When Johnathan Jenkins signed his scholarship last month to play nose for Georgia, senior DeAngelo Tyson gave a quiet fist pump.
This was news worth celebrating.
Don't get Tyson wrong; the Statesboro native said he'd play nose again in a heartbeat if asked by defensive coordinator Todd Grantham or position coach Rodney Garner. But thanks to Jenkins' arrival in June, Tyson will get to slide over to defensive end - a position he admits he's more comfortable playing.
"I was (excited), but we lost three seniors so it's all about depth if you want to have a good defensive line," Tyson said. "Adding him to our depth is a good thing. Everybody talks about the nose. To me, it's all about depth."
Depth is certainly a top priority when you're talking about the defensive line.
The Bulldogs weren't exactly deep at the position last year and enter the 2011 campaign minus three players who saw their fair share of minutes - Demarcus Dobbs, Kiante Tripp and Brandon Wood.
So even with the arrival of Jenkins and freshman Chris Mayes, depth will again be an area of concern, particularly since Justin Anderson has moved back to the offensive line, where as of Saturday he was running with the first unit at right guard.
Tyson knows it will be imperative that all available hands be able to carry their weight.
"When game time comes people get winded and you just can't play the first string; you've got to have enough guys to come in and give those first string people a break," Tyson said. "We've got Jenkins and we've got Kwame (Geathers) at nose; Derrick Lott is becoming a better player. We've got Mike Thornton and Garrison (Smith) learning what to do. We've got to get everybody playing; if we can do that it will be an advantage for everybody."
But make no mistake.
Having Jenkins anchor the defensive line at nose will be imperative to the Bulldogs on a number of fronts - from stopping the run which the team struggled doing last fall, to help get more of a push from the defensive interior, something that was virtually non-existent for Georgia in 2010.
"Coaches have told us we needed to win more one-on-ones this year. We've been working hard at pass rushing," Tyson said. "I think we've been doing a good job with that as we do our drills, our one-on-one and pass rush drills against the offensive line."
At 350 pounds apiece, Geathers and Jenkins will certainly bring plenty of beef to a position that Tyson played last fall at 295.
Although Tyson said it's possible to play nose with a "smaller" frame, he believes having two players with the bulk of Jenkins and Geathers will make the rest of the line's job much easier.
"Nose is tough, taking all those double team and triple teams. You're getting beat on the whole game, so it's pretty tough," he said. "It's possible (to play at 295) but you've got to have the right attitude. You can't be like 'Oh, man, I've got to play nose.' You should be happy you're playing nose because the team needs you to play nose. If you're a team player you'll do anything to help the team. (Tyson) playing nose last year was helping the team so I'm glad I got that experience, and if I had to play nose again, I'd do it."
Head coach Mark Richt says Jenkins' impending arrival has helped spur Geathers to improve.
"I would think so, yeah," Richt said. "I think the class that we signed in general is helping motivate the guys we have right now to try to keep them at bay."
Tyson has noticed a change in Geathers' performance as well.
"I think Kwame is more motivated now. He's progressing, working hard; he wants to learn and he wants to be taught what to do," Tyson said. "If anybody has the right attitude, good things are going to happen and I think Kwame has the right attitude for good things to happen to him."
As for Tyson, he's undergone some changes of his own.
Thanks to the winter strength program, Tyson has added 10 pounds to his 6-foot-2 frame and now weighs a trim 305.
As for that move to defensive end, he's got no complaints about that, either.
"Since I played nose last year, I really didn't have to worry about end, but now I'm learning more than I did last year about end," he said. "These past few days have just been about me learning and it's been a good couple of days."
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