Athens - Georgia’s Kevin Sherrer had some pretty good outside linebackers when he was defensive coordinator at South Alabama last year. He even had some that were pretty big and fast.
But he didn’t have any like Lorenzo Carter. And he certainly didn’t have three like he does in Carter, Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins.
“Makes you look like a good coach,” quipped Sherrer, who coaches Georgia’s “Sam” linebackers and nickelbacks.
Carter, the Bulldogs’ most ballyhooed recruit of the 2014 class, showed up at 6-feet-6 inches tall. After one short summer of training table and strength and conditioning, he already weighs 240 pounds. Not coincidentally, Carter shows up on the Bulldogs’ two-deep for Saturday’s opener against Clemson and they plan on putting him to good use.
“With the tools he has, he’s just going to get better,” Sherrer said. “As he understands our scheme and how we expect him to play and the things he does, he’s just going to get better and better. But having a those physical tools, that just doesn’t come around very often. We’re fortunate to right now have two guys like that in him and Leonard. So that’s a plus for us.”
Carter is a 5-star prospect from Norcross High School who chose Georgia over a who’s who of storied college football prospect. He’d be a shoo-in starter for most any team with which he happened to land. It just so happens that the Bulldogs want him to play Sam, or strong-side outside linebacker. That puts him at the same spot as Floyd.
In the estimation of first-year defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, the 6-4, 230-pound Floyd was the most under-utilized talent on Georgia’s defense last season. Even so, the sophomore from Eastman managed to start eight games and collect 55 tackles and 6.5 sacks. Pruitt wants more out of Floyd.
Carter, as it turns out, may allow the Bulldogs to do just that. Carter’s incredible physical prowess and 4.6 speed has allowed Georgia to put him into situations in which they’d normally be counting on Floyd. That, in turn, allows the Bulldogs to move Floyd around and play a game of “Find 84” with opposing offensive lines.
That’s not to mention Jenkins, who at 6-3, 252 has lost 20 pounds since the end of last season and is moving around better than ever. He plays the new “Jack” defensive end position that usually lines up opposite the Sam.
“He looks like a totally different player from the spring and some of last year’s game to now,” Sherrer said. “He’s a lot quicker, he’s a lot more explosive, he’s made a lot more plays. He struggled to finish some before; he was right there but just couldn’t finish. Now he’s finishing some plays. He’s playing with more confidence and he’s had a sensational camp.”
So has Carter, though the grind of the preseason caught up with him toward the end.
“He hadn’t really looked like a true freshman then, all the sudden, after the accumulation of days, he looked like a true freshman,” Sherrer said. “He was struggling, he was a little bit tired, he was probably sore and different things like that. But that kind of happens when you throw them into the fire.”
But Carter seems to have caught his breath again, and Georgia’s coaches get excited thinking about his up side.
“He’s got some things, obviously, to work on,” Sherrer said. “But he’s got some growth coming, too. He’s about 240 right now, but two or three years from now he’s going to be a lot thicker and heavier and he’s got the speed to handle it, too. Before he’s done here he’s going to be a great player, one of the best ones to come through here probably.”