Herrera ready to take over new role on reshaped defense

When Georgia’s defense takes the field for practice next spring, it isn’t likely to look very much like the current group.

But one familiar face will be inside linebacker Amarlo Herrera.

“It’s kind of weird, but it’s also been kind of an honor to play with so many NFL-caliber players,” Herrera said. “That has helped me with my game going forward and pick up on what they do good and learn from the things that they’re not so good at.”

Georgia’s defense will probably have a heavy representation in the upcoming NFL draft. So contributing on a team with deep reserves of high-end talent helped Herrera develop.

“It’s kind of bittersweet,” Herrera said. “Playing with guys like that helped me a lot. I’m going to be able to help lead the team next year just off of what they showed me. It’s kind of daunting. Sometimes its kind of weird that it came so quick. But I’ve got to pick my game up to help all these young guys. I know these young guys look up to me and have seen what I can do, so it won’t be that hard.”

Georgia will lose seven seniors off of its defensive two-deep, including inside linebackers Michael Gilliard and Christian Robinson. Many are speculating that junior linebackers Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree will also depart for the NFL, which could leave the Bulldogs woefully thin on experience next year.

“I’ve heard that, but I don’t pay attention to that,” Herrera said. “They say that about every team, but you always have players who step up when their time comes.”

Herrera, a sophomore inside linebacker from College Park, will likely be the leading returning tackler next season. He has started eight of Georgia’s 13 games and made 67 total tackles which is tied for fourth on the team behind junior eligible Ogletree (98), senior Shawn Williams (87) and junior eligible Jones (77). Bacarri Rambo, a senior, is tied with Herrera at No. 4 at 67 tackles.

“Amarlo is a guy filled with a lot of energy and passion,” Jordan Jenkins said. “… He can be a guy you want on your team because you know he has your back. You know he’s going to make big plays. He’s a guy who doesn’t like losing and he’s going to do whatever it takes to win.”

Herrera will likely be the only returning inside linebacker with significant experience and should be the defense’s loudest voice both on the field and in the locker room.

“He’s just a really passionate guy,” Jenkins said. “But he’s a really cool guy. I think he’s the right fit to fill in for Alec and Christian and all them. He has that same type of passion for it. He’s going to be one guy that’s going to be making a lot of plays and getting the defense hyped and getting everybody ready because he’s not afraid to voice his opinion and he’ll get everybody in the right spot. He’ll cuss you out, just like Jarvis and all them do now. He’ll be a good fit in that spot.”

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