The 2017 Yellow Jackets are losing two starters at linebacker, PJ Davis and Chase Alford, but still look in pretty good shape at the position. They have plenty of returning experience with Brant Mitchell, Terrell Lewis, and Victor Alexander. Beyond that, they have a good bit of depth with guys like David Curry and Tyler Cooksey backing them up. They also have a wild card in true freshman Bruce Jordan-Swilling who comes in as one of Tech’s most highly touted recruits ever.
Brant Mitchell is the most experienced of the returning linebackers after starting all 13 games last season. He recorded 71 tackles and three takeaways, but it would have been nice to see him making more aggressive plays as he only had three TFL. Joining him will likely be senior Terrell Lewis. Lewis started three games last season, but has mostly been notable for his special teams contribution. This year, he should get the chance to show what he’s made of at linebacker. He did record 3.5 TFL on only 21 tackles last season, so with more playing time he could bring some much needed playmaking to this defense. Junior Victor Alexander is in much the same boat as Lewis. He showed great promise as an aggressive linebacker in his high school film and I’d love to see him show that same attitude on the field this season. This crew should be solid and it has quite a bit of potential as well.
Bruce Jordan-Swilling is only a freshman, but he is one of the most athletic players on this team and showed good instincts from the defensive side of the ball. He absolutely could make a difference this season for Georgia Tech, although I would not anticipate him starting right away, he should see playtime even early in the year. The trouble with freshmen is usually that they aren’t mentally prepared to play at the college level, but Bruce seems like he plays very smart and his athleticism is going to be tough to keep off the field.
GT runs a lot of two linebacker sets, so that leaves little play time for the backups. GT has a lot of young guys on scholarships and it’s not totally clear who is going to get the extra playtime. My best guesses are that David Curry and Tyler Cooksey will see the lion’s share of the rest of the playtime. Curry saw a small amount of playtime last season, but both of these guys should be ready to step in if necessary. I would not be surprised if somebody else stepped up though. Tre’ Jackson and Jakob Brashear both could challenge the starters this season especially if somebody is struggling. I would expect both of the other freshman, Jaquan Henderson and TD Roof, to either redshirt or play exclusively on special teams largely due to the amount of depth that this team has.
Overall, I think this is going to be a solid but unspectacular group. They have some experience and a good amount of potential to exceed expectations. In the past GT has struggled with guarding tight ends and with stopping mobile quarterbacks which are both at least partially the responsibility of the linebacking crew. I’d like to see some improvement there. I also would like to see some more aggressiveness, but that depends a lot on how well the defensive line plays in front of them.