Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham makes no pretenses about what he expects from junior college signee Johnathan Jenkins at nose this fall.
"I expect him to come in here and be an immediate impact," Grantham shrugged during his pre-spring briefing with reporters.
But it's not like the 6-foot-4, 340-pounder is being viewed as a savior for the Bulldog defensive line at nose.
He's going to need some help, and as the Bulldogs get ready to start spring practice on Thursday, Grantham thinks redshirt sophomore Kwame Geathers is ready to be that man and help provide the muscle Georgia sometimes lacked at the position last year.
"I will say that I've been pleased with Kwame Geathers in the off-season. I think he's busted his tail and I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do in the spring," Grantham said. "I think competition makes everybody better, it makes us all better and I expect Big Jenks to come in here and compete, and be the type of player who can help us be successful on defense."
As for Geathers, the Carvers Bay, S.C. native only saw action in eight games for the Bulldogs as he struggled to keep his pad level low enough to compete on a consistent enough level play in and play out.
But still, Grantham says Geathers has made some important off-season strides.
"I think it was a little bit of everything," said Grantham, when asked what held the redshirt sophomore back last year. "But I think he's worked hard, he's older, he's more mature, he's changed his body a little bit and he's gotten stronger. As he's increased his weight he's decreased his body fat. I've seen him work really hard."
Geathers is listed in Georgia's pre-spring notes as weighing 324 pounds, ensuring the nose position will be packing a lot more weight than it did last year with 295-pound DeAngelo Tyson taking most of the snaps.
Before last season began, Grantham said he felt his 3-4 scheme could be effective with a smaller nose, much like he did with Jay Ratliff during his time with the Dallas Cowboys.
Grantham said he still believes that to be true, having an athlete at nose the caliber and size of Jenkins will give the Bulldogs an added boost along the defensive line.
"You can play with that kind of (smaller) guy, but after going through the tapes I don't think not having a big nose was why we struggled at times. So I think having a guy like Jenkins is going to help us because he's athletic, he's got size and I think he's got range inside which anytime you're playing a defensive line position - if a guy can go from Point A to Point B, tackle to tackle - I think that helps you," Grantham said. "Size does matter, you like to have it, but you don't always need it. There are situations where you can play with a smaller guy but in saying that when we saw Jenkins on tape and I saw his athletic ability, the way he can run, it was just a natural fit."
Having Jenkins at the nose will also give Grantham the flexibility to float Tyson to defensive end, his natural position.
"Tyson has done enough at nose where if we need to put him at nose, we could so I would rather for him to go ahead and play end in the spring and get as many reps there as he can, because as we get going in the fall and rank the guys that we have," Grantham said. "If it shook out that he needed to be a backup for some reason, I think he could go in and do it but we'll keep him at end for right now."
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