Position Previews: Defensive Tackles

We're going to miss the big guy this year. Let's hope we don't miss him too much. - Danny Karnik/Georgia Tech Athletics

Our Countdown to Kickoff rambles on today with the group of defensive tackles we'll use this fall.

Countdown to Kickoff: 23 Days...

Departed Players

T.J. Barnes (graduation/NFL Draft), Izaan Cross (graduation), Ben Keith (graduation)

Depth Chart Speculation
Position First String Second String Third String
NT Adam Gotsis (So) Jimmie Kitchen (R-So) Darius Commissiong (Fr)
DT Euclid Cummings (R-Sr) Pat Gamble (R-Fr)
Francis Kallon (R-Fr)
Justin Akins (Fr)
Outlook

One thing we know at this point is that Adam Gotsis will be starting at NT, and that barring extreme circumstances we'll probably be saying the same next year. The guy is a monster -- absurdly strong with an iron will. He weighs under 300 pounds, and can move around guys who have a 30-40 pound advantage on him. Big-time player, who should make a big-time impact in the trenches.

Behind him are Darius Commissiong, a true freshman who's made some waves in summer workouts and fall practice, and Jimmie Kitchen, a guy hampered by injuries in his first two seasons who's ripe to make an impact. That Kitchen, a very serviceable nose tackle, is currently listed behind Commissiong more speaks to Commissiong's ability than that of Kitchen. However, CPJ will be in a position this fall where he has to decide whether or not to redshirt Commissiong, and this particular writer bets he does. There's no immediate need for his services, and it would help things in the long-run to put a second year of separation between him and Gotsis. If either Gotsis or Kitchen were to get injured or start wildly underperforming, I'd be willing to bet that Commissiong's redshirt would be burned and he would be used as a reinforcement.

Right next to Gotsis and the Gang, you'll find Euclid Cummings and his band of Merry Men.
-Joey's Creativity, if you can call it that...

Right next to Gotsis and the Gang, you'll find Euclid Cummings and his band of Merry Men, consisting of Pat Gamble, Francis Kallon, and Justin Akins. This is going to be one of the hotter position battles to watch as the season nears. Cummings has the seniority on his competitors by a lot, but has only started twice in 3 seasons and seems to have made his career at Tech out of being a back up. Meanwhile, Pat Gamble will push him heavily with comparable skills, and could see significant playing time early in the season. Besides him, we know all about the athletic gifts of Francis Kallon, and the offseason has brought good news of him picking up his position a little better than before. If these two guys can do what we expect to see from them, then Cummings will continue to be pushed in practice or will end up passed by one or both of them.

In any case, I think that the defensive tackle position battles is one of the closest on the team right now, and chances are it'll be ongoing throughout the season. Question marks there breed a lack of confidence, and it may end up being the weak spot on defense, but there's a trio of capable guys there which indicates to me it won't turn into an absolute disaster. (Worth rejoicing in? Maybe.)

Overall

Adam Gotsis is the standout here, and I expect Commissiong and Akins to be redshirted. Beyond that, a variety of things could happen with the other 4 guys. Cummings played 3-4 DE last year, which is fairly similar to 4-3 DT, but we've yet to see how he'll react to the change in positioning within the trenches. We've heard good things about Gamble & Kallon, but have yet to see them in action. There's a lot of general uncertainty around this grouping, but also not a lot of good reason to be shaking in our boots at this point.

Who am I overrating? Who will be the breakout player of this group? Does Commissiong see time or keep a redshirt? What are better nicknames than "Gotsis and the Gang" and "Euclid Cummings and his Band of Merry Men"?

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