Building out the defensive line was a point of emphasis for the incoming 2021 class. As we looked back at last year’s defense, we identified significant weaknesses in havoc rate, pressure rate, and run stuff rate, and all of those weaknesses are connected to the need for defensive line improvement. Ben covered guys expected to play on the edge earlier this week, and today we’ll take a look at three newcomers who will man the interior of the defensive line.
Recruited as a strong side defensive end, Grey Carroll is widely expected to move inside for the Georgia Tech defense; he finished high school at 6-3, 260 pounds, and he has already enrolled this spring to get a head start on development work. He committed to the Yellow Jackets during the spring wave of commitments on May 27:
His commitment to Tech came over P5 offers from schools like BC, Louisville, and Wake Forest; he also had offers from elite academic schools, as well as from the top of the G5, such as Cincinnati, Memphis, and Appalachian State. He was a consensus 3 star prospect, checking in as a 5.6 on Rivals, an 85 on 247, and an 86.01 in the 247 Composite.
He had a remarkable ending to his high school career, capping things off by helping to lead Alcoa High School to its 6th straight state tile and being named the 3A Mr. Football in the state of Tennessee. During his senior season, he racked up 67 tackles, 23.5 of which were for a loss, and 8 sacks. Maxpreps named him a small school, 1st Team All American.
Carroll doesn’t have a full season highlight package, but some of the individual game film is quite impressive:
In this single game of film, we see Carroll putting up multiple sacks, generating pressure repeatedly, and accumulating TFLs in the run game. His strength stands out as he easily overpowers would-be blockers, and he shows great awareness in the angles he takes to the quarterback and other ball carriers. He may not immediately be ready to take on ACC caliber interior offensive linemen, but his physicality and understanding of the game should make him a steady long-term contributor on the GT defensive line.
Zeek Biggers and his all too perfect name kicked off the additions to GT’s defensive tackle room when he committed on Mother’s Day, May 10th:
At the time, his other P5 offer was from NC State, but he was a player the GT coaches clearly targeted after missing on a few early prospects. His evaluations are hard to gauge, as his senior season was delayed until the spring and began just two Fridays ago. Standing at 6-6, 325 pounds, he anchors the middle of the defense for his West Rowan team while also playing offensive tackle. From the little bit of evaluation period they had, 247 had him as a 3 star with an 80 rating, Rivals had him as a 2 star with a 5.2 rating, and his composite came in as an 80.74 three star.
Like Carroll, he didn’t have full-season highlight tapes, but we can take a look at highlights from a few individual games from his junior season.
From the tape, he appears to have a very good motor for a guy his size. Several times, he makes tackles several seconds into plays that most defensive tackles would have given up on. The hope for the GT coaching staff will be that Bigger develops his strength so that he can command double teams in run defense and develop his athleticism to push the pocket backwards on passing plays. With the returning experience at defensive tackle, Biggers seems likely to redshirt and really compete for snaps in 2022.
Georgia Tech finished out its additions to the interior defensive line when Makius Scott announced his decision to transfer from South Carolina to GT on December 7th:
Standing at 6-4, 300 pounds, he will immediately be one of the biggest guys in the defensive line room. Scott didn’t make an appearance in a game last year at South Carolina; he was rated as an 86.39 three star in the 247 composite as part of the 2020 class out of Gainesville, GA. He’ll have four full years of eligibility at GT to make his mark.
Without any game appearances in 2020, we have to look back at his high school film from 2019 to get an idea of what GT is getting.
In a short yardage situation around the 0:34 mark, Scott explodes into the backfield and shows promise as a disruptor. He does appear to struggle with his pad level being too high, and he doesn’t jump off the screen athletically, but he’s a worthwhile addition as a guy who has years left to learn and develop.
After not adding anyone to his room in the 2020 class, Larry Knight must be excited to bring in three guys he can help mold into impactful, long-term contributors. This group likely won’t make the same day 1 impact that we expect to see at the Edge position, but GT is bringing in three guys with diverse skill sets who all show the potential to help tick up the havoc rate, pressure rate, and run stuff rate that we have talked so much about.