According to Defensive Line Coach
Ryan Nielsen, that knowledge has propelled them to a spring performance level
he can hang his hat on.
Ive seen improvement every day,
said Nielsen, in his second year as the Rebel DL mentor. They have given
us great effort as a group. They have been ready to roll at every practice and
they are a physical, tough bunch of players.
pointed to the March 25 scrimmage effort to prove his point.
line recorded eight quarterback sacks that day. Thats a good days
work in anyones book, he explained. We dont have the experience
we had last year, but we have several kids with good experience who understand
the effort required to succeed on this level.
The following is
a breakdown of Nielsens DL depth chart and a few comments on each player:
End Peria Jerry Sophomore, 6-2, 290 What a treat
he is to coach, said Neilsen. Peria is tremendously quick, strong
and talented. He has progressed the most of any player from last season until
the end of spring. Peria is a difference-maker, a potentially dominant player.
Hes had a great spring. The good thing about him is that he has proven to
this staff that he can play any position on the DL. We wanted to see if he could
handle DE. We already knew he could handle DT. He can do either and that versatility
is extremely valuable when we start putting the finishing touches on the team
in August. Whats been doubly gratifying is that Peria now understands the
tempo needed on this level and hes delivering that.
Viciente DeLoach Junior, 6-4, 260 Viciente put on some weight during
the offseason and thats helped his game versus the run, Nielsen stated.
Hes gotten better since last season. He just needs to keep working
at it and he will help us in the fall.
Hayward Howard Sophomore, 6-4, 300 Hayward started out the
spring as a number two guy, but quickly moved up to number one. Hes big,
strong, quick hes got it all, Ryan said. He gives us
that big presence at DT. I also like the way he can get in the backfield
in a hurry. And the upside is that he will only get better and better. Hes
impressed us in just one spring and hes still got a lot to learn.
Trey Poole Sophomore, 6-3, 260 Trey was moved over from offensive
line this spring and has given us great effort. Hes out there every day
giving us everything hes got, stated Ryan. I like kids who love
the game and Trey does.
Nose Tackle Brandon Jenkins
Junior, 6-5, 280 Brandon has done a good job inside this spring.
Hes extremely talented, he hasnt missed any work and hes been
physical this spring, Nielsen evaluated. Hes had a good spring,
but we are hoping for a great August. We need him to keep plugging and improving.
Jeremy Garrett Junior, 6-1, 285 Jeremy turned it on midway through
the spring and has played extremely well. Hes becoming a great technician
and the extra weight hes put on has helped him prove to us he can be an
every-play guy, said Neilsen. Jeremy is tough and physical and strong.
I like what he has done this spring and look for him to continue on that path
through August and the 2006 season.
Leo End Chris Bowers
Sophomore, 6-2, 237 Chris has put on some weight which has
helped him playing the run. Hes stronger now and it shows in his play,
Neilsen added. He had a lot of sacks and pressures in spring and hes
good off the edge. The bigger and stronger he gets, the better hell be,
but I can already tell a substantial difference in his production this spring
versus last season.
LeRon King Sophomore, 6-0, 212
We moved LeRon from linebacker to defensive end this spring to give us a
pass rush specialist from the LEO slot, Ryan explained. He has tremendous
get off. Hes undersized, but he doesnt let that stop him from making
plays, which is what this game is all about. He could be a guy who comes in on
third down and gets some QB sacks for us. Plus, hes an excellent special
Our Take: Hayward Howard could well end up as
a rock in the middle, the kind of guy who draws double teams and makes
everyone else around him a little bit better because of the extra attention he
draws. Jerry is angling to become not only the Most Improved Player of spring,
but also The Most Valuable. His realization of the needed tempo to go along with
his immense ability is a dynamite combination. He could very well be a disruptor
type of talent in 2006. Its good to see Bowers gain some weight so he can
hold up against the run more effectively. Ditto on Jeremy Garrett, who was very
good for 20 or so plays a game last year, but needs to be able to go for 50 in
2006. But perhaps one of the more pleasant surprises of spring happened late in
the session, when junior Brandon Jenkins was moved from backup DT to first-team
nose tackle. If Brandon can harness his talent and become more consistent play-in
and play-out, he would give a tremendous boost to the DL. Things are coming together
nicely at DL and with the influx of young talent like Jerrell Powe, Marcus Tillman,
Kentrell Lockett and Greg Hardy, the DL should be productive in 2006.