At the outset of the season, there was hope for the Georgia Tech pass rush for the first time since the departure of Jeremiah Attaochu at the end of the 2013 season. Fans once again were excited to see opposing QBs harried and hit, with the promise of improved defensive performance in Ted Roof's 3rd year at the helm. The pass rush never materialized, and while the defense improved as a whole, it was unable to prevent the ineptitude of the offense from sinking the entire season. Georgia Tech's pass rushers are still young, however, and there is hope that they can develop in the future. This article will focus on the youngest pass rusher from the 2015 season, Anree Saint-Amour.
As a Recruit
Saint-Amour's recruitment was a bit interesting. Early, he was the top DE on Tech's board, but it eventually became apparent that he was infatuated with Stanford, and would likely end up there. Soon after, Tech moved on. The coaching staff found and offered a new DE prospect named Dylan Jackson. Jackson quickly became the top target at DE, and Saint-Amour faded into the background. Then Jackson committed to Stanford, setting the Tech fanbase into a frenzy. Constant, pointless, off-topic debates surrounding the question "why does Stanford recruit better than us?" raged for days. However, it came to light soon after that Saint-Amour had not been accepted to Stanford, and Ted Roof pounced at the opportunity. He immediately scheduled an in-home visit with Saint-Amour's family, and committed on the spot. Saint-Amour instantly became the top recruit in Georgia Tech's 2015 class, which will likely shape the future of the program.
While Saint-Amour did play this year, he only got significant playing time in a limited number of games. In 7 games as a reserve, he amassed the following statistics:
Not bad for such limited playing time. Saint-Amour also had more playing time and accumulated more stats towards the end of the season. The coaches began to look for young players to step up at the DE position towards the end of the year, and Saint-Amour answered the call. He had his biggest game against Virginia Tech, in which he amassed 2 TFL, got his only Sack of the season, and showcased a skill set that projects well for the future.
In my post game analysis of the Virginia Tech game, I stated that I felt Saint-Amour's ceiling was the highest among the many young DEs on the team. I still hold that assertion. Saint-Amour's ceiling is even higher than that of KeShun Freeman, and if you asked Freeman himself, he'd likely agree. Freeman raved about Saint-Amour when I talked to him before the season, praising the relentless motor of the young DE whom he had taken under his wing.
While it's clear that Saint-Amour is still developing physically and adjusting to the college game, there are a few traits that project favorably for future development. At 6'3 240, Saint-Amour looks to have a bit bigger frame than KeShun Freeman or Antonio Simmons. If he can add good weight to his frame, he could end up playing in the 250-260 lb range later in his career. For a Georgia Tech defensive front that has lacked size for some time, a player of those proportions could be a welcome addition.
When Saint-Amour steps on the field, he is always one of the quickest and fastest defensive linemen there. He moves naturally in space, and has an extra gear in pursuit that will allow him to easily chase down pocket passing QBs who try to escape. His raw athleticism won't likely suffer as he adds muscle mass, allowing him to execute a wider variety of pass rushing moves.
Look for Saint-Amour to improve upon his strength and technique this spring, as these were the areas where he needed the most improvement in 2015. He was never able to generate much of a bull rush against opposing OL, but that is something that DE's tend to do better with age. It's always difficult for 18/19 year-olds to have the physical maturity to battle in the trenches, and even the most talented players will get beaten by seniors.
Pass rushing technique needs to improve as well. He needs to develop a "go-to" move with which he can get consistent pressure(Attaochu's dip move was deadly). Saint-Amour also lets blockers get their hands on him a bit too much, and struggles to disengage. Again, that's something that will improve with physical maturity.
Anree Saint-Amour is one of several members of the 2015 recruiting class that will figure heavily into the direction of Tech's program in the coming years. As the Jackets have struggled to establish a pass rush, the task of elevating the defense to the next level may lie squarely on the shoulders of this Gwinnett County native.