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Blog: Grantham on growing scholarship numbers on defense, nose guard and Tray talk

Taking a step off the recruiting trail during the spring evaluation period, Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham offered up his evaluation on an assortment of topics Wednesday night at the UGA Day stop in Atlanta’s Buckhead.

Grantham talked again about how the Bulldogs will be deeper, especially up front.

“Last year we had 28 guys on scholarship on defense, which when you start breaking the numbers down, you should be around the 41 number,” he said. “Thinking that if you have 85 guys on scholarship, three specialty, divide that in half, you get 41. We were at 28 last year on defense, which is a low number. Once we get into August, we’re going to be into the 37 to 38 range, which means we’re closer. What that does is it tells you, you’ve got more guys on special teams because you’ve got depth. You’ve got more guys that can play in rotation, which can keep guys fresh. I think that’s a big thing, particularly in the front seven.”

There are plenty of candidates to play nose guard.

Mike Thornton is holding down the starting spot, ahead of junior college transfer Chris Mayes.

“There’s nothing that says that Jonathan Taylor cannot play there, John Atkins,” Grantham said. “We have numerous guys that we can play in that position. We’ve probably got 11 guys up front that we feel can play with their hand in the dirt and we’ll mix and match those guys throughout August and September and see what gives us the best chance to be successful.”

Toby Johnson from Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College is projected to play defensive end. He’s coming off ACL and MCL surgery on Nov. 28.

“He was here for the spring game; we were able to look at his knee,” Grantham said. “Ron Courson, our trainer, was ecstatic about his progress and where he was. He’s done great on his grades. He’s going to be here June 3 for first semester, which allows us to work with him in the rehab department to get him in the strength and conditioning room. We’re going to see how it goes with him, but everything is very encouraging now. He’s definitely a talented guy. We’ve always felt that we needed a guy like that with his initial quickness and acceleration. We’re certainly going to give him an opportunity to compete for playing time when he gets here.”

One more thing.

Could Grantham actually get away without dropping some Tray Matthews talk to get fans excited?

“He actually knocked two guys out in three scrimmages,” Grantham said. “The only problem is one of them was a defensive guy. …We’ll work on that with him.”

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