The Georgia defensive line's first year in Todd Grantham's 3-4 alignment was the dictionary definition of "feast or famine." Against teams with poor rushing attacks, they locked down hard, but found themselves shredded by Florida's spread, Georgia Tech's triple-option and, of course, one-man wrecking crews such as Marcus Lattimore and Cam Newton. Last year, of course, Grantham didn't have quite the personnel mix he needed to make it all come together like clockwork; Dawg fans will be watching closely this spring to see if that's changed.
PROJECTED DEPTH CHART
1. Johnathon Jenkins (6'4", 340), Jr.
2. Kwame Geathers (6'6", 325), RSoph.
3. Justin Anderson (6'5", 326), Sr.
Who's coming back. DeAngelo Tyson is probably the most experienced returning player on the entire line, but he'll be making a blessed return to defensive end after a sophomore season spent trying to provide a warm (and large) body at nose tackle. His understudies at nose, Kwame Geathers and Justin Anderson, will remain at that position; his counterpart at the opposite end, Abry Jones, is also a returning starter. Behind them, Derrick Lott, Garrison Smith and Jeremy Longo all saw very limited action in 2010.
Who's new. You know that mountain-sized nose tackle that Grantham's defensive system so desperately needed? Well, it looks like they've found him in Johnathon Jenkins, a Connecticut native who arrives at Georgia by way of Mississippi Gulf Coast Junior College. By virtue of his size and agility, Jenkins probably had the starting nose tackle position locked up the minute he declared for the Dawgs. Georgia only signed two other linemen in the 2011 recruiting class, but one of them, four-star prospect Sterling Bailey, has the speed and athleticism to work his way onto the depth chart as a true freshman. The other, tackle Chris Mayes, has the size to eventually work his way into the rotation but looks to be a bit of a longer-term project.
Outlook. There doesn't figure to be a lot of drama on the defensive line depth chart this season, which surely comes as a huge relief to Grantham and Mark Richt. Not only do they have a returning starter to lock down either end of the line, they finally have the gigantic, run-stuffing presence in the center who can attract double-teams and free the linebacking corps to run wild.
Where things get a little shaky is the depth situation. The understudies at each position -- Lott, Geathers and Smith -- were all highly sought-after recruits, but were only used sparingly last season and notched 17 total tackles between them. If they don't rise to the occasion, that could open up opportunities for Sterling Bailey, but beyond him the roster is basically walk-ons. Overall, this year's crop of D-linemen presents Todd Grantham with a skill set more suited to the 3-4 than last year's did, but let's all cross our fingers and hope that Joe Tereshinski's more stringent strength and conditioning program makes them less vulnerable to injuries as well.