UGA defensive line commitment Julian Rochester suffered a spring injury that didn’t allow him to train often enough to maintain his weight over the summer. He didn’t fare well at all-star events and it led to analysts dropping him in their ratings.
Rochester wasn’t too happy with his critics. He told DawgNation.com their words inspired him to set lofty goals of leading his team to a state title and producing 25 sacks. He wanted “legendary status” after a historic season.
According to his coach, the 6-foot-5 senior is now down to about 312 pounds. He’s lost at least 18-25 pounds and is on his way to backing up those words.
“He’s really starting to come into his own,” McEachern coach Kyle Hockman said. “We look at dominating plays with a big person like him. How many dominating plays are you able to make? He’s getting up there to completely dominating the play almost a third of the time.”
What does McEachern define as dominating? That might apply to a play when an offense abandons the design of a run call that was initially schemed to go to Rochester’s side. It could be a rep when he ties up three blockers and allows his linebackers to fly unimpeded downhill for a no-gain tackle. It could be flushing the quarterback out of the pocket before he can get through his progressions.
“To have that happen almost a third of his snaps is pretty special,” Hockman said.
The “Rochester Ratio” would be a good name for it. Hockman said the Lovejoy game on Sept. 18 was the first Rochester’s rate of producing those dominating plays reached 33 percent of his reps.
“He’s pushing himself harder and harder and fighting through things while he’s been getting into shape,” Hockman said. “We’re not giving him nearly as many blows (to rest) as he got last year and trying to get him to play at that dominating level longer and longer.”
The team started off giving him six snaps before subbing in a fresh reserve, but that time period has now been stretched up to 10 plays at a time. Hockman said there might only be one of those 10 plays where Rochester isn’t giving good effort at every opportunity.
Jeff Sentell covers UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges.