April 5, 2010

Faloughi may finally get his chance

During an interview last week with UGASports, walk-on Reuben Faloughi admitted it's sometimes hard to stay motivated as a walk-on player, knowing that your opportunity for playing time might be a long time in coming.

That may no longer be a concern.

Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham had already penciled in Faloughi as the top backup to Cornelius Washington at Sam linebacker, but with Sunday's news that former teammate Montez Robinson has been dismissed from the team, Faloughi's chances for playing time next fall appear greater than ever.

When the Bulldogs resume spring practice Tuesday, Georgia will only have three scholarship players - Washington, Justin Houston and Chase Vasser (injured for most of the spring) currently at the position, until reinforcements arrive via the 2010 freshman class in June. Jeremy Longo is still in the picture, but the Florida native continues to be slowed by injuries.

"It's been tough, but you have to keep yourself motivated," Faloughi said last week. "There are great players here, but I think I've made great strides."

Based on Saturday's scrimmage at Sanford Stadium Faloughi appears to be doing just that.

Faloughi, who has his weight up to 235 pounds, collected three sacks on Saturday, showing that he at least has the ability to pick up the outside linebacker position in Grantham's 3-4 scheme.

"I think it fits me well. I'm used to rushing ever play, but now I've had to learn coverages, drops, things like that, but Coach Grantham is a good coach," Faloughi said. "He knows everything. He breaks everything down. Instead of telling you what to do, he shows you what you're doing, why you're doing and how you're doing it. He's definitely helped me out a lot."

But what happens now?

Even with Faloughi and Vasser, Georgia's lack of depth at outside linebacker remains a concern for Grantham, who will no doubt be taking a long look at the Bulldogs' incoming class to try and fill in the gaps that remain.

"We'll look at all of them and see where we think they'll fit in best," Grantham said.

At least Grantham appears to have to have some good choices at hand.

Although there appears to be some question whether Dalton's Jalen Fields will be able to qualify, classmates Brandon Burrows, Dexter Morant and T.J. Stripling are three players who played defensive end in high school who Grantham will no doubt evaluate to see how they translate into outside linebackers.

Alec Ogletree could also eventually garner consideration, but right now, coaches appear set on working him into the rotation at safety.

Don't rule out Grantham dipping into the relatively deep pool at inside linebacker for some help. Of that crew, Darryl Gamble and Marcus Dowtin would seem like possible candidates to move to the outside.

Although most of Georgia's incoming class has little, if any, experience with the 3-4, Faloughi says it's a scheme they will be able to learn.

"When I was in high school (at Evans) we ran a 3-5," he said. "It was similar, but this is a whole other level. But it's nothing that can't be learned."

Faloughi suggested the fact he's running No. 2 behind Washington is proof of that.

"I wouldn't say that I'm surprised, I just think it's been a learning experience," Faloughi said. "But I can't be satisfied with being No. 2."

As far as that "walk-on" stigma goes …

"I want to change the stereotype. The walk-ons, yes, we hold the dummies, you are the drill dummies. At one point, that's what I did. I held the dummies and went through all that," he said. "I was also on scout team every day, busting it. Anybody can go half-speed for scout team, but I think you have to turn it on your head every day, wake up and stay true to your goals and what you want to do."

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