Continuing our look at the Georgia football position battles, we look at the interior defensive tackles:
‘Big John’ as he is affectionately known in the Georgia football team, was a big presence for the team in 2016. He started 9 of the last 10 games and played in all 13 contests in the year. He did not register any sacks, but Atkins’ main job has always been to stuff the run. A big 6-4, 315lbs man, he does this job admirably and will be the favourite to win the the Nose Tackle job in 2017.
Another bigger Nose Tackle, Hawkins-Muckle had several big games this past year. He was credited with 5 tackles against Nicolls State and 6 against Florida, before an injury against the Gators ruled him out for the rest of the season. A redshirted Junior, his 6-4 320 lbs frame makes another great option at the nose and gives UGA the option to rotate tackles there.
The #1 overall recruit in the nation in 2015, Thompson has shown flashes of dominance the past 2 seasons. He has however lacked consistency and he lost his starting to spot to Julian Rochester for pasts of last year. A recent medical issue has meant that he has left the team for this semester and there is no indication when he will return.
An early enrollee in 2016, Rochester had a very solid freshman year. Despite going up against highly regarded player in Thompson, Rochester ended up winning the starting job for part of the season and impressed throughout. Despite coming in at 6-5 and 315lbs, he has impressive burst and athleticism that makes him much more than just a run-stuffer. If he improves his pass rush, 2017 could be a huge year for him.
Despite not being a particularly highly ranked recruit, Clark played well in 2016. He ended up with 21 total tackles and played in parts of every game. While he is a little lighter than the other’s on this list, he showed last year that he can stuff the run and perhaps play some nose. One to watch out for this spring, a good practice could see him jump up the depth chart.
The smallest man of the group, if a 6-3 300lb 18 year old can be called small. Wyatt has impressive athleticism and reportedly ran a 4.6 in the 40 yard dash according to a Dawgnation profile. Wyatt was relatively lowly rated because of where he played his high school football but he offers real potential. He’d joining a strong position group, but expect him to push for time and have an impact up the middle when he gets on the field.