Jackets Deep in Defensive Ends

March 30, 2007

PLEASE NOTE:

Tech fans attending Saturday’s scrimmage (11 a.m.) are asked to enter Bobby Dodd Stadium via Gate 4 and sit in the lower West Stands.

ATLANTA–Defensive end is one of the deeper positions on the Georgia Tech roster, and Yellow Jacket head coach Chan Gailey says it’s a nice problem to have.

“You can never have too many defensive ends,” said Gailey, whose Yellow Jackets continued spring practice Friday.

Tech returns its top three players at defensive end, including senior all-Atlantic Coast Conference honoree Adamm Oliver. Senior Darrell Robertson is another returning starter, and top backup Michael Johnson, a pass rush specialist, was second on the team last fall with five sacks even though he only started one game.

Oliver, a two-year starter from New Port Richey, Fla., and Tech’s biggest returnee at 6-4 and 265 pounds, was the Jackets’ fourth-leading tackler last season with 70 and ranked second on the team with 11 tackles for loss, including 3.5 sacks. He has 22.5 career tackles for loss.

Robertson, from Jonesboro, Ga., added seven tackles for loss with three sacks.

With Oliver and Johnson currently nursing injuries, the Jackets have a chance to develop even more depth at the position with sophomore Robert Hall and true freshman Derrick Morgan, a 2007 signee, taking advantage of the extra reps.

“For Robert Hall and Derrick Morgan to get as many reps as they’re getting helps them tremendously,” said Gailey. “The good thing is that they’re playing with veterans like Darrell Robertson and [defensive tackle] Darryl Richard and other guys who have played a lot. They’re hearing the right calls and the other guys are going to be in the right spot, so now they’ve got to be in the right spot.”

Hall earned playing time on special teams as a true freshman last fall but will look to make an impact on defense this spring.

Morgan, a highly touted signee from Coatesville, Pa., who enrolled this semester, is off to a good start.

“I’ve been very impressed so far,” Gailey said of the 6-4, 270-pound Morgan. “There are a lot of guys who are big and strong, but you’ve got to be able to move in this game, and he can move, in addition to being big and strong.”

Gailey said he is not concerned with the “hype” that accompanies a highly-publiczed recruit like Morgan, who was rated the No. 1 prospect in the state of Pennsylvania by Rivals.

“First of all, the expectations are from the outside,” said Gailey. “He has high expectations of himself, and we know he’s going to be a good football player eventually. But we’re not putting the pressure on him to be a great player or a starter this year. Now if he does, great. But if doesn’t, that’s okay too. We’re not putting any undue expectations on him at this point.”

If Morgan develops into a contributor this season, he gives Tech another quality player at a position that is already strong.

“It’s very good,” said Gailey. “It depends on the team you’re playing. If you’re playing a physical team that runs the ball, you can keep people fresh and you can get the bigger guys in there more often. Then they go to passing situations, and the faster guys can go in and be fresh. It’s great to be able to match what the other team is doing with size or speed.”

The Jackets are scheduled to scrimmage Saturday morning at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field, beginning at 11 a.m. Tech fans attending the scrimmage are asked to enter via Gate 4 on Bobby Dodd Way and sit in the lower West stands.

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