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Defensive Line Relies on Speed over Size

Aug. 19, 2003

Georgia Tech’s youthful defensive line will rely on speed and quickness rather than size, says Tech head coach Chan Gailey.

“We’re not the biggest defensive line and we don’t have a lot of depth, so we need to stay healthy and we need to stay on the move,” said Gailey. “We’re not going to be able to sit there and play to toe-to-toe and facemask-to-facemask with people. We’ve got to stay on the move defensively.

“Speed is one of our assets, so we’ve got to use it.”

The defensive line is also Tech’s youngest position with three sophomores and one freshman expected to be in the starting lineup on opening day.

Tech returns two starters on the defensive front in sophomores Eric Henderson and Travis Parker. Henderson, a 6-3, 265-pound defensive end from New Orleans, La., is Tech’s top returning pass rusher after recording five sacks and 15 tackles for loss last fall. He earned Freshman All-America and All-ACC honors.

Parker, a 6-5, 275-pound tackle, also started last year as a redshirt freshman and had five tackles for loss and two sacks.

New to the defensive line this year is 6-3, 230-pound sophomore Gerris Wilkinson, who moved from outside linebacker to defensive end this summer. Senior Ather Brown stepped into Wilkinson’s former spot at outside linebacker.

“We were fortunate to have a veteran guy like Ather Brown who could step in and play at linebacker, which made it easier to move Gerris,” said Gailey.

“Gerris gives us a lot of speed, especially in our pass rush off the corner. Really, he can get a little bigger. When he was at linebacker, he had to fight to stay under 230.”

True freshman Mansfield Wrotto, 6-3, 300, is the likely candidate to start at the other defensive tackle position when the Yellow Jackets open the season on Aug. 28 at Brigham Young.

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