Georgia Will Get Creative with Lorenzo Carter and Versatile Linebackers

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterApril 14, 2015

USA Today

Lorenzo Carter sat back in his folding chair in Georgia's meeting room underneath Sanford Stadium during the media session on Saturday with a glimmer in his eye.

"It's going to be crazy," he said, with a slight chuckle and a grin as wide as the room.

That grin was well-earned.

His defense had just wrapped up a scintillating spring game performance that included eight team sacks (one from Carter), 14 tackles for loss and generally set up shop in the offensive backfield all afternoon.

Georgia LB Lorenzo Carter
Georgia LB Lorenzo CarterRainier Ehrhardt/Associated Press

It was the kind of spring game performance that set the tone for the entire season.

Georgia has the best outside linebackers in the country, and there isn't really a close second. Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins are two pass-rushing monsters who passed up on the NFL to come back to Athens for another run at an SEC title.

Floyd sat out the spring game recovering from shoulder surgery that kept him out of the Belk Bowl win over Louisville. In his stead, Carter stepped in and notched eight tackles for the second straight game—setting the tone for a stellar sophomore season.

"It was a confidence booster, of course," Carter said. "To get out there and finish the season on a high note and know that there's so much more I can do...I mean, there's so much more room for me to grow as a player. Once I do that, it's crazy just imagining what I can do."

Georgia LB Lorenzo Carter
Georgia LB Lorenzo CarterJohn Bazemore/Associated Press

Carter's emergence combined with Jenkins and Floyd's decisions to return to school created the ultimate "rich man's problem" for defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.

How can he fit three outside linebackers into two spots in the lineup?

The easy answer would be to drop Jenkins—a 6'3", 252-pound senior from Hamilton, Georgia—down to defensive end in pass-rushing situations, as he did at times last season. That'd especially work well given the current landscape of Georgia's defensive line, which isn't returning a single starter from last season's squad.

That isn't the only answer, though.

Georgia LB Leonard Floyd
Georgia LB Leonard FloydDanny Johnston/Associated Press

"Floyd is learning multiple positions right now," Carter said. "We all learn multiple positions. We are just going to have to fit in wherever we are thrown. Coach is just going to throw us out there and say 'play this,' and we just have to play it."

How the rotation will specifically work, though, is still unknown.

Georgia head coach Mark Richt
Georgia head coach Mark RichtChuck Burton/Associated Press

"There's a lot of things we can do with the outside linebackers since we are such versatile players," Carter said. "We can move all over the place on the field."

Does that mean Carter could slide into one of the middle linebacker spots or Floyd could also put his hand in the dirt and play defensive end in Pruitt's 3-4 scheme?

It could, although the entire trio needs to get better as every-down linebackers if the prospect of all three playing at the same time is going to become a reality.

"They're really good at what they do in that regard," head coach Mark Richt said. "Those guys can come off the edge. They have a lot of ability. The big thing for them is how they're playing on first and second down. Those are the things we are trying to get better at with them."

Cross-training at different spots will certainly help and is an indication that Georgia's linebacking corps—which includes veteran Tim Kimbrough, outside linebacker Davin Bellamy, inside linebacker Reggie Carter, UAB transfer Jake Ganus and versatile newcomers Chuks Amaechi and Natrez Patrick—could be one of the best and deepest linebacking corps in the entire country.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com, unless otherwise noted, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports' composite rankings.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.


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