Sophomore LB DeLoach leaving a mark in spring practices

Make no mistake, James DeLoach wants to be a starter on Georgia’s defense when the Bulldogs kick off the 2013 season.

The outside linebacker has turned heads during spring practice, and he continued his impressive play during Saturday’s G-Day game.

“Overall, I did pretty good,” said DeLoach, who started for the victorious Black squad. “I accomplished some of the goals I had set for myself. I wanted to get at least one or two sacks.”

The rising sophomore accomplished just that when sacked Aaron Murray in the first quarter. DeLoach finished the game with six tackles and the sack.

Georgia coach Mark Richt has taken notice of DeLoach’s performance this spring.

“DeLoach is a big kid,” Richt said of the 6-foot-3, 270-pounder. “He’s very athletic.
We were thinking when we signed him that he might be an inside linebacker, but he’s very good out in space and in the flat.”

After Saturday’s scrimmage, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who also serves as DeLoach’s position coach, singled out the Millen native as a player to watch for in 2013.

“James DeLoach is a guy that, when you’re talking about newcomers, has done a nice job,” Grantham said.

Coaches aren’t the only ones who have been impressed by DeLoach this spring, either. Jordan Jenkins, another member of the 2012 recruiting class, said he likes what he has seen so far from his fellow outside linebacker.

“He’s coming along great,” Jenkins said. “I can tell he really wants to play. He’s making plays, learning the playbook and competing out there. For his size, a lot of people don’t think he should be playing outside linebacker, but he’s quick for his size. He’s a quick guy, and I think he’s going to make a good bit of plays this season.”

The Bulldogs have big shoes to fill with the departure of Jarvis Jones, who collected 28 sacks from the outside linebacker position in his two seasons. Together, DeLoach and Jenkins, along with Josh Dawson and T.J. Stripling, are working as a group to offset the loss of Jones.

“We feel like, as a group, we’re going to be great and continue on the legacy,” DeLoach said. “Jarvis will come up to us and check on us. We’ll ask him questions about things and stuff that used to work for him.”

The committee-like approach has been employed by Georgia’s defense this spring as it moves forward without a dozen contributors from the 2012 team.

“They say talent won’t beat hard work, so as long as we work hard, the better we’ll be as a unit,” DeLoach said. “Most have us have been a year or two, so we know how it feels to sit back and watch other players compete and work hard as a unit. We’re trying to keep up that same spirit and the same Georgia defense.”

Thus far, it appears to be working. The defense has outshined the offense in two of the three spring scrimmages, and the starting defense limited Murray and the No. 1 offense to 245 yards on G-Day Saturday.

Many of the question marks regarding Georgia’s depleted defense can be answered if players such as DeLoach continue to step up, according to coaches.

“Really, we have a lot of high hopes for (DeLoach),” Richt said Saturday.

Those expectations and the desire to start in the season opener continue to drive DeLoach during practices.

“I still have a lot of things I need to work on,” DeLoach said. “The coaches look forward to me being a great player, so I try to fulfill that role on every play. Every snap I get I push myself and give 100 percent.”

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@WilQuick5 Don’t think South Carolina week.

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