The departure of John Atkins and Trenton Thompson to the NFL has created an opportunity for one Bulldog in the interior of the defensive line.
Georgia defensive lineman Julian Rochester who is now down to a leaner 301 pounds is feeling good and determined to take the next step in the trenches as not only a nose guard but a complete defensive lineman.
Cutting some of the bad weight has gotten him into the best shape of his football career and confident heading into spring practice. While Rochester played significant snaps last season his role will only increase as he will be the go-to guy in replacing Atkins at the nose guard position.
Learning and playing alongside Atkins has given him the tools to take his game to the next level.
“Hand placement, composure, toughness and the hard way,” Rochester said. “He taught me how to go the hard way. We’re big bodies, when we get mad and get angry, learn how to play like that every play, it will go a long way for us.”
Rochester is now prepared to showcase his abilities as an all-around defensive lineman.
“Coach Kirby Smart has done a good job teaching them all. I can go out and play the heavy-five, come in and play the three, the four; I can go out and play the nose. I can do all of them for the most part.”
While last season was a huge success and has created high expectations at Georgia, the challenge to improve as a group collectively is all the motivation they need.
“The standard was set by John-John and them from the legacy they left from this past defense,” Rochester said. “If we don’t match that standard then we don’t feel like we accomplished anything. If we go with the mindset of beating everything they did last year, the sky is the limit for us.”