March 28, 2009
Written/compiled by David Yancey
Junior Derrick Morgan – a 6-4, 270-pound defensive end – is the only returning starter on the Georgia Tech defensive line. Morgan and the new line will have big shoes to fill with Michael Johnson, Vance Walker, and Darryl Richard all likely moving on to the NFL. We had a chance to sit down with Derrick and ask him about his new role on the defensive front, his goals for the spring, and how he ended up on the Flats.
Q: Last year, there were three senior starters on the defensive line. This season, you will move into a leadership role on the line. How do you plan to handle this new role?
A: I just plan on doing whatever is asked of me. I will try and go out every day and work hard. I want to set an example for the younger guys by just working hard.
Q: Naturally, with the three defensive line starters graduating, there will be some new faces trying to get to the opposing quarterback. Who are some not-so-familiar guys that Tech fans will have to look out for next season?
A: I’m sure Tech fans already know about Robert Hall. He is probably stepping into a starting position. I would also definitely look out for Ben Anderson, T.J. Barnes, Anthony Egbuniwe and others to step up and make some big time plays.
Q: Not many people expected Tech to finish at 9-4 last season and you probably flew under the radar. This season, the Yellow Jackets will have bigger targets on their backs. How do you prepare to lead the team to an even better season?
A: That is just some adversity we will have to deal with. We kind of came out of nowhere last year, but now we’re going to be a target for people. They know what we are about and they know Georgia Tech runs the option. However, we are going to handle adversity like we always handle adversity. We need to go out there and do what we need to do to win games.
Q: Some people think you might make a great fullback. Do you think that you can talk Coach Johnson into letting you play a few snaps on the offensive side of the ball?
A: (Smile) I already tried asking him for a few short yardage downs to try and get the ball. I told him I will at least get three yards and fall for two more. I am still in the convincing stages now though.
Q: Last season, you recovered four fumbles, which tied for the most in the ACC. How do you happen to be in the right place at the right time?
A: My mindset is that I always try and get where the ball is at, wherever I am on the field. Last year, I just ended up in the right place at the right time four times.
Q: What are some of your individual goals this year as far as number of sacks or number of tackles for loss?
A: As far as sacks, I want to get in the double digit numbers. Basically, I just want every stat area to increase: tackles for loss, tackles, forced fumbles, and fumble recoveries.
Q: What are some of the things you want to work on this spring?
A: Just working to get back healthy, and getting my groin healed. I tweaked my groin a little bit, but I am getting better. Also, getting my quickness and speed down, and getting better on my pass rush.
Q: What do you like most about Coach Johnson and how he runs the team?
A: He’s fair in everything he does. I like that about him.
Q: Growing up in Pennsylvania, how did you escape Coach Paterno of Penn State and end up here at Georgia Tech?
A: That’s a question I get asked a lot being from Pennsylvania. Being the hometown kid, everybody says you go to Penn State. But I just felt like Georgia Tech had more to offer me, as far as academics and being in Atlanta. Also, just the chemistry I had coming in with my classmates.
Q: Alright, Derrick, where do your allegiances lie on Sunday’s during the fall?
A: As far as the NFL, I like the 49ers. I know it’s kind of crazy, but I just grew up liking the 49ers with Jerry Rice and Steve Young. I have always been a 49ers fan.