The defensive line for the Bulldogs is in an interesting situation.
The depth is there for the unit to succeed, but the group is facing its third position coach in as many years, and there have been a handful of players who were recruited for one position and now have to adapt to another.
One of those players is defensive end James DeLoach. After playing outside linebacker the last two seasons, DeLoach is making the move to defensive end. He has a chance to be the starter, according to Gentry Estes of 247 Sports (membership required).
However, DeLoach was one of the four players arrested, then released, on theft-by-deception charges before spring practice began. DeLoach's status when it comes to the regular season remains to be seen, but he could be suspended for a game or two, which could hurt his chances of being the starter.
So the only thing DeLoach can do is to continue to impress the coaches during offseason workouts and preseason practices. DeLoach was able to thrive in the defensive end position during spring practices because he has speed and more fluidity than he did at outside linebacker. In the spring game, DeLoach only made one tackle, but he was rotating in with John Atkins.
DeLoach spent the last two seasons at outside linebacker; despite getting praise from his coaches during each preseason, it did not translate to the regular season as he has played in only 18 games and recorded eight tackles. And of those 18 games, DeLoach he made zero starts.
When DeLoach was in high school, he played defensive end and was considered a 3-star prospect by 247 Sports. He was also considered one of the top 50 prospects in Georgia, so the Bulldogs knew he was going to be a very nice addition to the team once he arrived on campus.
The problem is that DeLoach has yet to make that impact, prompting Jeremy Pruitt to move him to defensive end. He will have to take on more offensive linemen, but per 247 Sports (membership required), Pruitt told Estes that DeLoach has a high motor and always wants to make a play.
UGA names C David Andrews spring offensive MVP and LB Ramik Wilson defensive MVP. Most improved: OG Greg Pyke and DE James DeLoach.— Marc Weiszer (@marcweiszer) April 15, 2014
Defensive line coach Tracy Rocker echoed these sentiments and said that he and Josh Dawson are two guys who stood out during the spring game.
DeLoach was named Defensive Most Improved Player at the conclusion of spring practice because of the work he put in over the course of the practice sessions. He started off slowly because he was learning the system, but once he got more reps, he started to get the hang of it.
Because the defensive line will be constantly rotating during preseason practices, there’s no telling if DeLoach will still be listed as the starter. But after two years of underachieving at linebacker, DeLoach has a chance for a new beginning and can really make an impact on defense.