March 26, 2009

Scouting the Defensive Ends

Break? You don't need a stinking break.

Redshirt freshman Jeremy Longo laughed during an interview with UGASports, stating that's pretty much been the deal for him and the rest of the defensive ends during the first week of spring practice.

"We're getting a lot (of reps)," Longo said. "Since we've only got two rotations, they're (Justin Houston andDemarcus Dobbs) going with the first group and we're (Kiante Tripp and Longo) are going with the second. It's like three times as much last year, but then again we had a lot more guys out here, too."

That's the not the case right now.

With Roderick Battle, Cornelius Washington, Neland Ball and Matthew DeGenova out for the spring while recovering from various injuries, Longo and company have been having to carry the load by themselves.

But he isn't complaining.

"It gets tiring and we get beat up, but like Coach (Jon) Fabris says we have to pull our own weight," Longo said. "That's what we're trying to do."

Today, UGASports takes a look at the four defensive ends that have to hold down the fort until the rest of their injured teammates return, their progress, and what we might expect from them this fall.

Jeremy Longo (6-foot-3, 252), Redshirt freshman - Injuries (shoulder and concussion) severely limited what Longo was able to learn on the practice field as a true freshman but so far this spring appears to be making up for lost time.

The Ft. Lauderdale native has some of the quickest hands and slowly but surely is picking up the scheme and will provide quality depth for the Bulldogs at the position this fall.

"I feel like getting better out there every day. The extra reps are definitely helping me a lot," Longo said. "I just want to get better and help those guys any way I can. Even if it's just for a few plays to give them a break, that's fine with me."

Kiante Tripp (6-6, 290), Junior - After a season of bouncing around between offensive tackle, tight end and back to offensive tackle, Tripp believes he's finally back home after moving back to the position he originally signed to play coming out of Westlake High.

So far, Tripp has been relatively impressive. During a recent 11-on-11 drill, Tripp got the best of center Ben Jones, knocking him backwards, although Jones later returned the favor. After a season of not playing the position, Tripp is still adjusting to the different nuances it takes to be a successful defensive end. However, teammates have commented that they've been impressed with his hustle and desire and Tripp should see his share of backup action for the Bulldogs this fall.

Demarcus Dobbs (6-2, 282), Junior - Dobbs is enjoying a solid spring for the Bulldogs and will no doubt be battling for one of the two starting positions come fall.

Besides being a tremendously gifted athlete as evidenced by his game-saving interception against Kentucky, Dobbs is developing into quite the leader for the entire defense.

"Demarcus and Justin both have done a great job leading Kiante and I and helping us out," Longo said. "Anything we mess up they're right there to help make sure we don't make the same mistakes again."

Justin Houston (6-3, 264), Redshirt sophomore - Coaches still believe that Houston can develop into the type of defensive end that's capable of putting extreme pressure on opposing quarterback and so far this spring, improvements have been made.

As Houston becomes more accustomed to the position, the former linebacker is getting more comfortable with the proper technique, and as a result, fans should start noticing a noticeable difference with his play this fall.

The Statesboro native started one game for Georgia last fall, and like Dobbs, will be in line to stake an early claim come preseason. He's definitely already on the right track.



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