Looking Ahead: Defensive Tackles

Mike Pettigano

The interior of a Larry Johnson coached line is typically strong. Will that change in 2013?

A way-too-early position preview series; included are scholarship and verbally committed Class of 2013 players, while run-on players have been left out of the previews.

Warm Bodies: DaQuan Jones (Sen.), Kyle Baublitz (Jun.), Derek Dowrey (RS Fresh.), Brian Gaia (RS Fresh.), Austin Johnson (RS Fresh.)

Outlook: Things have the potential to get dicey on the interior of the defensive line, with a lot of starts and quality minutes gone from the 2012 squad. Jordan Hill anchored the interior last year, and James Terry was a solid contributor, seeing action in 11 games. Their departures leave a void on the line, and there isn't much experience on the roster to fill the empty slot.

Jones is the next in line to be the Larry Johnson Defensive Tackle of the Year, and is a safe bet to be starting at one of the spots, though it remains to be seen if he'll stay at the three-tech spot, or slide over to take over the one-tech position occupied by Hill in 2012. The good news is that Jones saw time at both spots in 2012, so he shouldn't have much trouble with either assignment. Jones finished 2012 with 22 tackles, including two tackles for loss, and a half of a sack.

Baublitz is the only other tackle list above to have seen time at tackle in 2012, registering snaps in four games last year. He gets the early nod to occupy the other starting spot simply because of his time with the team and Larry Johnson's schemes and rotations. This will be one of the more interesting position battles to watch leading up to opening day.

Dowrey, Johnson, and Gaia all used their redshirts last season, spending their time learning the system and working with Craig Fitzgerald to get into proper playing shape. With only two experienced tackles ahead of them, each of these guys will likely be forced into some early action.

Projected 2013 Depth Chart:

DT DT
Jones Baublitz
Gaia Dowrey

Johnson

Names to Watch: Jones is gone after the 2013 season, so look for at least one tackle to be taken in the Class of 2014. Though, if history is any guide (see Zettel, Anthony), Larry Johnson will likely recruit to two or three open spots on the line, and fit them in as needed. Either way, these are the names projected to be DTs in the Class of 2014: Andre Brown (Oscar Smith HS (Chesapeake, VA)), Ricky Walker (Bethel HS (Hampton, VA))

QB - RB/FB - WR - TE - OL - DT - DE - LB - DB - ST


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