Weston could be the answer in the middle

ATHENS – With the departure of Georgia's two starting defensive tackles, it may be appropriate to ask: "Where's the beef?" The answer is a 300-pound redshirt freshman from New Jersey itching to play his first snaps of college football.

"They expect me to come in there and hold my ground," said redshirt freshman Kade Weston.

He'll have to do just that from now on considering Dale Dixson's apparent move to offense. With Dixson likely gone Weston is fighting Ray Gant and Jeff Owens for a staring defensive tackle job.

"We really need him, and he's going to play big for us," said Georgia head coach Mark Richt.

That's why this time of the year is so critical for Weston. Last August he suffered an injury and never recovered in time to avoid getting tagged with a redshirt. He came in later than the rest of the freshmen because his high school graduation was late. Weston fell behind, but has been catching up ever since. Unlike some big-bodied Bulldog linemen, Weston has not yet been affected by the summer heat.

"That heat is no joke," Weston said with a smile. Conditioning is a major factor for linemen according to Georgia's head coach.

"He got his weight down when he got here," said Richt of Weston's weight. "He got in shape when he got here. Kade has been a model citizen."

Weston's conditioning could pave the way to a starting gig this fall, and his competitors know it. According to Gant, Weston is going to be hard to keep off the field if he can get the playbook down.

"Kade is a grown man," Gant said. "He is definitely going to get a lot of playing time. If he can get the playbook down and learn the defense – his effort, strength and size is all there. He has all the intangibles. Kade is going to see a lot of the field this year."

Weston is Georgia's biggest defensive lineman, and his presence in the middle is critical to Georgia's success against the run. The Bulldogs allowed West Virginia and Auburn to have big running days late last fall, and Richt hopes Weston's development will help shut performances like those down.

"We need a big physical presence in the middle of the defense because of losing Swain, Kedric and Gerald – we lost a lot of beef in there," said Richt.

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