August 30, 2009

Tarrant handling two important duties

The Georgia Tech secondary figures to be one of the strongest elements of the 2009 defense, but the most of the attention goes to safeties Morgan Burnett and Cooper Taylor. A huge key to any success the Jackets have this season will be the play of the cornerbacks. Sophomore Jerrard Tarrant is currently one of the two starting cornerbacks after clawing his way to the top of the depth chart with day after day of impressive performances in fall camp.

Tarrant has taken over as the starting corner over taking Rashaad Reid who started eight games last season for the Jackets.

"I am running with the ones," Tarrant said. "It feels great and I just need to keep working hard. I can't get lazy or comfortable."

Talent has never been a concern for the Georgia Tech coaching staff with Tarrant. Tarrant has everything they look for in a corner, but he struggled in the past with understanding how to play within the framework of the defense.

"Jerrard is a guy that has a lot of ability and a lot of instinct," Cornerbacks coach Charles Kelly said. "He plays the ball well, but he still has to get a better grasp of what we are doing defensively especially in certain situations. That is something that comes with time."

Tarrant's approach after missing all of the 2008 season was to work his way back into the rotation through vigilance and pushing himself beyond the point of exhaustion at every practice.

"I really did not expect to start. I just came in after talking to coach Kelly with the understanding that I needed to work hard and that the cream would rise to the top," he said. "I am continuing to work harder each day in practice to secure my spot."

Another huge plus Tarrant offers is that he is a tremendous punt returner. He feels like it comes naturally to him. The Jackets' punt returners from last year's team, Tyler Melton (MCL sprain) and Roddy Jones (wrist) are both injured and unable to compete with Tarrant.

"I feel really good and it is great to be back on the field doing what I love," Tarrant said. "I love doing punt returns and I feel really comfortable with it."

Tarrant hopes to help the team improve their punt return average of 6.7 yards per return last season, which was ninth overall in the ACC.

"I want to take on the challenge of picking that up," Tarrant said of the less than impressive stats last season. "I feel like I give the team that home run threat. I also have great blocker out there that can set up the blocks so I can find my seams and do what I need to do."

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