‘Blue-collar group’ out to fill Morgan’s shoes
“The Replacements” series is The Telegraph’s weekly look at the key players and personalities slated to fill four of the biggest spots vacated this offseason by former Georgia Tech players turned NFL stars. In the first installment, The Telegraph examined the receivers slated to take over for departed wide out and West Laurens product Demaryius Thomas. The second story looked at the mix of safeties vying for Morgan Burnett’s position. In this third piece, candidates hoping to fill Derrick Morgan’s shoes at defensive end are examined.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
ATLANTA — Andy McCollum would consider himself a football guy.
He’d likely call himself the type of gritty, down-to-earth, jammed knuckles, blood-and-dirt-under-the-nails kind of guy who thinks every football player should be born with those characteristics only.
Only thing is, not every football personality is made alike.
To that end, the assistant coach understands that not all of his Georgia Tech defensive linemen were created the way he wants. So he is on a mission to mold them into the smash mouth, clock-punching unit he desires.
“We’ve got a group that’s going to be a blue collar group, a hard-working group,” the defensive line coach said. “They’re going to have to be a group that’s going to have to have a high motor every play and we’re just going to be a bunch of guys that grind and grind and grind.”
If that happens for 12 regular season games, he could have Yellow Jackets fans close to saying “Derrick, who?” by the end of the year.
That, however, could be a very difficult task.
Derrick Morgan, Georgia Tech’s quarterback-devouring, tackle-slipping defensive end from a year ago earned so much respect around the football world that he was selected in the first round of April’s NFL draft by the Tennessee Titans. A player with promise before he even stepped foot on campus, Morgan was widely regarded as the best player on Georgia Tech’s defensive line — his sophomore year. That same season, three other soon-to-be professional talents lurked nearby.
So, like replacing receiver Demaryius Thomas and safety Morgan Burnett, replacing Morgan won’t be easy. One could argue that because of the legacy the reigning ACC defensive player of the year is leaving, it shouldn’t be; at least, it shouldn’t be for one person.
“It’s not going to be anyone’s individual effort,” defensive end Jason Peters said. “It’s going to be us as a team, us as a defense that’s going to go out and do what it takes to win.”
There’s McCollum’s blue-collar mentality.....
For more on this story, read tomorrow's Telegraph and come back to macon.com.