2015 Football Season Positional Preview: Defensive Tackle


As was mentioned in yesterday’s column on defensive ends, the defensive front is suddenly one of great depth and talent for Georgia Tech.

The Jackets have not had a defensive tackle make it to the NFL since 2009, when both Darryl Richards and Vance Walker, the current Bronco, were drafted late that year. The 2015 team has two seniors who could get looks from NFL scouts as we progress through the season.

Projected starters: Adam Gotsis and Jabari Hunt-Days

Gotsis changed sports and continents but since landing at Georgia Tech has been a standout tackle for the white and gold. The Aussie grew up playing Australian Rules Football before transitioning to American Rules Football and many would agree that has been a good life decision.

Gotsis has started every game in the last two years, and had 74 tackles, 21 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, 3 blocked kick and a blocked PAT in that time frame. Add to that a spot on the 2014 All-ACC Second Team and here is someone who has a chance to star in his senior year along the defensive line.

He can play both 1-tech and 3-tech, forcing teams to devote two blockers at either spot to countering Adam’s brute strength. He may not put up double digit sack numbers, but his effect is felt in absorbing the considerable attention of opposing blockers, opening lanes for others to make big plays.

Hunt-Days arrived on campus a 225 lbs. outside linebacker. Fast forward a few years and in his place is a 292 lbs. nose tackle, a transformation that would make a butterfly blush. Hunt-Days, the brother of last year’s starting B-back Synjyn Days, had to sit out last year for academic reasons but all camp reports indicate he is ready to show out in his redshirt senior year, as he was named the defensive scout-team player of the year by the team.

He was last seen in 2013, recording 45 tackles, 7 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks as an OLB. Now he will line up with his hand in the dirt across from the center the majority of the time, and with Gotsis next to him, should be able to overpower his opponent in one-on-one matchups. Jabari’s athleticism will play anywhere he lines up, so there is little worry about his ability to catch on to the intricacies of a new position.

Key backups: Pat Gamble, Francis Kallon,  Kyle Cerge-Henderson, Brentavious Glanton

Pat Gamble played both the tackle and end positions for the Jackets last season and figures to do the same this year. He had 25 tackles including 1.5 for loss. From nearby Carrollton, this redshirt junior will be a big part of the line rotation yet again.

Francis Kallon was a 4-star recruit (Scout) who has all the talent in the world but has yet to put it together. At 285 lbs., he has struggled with his consistency since arriving on campus three offseasons ago, but these growing pains were to be expected as he only began playing organized football at the age of 18. Still, reports are that he has a “burning desire” to contribute to the team in a big way. Let’s hope he capitalizes on that passion on Saturdays this fall.

Glanton and Cerge-Henderson were both members of one of Paul Johnson’s best recruiting classes as coach on the Flats in 2015. Each may get an occasional chance to spell the men in front of them, and they will be in the mix for a starting spot in 2016 with the graduation of Gotsis and Hunt-Days.

Tech has a number of other young guns raring to go behind those mentioned above, including Scott Morgan who is one half of a twin freshman duo on the team. It has been a while since Tech has gone 3 or 4 units deep along the defensive tackles, so it should be a fun season in that regard.