Georgia Tech
Sat, 11/26 on ESPN @5:00 ET
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Pre-spring analysis: A new era for Georgia’s OLBs

Lorenzo Carter is set for a bigger role now that Jordan Jenkins and Leonard Floyd have moved on.

ATHENS — For the past couple years, the very talented men who occupied Georgia’s outside linebackers room referred to themselves as The Wolfpack. It was coined by Lorenzo Carter, who was up late at night watching a nature documentary, and noticed the parallel between a wolf pack hunting its prey and outside linebackers hunting the ball-carrier.

Well, it’s time for the Wolfpack’s young pups to be … you know where I’m going, and I apologize in advance … the lead dogs.

Jordan Jenkins and Leonard Floyd may not have quite been the spectacular difference-makers that some predicted they would be, but the pair did combine for 36 sacks, 68.5 tackles-for-loss, 11 forced fumbles and 74 starts over the past four years. Floyd and Jenkins also played through some injuries, and when they were on the field required enough blockers that they often helped their teammates make plays.

That’s a lot to replace. Luckily for Georgia, there’s plenty of talent still left in the wolf pack. The trick is whether Carter, a former five-star recruit, and the rest of the room can be good enough to prevent a big drop-off.

There’s also a returning coach: Kevin Sherrer, who coached the outside linebackers the past two years, is one of just two holdovers from Mark Richt’s old staff. That should help the returning players.

Note: We’ll refer to the two outside linebacker spots as the Sam (strongside) and Jack (weakside) because that’s the verbiage Alabama used when Smart was there, along with former defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt the past two years at Georgia.

SAM LINEBACKER

  • Returning starter: None. (Although Davin Bellamy did start two games last year.)
  • Others returning: Davin Bellamy, Jr.; Lorenzo Carter, Jr.; Chuks Amaechi, Sr.; D’Andre Walker, Soph.; Shaun McGee, Jr.; Johnny O’Neal, Sr.; Tommy Long, Sr. (walk-on).
  • Early enrollees: None.
  • On the way: Chauncey Manac, Fr; David Marshall, Fr.
  • Analysis: There’s a lot of upside here, especially with Carter. There have been moments of inconsistency, enough so that Bellamy supplanted him as the top reserve last year. But Carter’s blend of strength and athleticism still makes him a special talent. Bellamy had three sacks last year in his limited playing time, putting himself in prime position for a starting spot in 2016. Amaechi also showed some flashes in brief playing time last year, as well as raves during some scrimmages and practices. Then there’s Walker, whose build and athleticism are reminiscent of Carter. Between those four, that’s a very solid two-deep for Sherrer to start out with in the spring.
  • Bottom line: It’s hard not to see Carter and Bellamy taking the two vacated starting spots, it’s just a matter of who is where. The Sam is more of the multi-dimensional spot, while the Jack is more of a traditional pass-rushing role.

JACK LINEBACKER

  • Returning starter: None. (Carter has started seven games over the past two years because of injuries.)
  • Others returning: Davin Bellamy, Jr.; Lorenzo Carter, Jr.; Chuks Amaechi, Sr.; D’Andre Walker, Soph.; Shaun McGee, Jr.; Johnny O’Neal, Sr.; Tommy Long, Sr. (walk-on).
  • Early enrollees: None.
  • On the way: Chauncey Manac, Fr; David Marshall, Fr.
  • Analysis: While Manac and Marshall were originally listed as defensive lineman, if you look at the pure numbers – Georgia has a lot of returning defensive lineman – then it’s no surprise they were both officially listed as OLBs. (Marshall was also listed as a defensive end.) The Jack (weakside) linebacker usually plays a bit more on the line than the Sam, making Marshall (listed at 270 pounds) very likely to be at the Jack when he’s not a defensive lineman. The same could go for Manac, listed at 255 pounds.
  • Bottom line: Amaechi and Walker may be too good not to play, and each could push for a starting spot if Bellamy and Carter are injured or not producing. As for McGee and O’Neal, the spring may be their last chance to show Sherrer – who has had them for two years already – that they’re capable of more than just being depth.

Next: Inside linebackers.

PRE-SPRING ANALYSES

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