December 23, 2009

Jones, Tyson ready to step up

There's going to be a changing of the guard, so to speak, when defensive tackles Jeff Owens, Geno Atkins and Kade Weston play their last game for the Bulldogs next Monday in the Independence Bowl against Texas A&M.

Come spring, a page will turn.

Enter DeAngelo Tyson, Abry Jones, Kwame Geathers and Derrick Lott, four otherwise unheralded young performers, who come next fall will be counted on to continue the Bulldogs' excellent history at a position which traditionally has been one of the team's strengths.

"I like what I see from all of those guys," Atkins said. "They're all good young players; they'll get coached up and I'm sure will do a better job."

Tyson and Jones have already played integral roles.

A Statesboro native, Tyson was in the regular rotation at defensive tackle, seeing action in all 12 of Georgia's games going into Monday's Independence Bowl against Texas A&M. Jones, meanwhile, played in 11 games as true freshman, collecting eight tackles (including one sack) in limited action.

"Abry's is already a very good player," Tyson said. "He competes hard, he studies the playbook, he watches film; he does everything you need to do to become a good player."

Jones, rated the country's ninth-rated defensive tackle by Rivals.com, has been pleased with the progress he's made.

But he's not satisfied.

"I knew I was going to play a limited role, but I know next year that's going to change," Jones said. "I'll be one of the guys out there every Saturday, trying to help set the tempo."

He can't wait.

"It's something all freshmen go through. I knew I had to wait my turn, but I accepted my role, the limited snaps," Jones said. "I tried to make the most of my time, but now I see my time is really coming and I plan on being ready for it."

Redshirts Lott and Geathers also figure to be in the mix.

The freshman Lott missed the entire season after undergoing ankle surgery, while Geathers was late arriving to camp after finally getting the OK from the NCAA Clearinghouse, but has worked hard to get his way down from 349 to 310.

"We've all learned a lot from watching guys like Geno, Jeff and Kade," Jones said. "They're all big, strong, powerful guys and we've just done all we can to try and learn from them. We watch how they practice, how they carry themselves; we want to try and do the things they do."

Although he's a rising junior, Tyson won't be the oldest member of Georgia's defensive interior.

That title will go to Brandon Wood.

A senior-to-be, Wood was moved to defensive end midway through the season, but according to Richt is slated to move back inside next fall.

Verbal commitment Garrison Smith from Douglass High is also expected to fit into the mix.

"We're all going to work as hard as we can," Tyson said. "We'll see what happens, but we're going to go out and work as hard as we can."

Leadership will be important.

Although he'll just be a true sophomore, Jones believes the experience he gained this fall will enable him to adjust to that role just fine.

"I think it really helped me to go ahead and get that experience this fall," Jones said. "I think if I didn't have it, I might come in (next fall) a little bit nervous. I'm not saying I won't be a 'little nervous,' but since I did play as a freshman It's helped me be a little better prepared."

Even against the kind of players he'll be lining up against in the tough SEC.

"It's definitely different than anywhere else," Jones said. "When you against SEC guys for the first time, you see real fast what they mean about how tough the SEC is. It's tough, but I think we're we'll do fine and be ready to roll."

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