Georgia Tech’s defense in 2017 was, to put it nicely, not good. The unit ranked disappointingly low in sacks (108th), tackles for loss per game (118th) and turnovers forced (124th). With more than half of last year’s defensive starters graduating, the Jackets are searching for new playmakers to step up. Incoming freshman T.K. Chimedza may be up for the task.
Hailing from the prestigious IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, Chimedza comes in as one of the most college-ready defensive recruits that Georgia Tech has seen in the past several years. At 6-foot-3 and 300 lbs., he already possesses the size and strength of a starting defensive lineman, but what really sets him apart is his quickness and agility for a player his size.
While reviewing Chimedza’s high school game film, the first play that really stood out was this pass rush against Venice High School, last year’s Florida Class 7A State Champions. Lined up at defensive tackle, Chimedza gets a 1-on-1 matchup against the right guard. He uses a perfectly-timed spin move to make the blocker miss and then shows incredible burst in closing in on the quarterback to force an errant throw.
While Chimedza will certainly face higher quality blocking at the D-1 level, this spin move demonstrates his elite agility for a player his size and shows he is already proficient in his pass rushing technique. Many defensive linemen recruits succeed in high school on brute strength alone and then struggle at the next level, but with Chimedza that will not be the case.
Another play highlighting Chimedza’s diverse skill set is his run defense on this play against East High School, last year’s Utah Class 6A State Runner-up. The offense attempted to double team Chimedza, with the center cutting him low and the right guard blocking him high. He keeps his balance through the low hit and uses his strength to shed the high block, all while keeping his eyes in the backfield to locate the ball carrier. He then shows off impressive lateral quickness to meet the ball carrier at the line of scrimmage and bring him down for almost no gain.
While it seems certain that Chimedza will be a future impact player for Georgia Tech, it’s currently unclear what position on the defensive line he’ll play. He was originally recruited as a defensive tackle for Ted Roof’s 4-3 system, but Tech’s recent switch to a 3-4 scheme under new defensive coordinator Nate Woody means he and the coaching staff will have to decide whether Chimedza will play nose tackle or defensive end.
The primary goal of the three defensive linemen in a 3-4 scheme is to engage multiple offensive linemen and occupy run gaps in order to keep the linebackers free to pursue the ball carrier. The nose tackle is typically the largest player on the defense and controls the A-gaps between the center and guards. The defensive ends are responsible for the B-gaps between the guards and tackles while also needing to be quick enough to pursue ball carriers to the outside. Nose tackles in a 3-4 system typically weigh around 330 lbs, while defensive ends in the 3-4 are usually 280 lbs to 300 lbs.
While Chimedza is currently the perfect size for a 3-4 defensive end, he is already the second largest defensive lineman on the roster. This means that while Chimedza could be a dominant force at defensive end, it’s highly likely that the coaching staff will have him bulk up a bit more so he can play nose tackle. His defensive position will remain a mystery until Week 1, but one thing we know for certain is that T.K. Chimedza is an immediate impact player who will be exciting to watch on The Flats for the next several years.