Georgia Tech’s defense is in flux going into the 2014 season. Defensive Coordinator, Ted Roof, is changing his defensive alignment to a 4-2-5 in order to combat against the spread offenses that his defense will see more often than not this year. Another part of the element to the defensive change is going to be adjusting to the absence of Jabari Hunt-Days, who will not be available for the Yellow Jackets this fall. Hunt-Days was expected to be a major part of the defense this fall, but with him being ineligible, someone is going to have to step-up and take that leadership role.
The person that has to raise his game and become the leader of the defense is linebacker Quayshawn Nealy. Nealy is one of the more experienced linebackers not only on the Yellow Jackets defense, but throughout the whole ACC conference with 32 career starts under his belt. His speed is not the greatest with a 4.82 40-meters, but he has very good instincts and is a very tough linebacker at 6-feet, 232 pounds.
In 2013, Nealy collected 44 solo tackles and assisted on 22 more on the year while snatching two interceptions. Nealy’s toughness is what not only makes him a candidate to be the leader of the defense going into 2014, but also his toughness is something that can be infectious to the rest of the team.
In a cbssports.com article by Derek Stephens, Nealy was summed up fairly and accurately when Stephens wrote:
“(Nealy) Isn’t the eye-popping athlete that teams look for in the upper rounds of the draft, but could potentially be a David Hawthorne type of prospect who makes a roster on toughness, instincts and versatility.”
Nealy has the ability to drop back into coverage, stuff the run, and get after the quarterback when called upon. With Ted Roof changing the defense and the losses that the defense has taken going in this 2014 season, it is going to be interesting to see if Roof tries to either have Nealy focus on one of those attributes, or continue to bring his all-around game to the table.
Toughness, instincts and versatility can make up for the things a player may lack athletically. Quayshawn Nealy, regardless of his foot speed and size, is a football player. Football players know how to play the game, and that is all that matters when he takes the field on Saturdays. It also will be all that matters if Nealy gets the opportunity to play on Sundays in the future.
For more on all the happenings in Georgia Tech Athletics, be sure to follow YellowJackedUp on Facebook, Twitter, and use our Android/iOS app to get updates directly from Fansided. Or you can receive email updates from Yellowjackedup.com, by completing the following form here