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Why linebacker Bruce Jordan-Swilling is an impact player for 2018

This sophomore linebacker should be a key piece on an inexperienced defense

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Our 100 Days to Kickoff Series continues with a look at five impact players for the 2018 season. Next up is inside linebacker Bruce Jordan-Swilling who is looking to benefit from Nate Woody’s new 3-4 defense.

This year’s defense should look a whole lot different. I’m not just talking about Nate Woody’s new aggressive 3-4 defense. I’m also talking about the players taking the field next year. Tech is missing their starting defensive ends and their entire 5-man secondary from last year. That’s a whole lot of experience that’s gone. Pretty much the one place that looks fine is linebacker. Despite moving from 2 starting linebackers to 4, this team looks like it should be strongest in the middle of the field. They bring back experience and talent in senior Brant Mitchell and junior Victor Alexander. The most exciting returner at linebacker, though, is sophomore Bruce Jordan-Swilling.

Jordan-Swilling came in with high expectations. He was one of the highest rated recruits Tech has gotten since Calvin Johnson. His father, Pat Swilling, was a legendary Tech linebacker who is in the College Football Hall of Fame. He got plenty of playtime as a true freshman despite the 2 linebacker scheme that GT spent a lot of time in. He wound up with 34 tackles, an interception, and a forced fumble. He still made plenty of freshman mistakes, but with another year under his belt he should be better disciplined.

The switch to the 3-4 should work out just fine for Bruce. He most likely will start at inside linebacker this year next to Brant Mitchell. Generally in a 3-4 defense one ILB is pushes up into the line and gets caught up in the muck in the middle. The other is freer to roam and make plays. This second role suits Bruce very well. He may lack some experience, but he has solid instincts and the skill and athleticism to go make a play when he wants to.

Under Ted Roof’s system, playmaking was not a priority. Tech was routinely near the bottom in “Chaos Rate” (a measure of negative plays a defense forces) under Roof. New defenseive coordinator Nate Woody, however, had his defenses near the top of the charts in aggressiveness. Given that, Woody is going to need somebody to go and make those plays particularly tackles for losses, sacks, and forced fumbles. Bruce Jordan-Swilling can be that guy. If he progresses and becomes a player that terrorizes opponents’ offenses, BJS can fast track this defensive transition. If he is unable to be that playmaker, either due to lack of progression, injury, or defenses are able to key onto him, then this defense could be in some trouble this year. A more aggressive defense without the experience to avoid breakdowns could lead to disaster defensively. A linebacker making plays all over the field would give this young defense some of the help it needs. Bruce Jordan-Swilling could be that player.

Days to Kickoff: 88