Commits Wait, Wonder About 3-4

ATHENS – Georgia's defensive players have been wondering who would be their coach in the coming years for most of the last six weeks. Now they are wondering just where they fit in to the 3-4 scheme of Todd Grantham.

In fact, most of the defensive recruits have yet to meet their soon-to-be coaches – Grantham and defensive back coach Scott Lakatos – but those meetings will take place in the coming days or as late as next week many of them say.

As of Wednesday night no player reached by Dawg Post had met one of the two new defensive coaches in person – probably because both have just been hired and Grantham was coaching for the Cowboys on Sunday. But that doesn't mean the prospects were uninterested in meeting their future coaches – if for no other reason than to figure out just which position they will be playing in the new defensive scheme.

"I want to play the Monster," said four-star defensive line recruit Garrison Smith, which is one of the middle linebacker spots. "If that does not work I want to play in the secondary with Alec."

Both seem unlikely, but Smith did admit that he's eager to meet Grantham, who he expects to be in Athens this weekend when the Atlanta native arrives for his official visit.

"I think he will be there when I get up there, and I am sure we will talk about where I will be playing then," Smith said.

T.J. Stripling is one of several players who could play the Jack position in the 3-4

Like most of Georgia's defensive front, that seems to be somewhat in the air. Smith is not expected to play the nose guard spot, but could line up with his hand in the ground on the outside of the defensive line – playing a three technique – or, if he has his way, he could end up at the Jack spot, which is reserved for bigger hybrid defensive ends and linebackers.

"I am a big fan of Demarcus Ware," Smith admitted. "I would love to get the chance to do something like he does for Dallas."

Smith, like Ware, is listed in the 6-3, 260 range. But Smith is projected to be in the 290-pound range when he plays for the Red and Black, and seems destined for the defensive line.

For Marc Deas, a six-foot, 180-pound safety from near Orlando, the anticipation is more about meeting Lakatos than anything else.

"I am going to have to get used to saying that name," Deas said after a few unsuccessful attempts.

Deas said he knew the process of hiring coaches was going to be a lengthy one, and that Mark Richt told him that he had "a stack of people interested in coming to Georgia" for both positions.

"I knew that he would do the right thing for Georgia," Deas said. "Georgia has told me that they will be coming down with the new coaches sometime next week."

For other players the move to the 3-4 will mean a chance to play in a spot they have been eager to try for some time.

"I know that T.J. is happy about the move to a 3-4 because he didn't want to put his hand on the ground all of the time," Smith said of Southwest DeKalb's T.J. Stripling.

Alec Ogletree could play safety or outside linebacker at Georgia

Stripling was recruited by Alabama, the only other school in the SEC to run a 3-4, for their Jack spot. But he will not be the only one vying for one of the new spots in the 3-4. If moving to the 3-4 in the future was something Georgia wanted to do they did a good job of recruiting for it – even before they even knew they were moving that way.

"It is a little different for me," Brandon Burrows, who plays defensive end for Walton, admitted. "I am very open-minded about it. I thought I would be a defensive end, but to play outside linebacker is fine with me."

Burrows said he followed the search for the coordinator, like the rest of the Bulldog Nation, and when he thought Alabama's Kirby Smart was on the way to Georgia he figured he would play the Jack linebacker position.

"When I heard Coach Smart was a possible candidate I knew I would play the Jack for him," Burrows said. "Then when Coach Richt hired Coach Grantham it was like nothing had changed from when I thought Coach Smart was coming because I knew he was bringing in the 3-4."

The Bulldogs have 19 players currently committed to them, and eight of them will likely play in the front seven. That means of the Dawgs' 2010 recruiting class as it stands right now 42% of the players will be directly affected by the change in defensive scheme.

Smith, Stripling, safety/outside linebacker Alec Ogletree, Dexter Morant, Deon Rogers, Jalen Fields, Brandon Burrows and Demetre Baker will all likely play in the front seven in the coming years. That number could be considered higher, but Zander Ogletree, who is listed as a middle linebacker by, will likely get his first shot to play as at fullback at Georgia. The Bulldogs are still looking to sign a true nose guard, too.

"I know I am not going to be a nose," Smith said. "I can't see that."

What Georgia fans could see, however, is Warner Robbins defensive lineman Jeffery Whitaker or Stephenson defensive lineman Mike Thornton claim that spot a few days before Signing Day.

Dawg Post Top Stories