — John Kelley / UGA Sports Communi

The latest installment of our position-by-position look at the Georgia football team following spring practice.

JACK (OUTSIDE) LINEBACKERS
Starter:
Jordan Jenkins, Jr.
Top backup(s): Davin Bellamy, R-Fr.
On the way: Lorenzo Carter, Fr.
The skinny: The terminology has changed under the new defensive staff; this spot used to be the Will, but now it’s the Jack. But the gist of the position hasn’t changed, as it’s focused more on pass-rushing, and falls more under assistant coach Tracy Rocker’s position responsibility. But Jenkins and Leonard Floyd may trade spots a bunch. Either way, those two are poised to see the majority of playing time, while Bellamy played so well during the spring that the coaches want to find a way to get him on the field.
What happens next: Carter, as mentioned in the previous post-spring primer, is ticketed for either defensive end or outside linebacker. He may play both, as will fellow incoming freshman Keyon Brown. For all of Georgia’s uncertainty and problems on defense, the major problem at the outside linebacker spot seems to be finding playing time for a lot of talented players.
Coachspeak: “A guy like Davin Bellamy, he’s a guy that’s made improvement, he can possibly put his hand down in the ground and rush. Then we have Jordan Jenkins, and so Jordan and Leonarrd have done it before. Then we have a lot of guys who can do it.” - Rocker

SAM (OUTSIDE) LINEBACKERS
Starter:
Leonard Floyd, Soph.
Top backup(s): Johnny O’Neal, Soph.; and Shaun McGee, R-Fr.
Also in the room: Dillard Pinkston, R-Soph. (walk-on.)
On the way: Keyon Brown, Fr.
The skinny: Floyd was recruited by Jeremy Pruitt when he was at Alabama, and new assistant coach Kevin Sherrer didn’t hide his feeling that Floyd has all-SEC potential. The Sam linebacker has more pass coverage responsibilities, but there’s little doubt that if Floyd lines up at this spot he’ll be unleashed on the quarterback on a regular basis. As for O’Neal and McGee, they appeared to have quiet springs, not necessarily for bad reasons. But it was Bellamy who made the biggest leap.
What happens next: The coaches try to figure out how to use everybody. Some of the outside linebackers could spend a lot of time at defensive end. Some may move to the middle of the field in certain packages. They could get creative with five-man fronts. A lot of things are on the table.

INSIDE LINEBACKER
Starter:
Amarlo Herrera, Sr.
Top backup(s): Reggie Carter, Soph.
The skinny: Georgia will enter next season with two returning senior starters at inside linebacker. Maybe the ceiling isn’t as high talent-wise as it is at outside linebacker, but the team knows what it’s going to get out of these two spots – at least from the starters. The depth hasn’t developed yet.

INSIDE LINEBACKER
Starter:
Ramik Wilson, Sr.
Top backup(s): Carter.
Also in the room: Tim Kimbrough, Soph.; Ryne Rankin, Soph.; Kosta Vavlas, Sr.
On the way: Detric Dukes, Fr.
The skinny: Carter is clearly the top reserve, and could push for playing time if Pruitt and assistant coach Mike Ekeler rotate at the two inside spots. Kimbrough and Rankin also seemed to have solid springs, but at this point are still a tier behind Carter. Kimbrough seemed to be getting most of the second-team work alongside Carter. The transfer of Paris Bostick during spring practice took away some depth.
What happens next: There’s room for Kimbrough, Rankin, or even Vavlas or Dukes to push their way up the depth chart. The main question for the preseason, which may not truly be answered until the season begins, is just how much subbing will happen, and thus how many snaps will be available to players not named Amarlo or Ramik. Last year there were hardly any.
Coachspeak: “We’re a ways off, but you kind of anticipate being a ways off right now. We have to have a great summer, and then we’ve gotta have a great fall camp, and then we’ll get them right where we want them.” –Ekeler.

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