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Georgia Tech Football: Position Previews - Interior Defensive Line

Let’s talk about the big guys up front!

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 02 Pitt at Georgia Tech Photo by David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Georgia Tech’s defense actually wasn’t that bad last year, you know, all things considered. The rush defense left a little to be desired (44.7 percent success rate on running plays allowed going into the Georgia game), but with some improvement along the defensive line should help Tech be better in that regard.

Already on the Roster

Djimon Brooks

2019 Stats: 27 tackles, 2 TFL

Brooks was a pleasant surprise for Georgia Tech last season. As a walk-on, Brooks was expected to be a depth player, but ended up being pretty vital, appearing in all 12 games, starting four of them. If Tech can find the room, I would love to see Brooks be awarded a scholarship prior to the start of the season. He will be a senior this season and should see an increased role.

Antwan Owens

2019 Stats: 21 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1 sack, 1 interception

Owens played base end out of necessity last season, but Antonneous Clayton presumably filling the spot, Owens will be able to slide in and play defensive tackle. With Owens being one of Tech’s better defensive linemen, that will be an incredible boost for the defensive line as a whole.

Ja’Quon Griffin

2019 Stats: 14 tackles, 3 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 1 fumble recovery

Griffin quietly led the Yellow Jackets in sacks last season, which with just 2.5 sacks, is not great. Given that he achieved those numbers while appearing in 11 games without starting any, that does bode well for Griffin as a situational player.

T.K. Chimedza

2019 Stats: 34 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 1 fumble recovery

Chimedza has been a staff-favorite for a while. He primarily played as Tech’s nose tackle last season and was a large part of the reason that Tech’s rush defense was as good as it was. Leading all defensive linemen in tackles, Chimedza was good at helping stuff the run. Hopefully, he’ll have some more help this season.

Jahaziel Lee

2019 Stats: Played offensive line last season

Lee is an interesting one. Not only is he recovering from surgery on his broken fibula, he will also be playing a new position. After primarily being an offensive lineman, Lee will be playing his final season on the Flats at defensive tackle. I think it will be interesting to see how he does. But without having a full spring practice, it might take a little while for Lee to crack the line-up.

Chris Martin

2019 Stats: 8 tackles

Martin made six starts last season but has mostly been a solid depth player, and I expect more of the same this coming season.

Mike Lockhart

2019 Stats: 1 tackle (redshirted)

The main word associated with Mike Lockhart is potential. As a former basketball player who didn’t really start playing football until he was in high school, he blew up, getting offers from schools like Mississippi State, Nebraska and some others. Lockhart’s film does a great job of showcasing his athleticism and his nose for the ball. Given some of the seniority along the defensive line, I don’t think Lockhart will start this season, but I think we’ll see him this season.

D’Quan Douse

2019 Stats: Redshirted last season

Speaking of former basketball players, Douse is another player with some solid potential. His film is also pretty fun to watch and shows off his athleticism. I think he could also double as a base end if Tech needs him there.

New to the Team

Emmanuel Johnson

Johnson has a nice strong base, but I think he has a little ways to go before he’ll see some playing time.

Akelo Stone

Stone is technically listed as a defensive lineman, but I think he ultimately ends up at defensive tackle, mostly because Tech needs some younger depth at defensive tackle. We get a good look at Stone’s rush defense in his film and he also brings some solid athleticism.

Projected Depth

I think the interior defensive line has some really good potential this year. Having Antwan Owens slide inside is definitely a boost, and the potential of Jahaziel Lee and Mike Lockhart is very intriguing, so it should be an interesting season.

Defensive Tackle

Above the Line: Antwan Owens, Ja’Quon Griffin, Jahaziel Lee, Djimon Brooks

Nose Tackle

Above the Line: TK Chimedza, Chris Martin, Djimon Brooks

I think we’ll see a few guys play both spots, but this is how I see things shaking out, at least to begin the season. I think Owens and Chimedza will be the two primary guys with either Griffin, Lee or a base end sliding in on passing situations.

How do you see the interior defensive line shaking out?