May 7, 2009

Breakdown: Defensive ends

Kiante Tripp's switch to defense end was a move born out of necessity.

Not that he necessarily minded the change.

A plethora of injuries at the position led the Atlanta native to the conclusion that he should volunteer to move back to defensive end, his original position when he first signed with the Bulldogs three years ago.

"Monday after the first mat drills and before the second workout, I went to see Coach (Mark) Richt who walked me to the staff room," Tripp said. "They had a big board up an under the defensive end spot was Demarcus Dobbs and my name under his. It looks like they were already thinking what I was thinking."

Tripp said he currently weighs 295 pounds but says he wants to play at 285, although he added that defensive ends coach Jon Fabris believes he could play at his current weight.

As UGASports continues its post-spring position breakdown, we take a look at defensive end which without question will be one of the most-watched spots on the Bulldogs this fall.

UGASports on Justin Houston (RSo., 6-3, 264): Houston came on strong for Georgia during spring practice and was easily the most dominant of what defensive ends were healthy and actually able to play. The Statesboro native appeared to have a starting spot nailed down, and will play a huge role for the team come fall. Question is, when will he? UGASports learned that Houston is one of three Bulldogs suspended for allegedly violating team rules, and head coach Mark Richt has yet to make any discipline officially known.

UGASports on Demarcus Dobbs (Jr., 6-2, 282): The Savannah native suffered a fifth metacarpal fracture during spring practice but will be 100 percent come fall. Dobbs started four games for Georgia last year, his most memorable when he sealed the Bulldogs' win over Kentucky with an interception in the final moment. If healthy, Dobbs will certainly be in line for one of the two starting roles.

UGASports on Kiante Tripp (Jr., 6-6, 295): Big mystery here. Nobody's quite sure what to expect from Tripp, who started three games at left tackle last fall before moving to tight end and back to the offensive line again. Tripp does say he finally feels at home. He signed with Georgia as a defensive end, and had a decent spring. That said, it's still too early to predict much he'll contribute this fall although he's certain to get his opportunity.

UGASports on Rod Battle (Sr., 6-4, 265): Sat out spring practice with injury but is expected to be 100 percent shortly. When healthy, he'll certainly be in the running for a starting spot after opening in 20 games over his last two seasons but will need to show that he's healthy this fall.

UGASports on Neland Ball (RSo., 6-6, 235): Another player who battled injuries all year and still needs to prove that he can get healthy after playing in just five games last year. If he can, Ball will be in the mix for considerable playing time.

UGASports on Cornelius Washington (RFr., 6-4, 232): This is starting to sound like a broken record, but like Battle and Ball, Washington needs to get healthy if he hopes to become an every day contributor. If so, the Bulldogs can perhaps take advantage of his quickness off the ball. In high school, Washington was timed at 10.6 in the 100 meter dash and if he can gain proper knowledge of Georgia's defensive scheme, he could be a player worth watching in seasons to come.

UGASports on Jeremy Longo (RFr., 6-3, 245): Longo's shoulder was in issue last fall and knocked him out of spring practice. It's not clear when the redshirt freshman will be ready and until he is, coaches will just have to wait and see before they can predict how much playing time he will receive.

UGASports on Matthew DeGenova (RSo., 6-1, 220): DeGenova missed all of spring with injury after appearing in two games last year with a tackle versus Central Michigan. He'll be slated for backup work yet again.

UGASports on Montez Robinson (Fr., 6-5, 240): Robinson will get a chance to show what he can do, although he's still relatively raw. Widely regarded as one of the top prospects in Indiana last year, Robinson recorded 22 sacks his last two seasons in high school. Unfortunately, it normally takes freshman defensive ends a while to learn the Bulldogs' system to Fabris' satisfaction. Time will tell what kind of impact he can make as a freshman.

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