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In The Trenches With Chris Ward, Georgia State Football Defensive Line Coach

We caught up with Georgia State defensive line coach Chris Ward to talk about his group, which now includes UConn transfer A.J. Portee.

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Georgia State football opens its second stanza with some questions along the defensive line, as many Panthers fans were not thrilled after losing a verbal commit on signing day. Especially when that verbal commit is 6-foot-2, 320-pound nose guard Jakarie Kinnie, who signed with the Panthers' Week 3 opponent, Jacksonville State.

SB Nation Atlanta had a chance to catch up with the man in charge of corralling these big-bodied Panthers: defensive line coach Chris Ward. Ward is a local product from SW Dekalb High School who went on to Kentucky to play four years under coach Bill Curry, earning 2nd team All-SEC honors his senior season. He discussed his recruiting philosophy along the defensive line, what UConn transfer DE A.J. Portee brings to the defense and what moving weakside DE Kalan Jenkins inside to nose allows his talented ends to do.

SB Nation Atlanta: What kind of impact will A.J. Portee bring to this team?

Chris Ward: A.J. comes from a FBS program, has played in a BCS bowl and is comfortable in big game situations. He has a quickness that gives our defensive line another dimension.

SB Nation Atlanta: With Kalan Jenkins moving to nose, how does that help guys like DE Christo Bilukidi and Portee?

Chris Ward: It opens them up. We have an attack-react defense. Jenkins came here as a tight end, then moved to [weakside defensive] end. He has done really and is really our unsung hero. He'll do a good job at nose. He's so unselfish. He's smart too. People think the guys on the D-line are dumb. I was a D-lineman. We're not all dumb.

SB Nation Atlanta: With so many defenses, especially in the state of Georgia, moving to 3-4, do you want a huge, 320-pound, 330-pound nose guard?

Chris Ward: We really want a guy that can move. A guy that can change directions. At any given moment, we want to be able to move him around. We don't want to have to have a guy who is in for one or two downs then I have to sub out.

Special thanks to Georgia State defensive line coach Chris Ward!

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.