ATLANTA -- Opponents might see a different Jeremiah Attaochu when they play Georgia Tech this season.
Attaochu will have a new position; he has been moved to defensive end under the new 4-3 defensive scheme. He'll also have the responsibility to get after the passer and attack the quarterback that he didn't enjoy a year ago.
"Put my hand down and get after the quarterback," Attaochu explained at the recent ACC Kickoff in Greensboro, N.C.
Attaochu (6-foot-3 and 245 pounds) has named to the preseason All-ACC team and has been included on the preseason watch list for the Nagurski, Lombardi, Butkus and Bednarik awards, one of only eight players in the nation to be included on all four lists. He's ranked as the sixth best defensive end in the nation by College Football News.
The Washington native started 13 games a year ago and was named honorable mention all-conference. He had 69 tackles and 10 sacks, which was the seventh best tally in program history. Only South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney had more sacks against ranked opponents. Attaochu enters his senior season with 19 sacks (tied for eighth on Georgia Tech's all-time list) and 27.5 tackles for loss (21st).
"I'm an attacking guy," he said. "I'm explosive. I'm fast. I like chasing things down and just being crazy out there."
That has been his approach since the ninth grade, when he began to play football. He said he starting playing because he was tired of just watching. Despite his late start, Attaochu is only 12 sacks short of matching Greg Gathers program career sack record of 31. Attaochu had three sacks in last year's game against Maryland and was named ACC Player of the Week.
Attaochu said the team is making a successful transition from a 3-4 scheme to a 4-3 with ease. It's happening through effort.
"I want to work my butt off so by the first game of the season I can be in game shape and work from there as the season goes along to get in better shape," Attaochu said.
Attaochu considered leaving school early for the NFL draft but decide to return for his senior season after talking things over with his family.
"I like the direction we're going on defense," he said. "I want to get better on the football field and keep improving in the classroom."
Attaochu and the rest of the defense have looked fast and aggressive. Head coach Paul Johnson noted the effort after the practice Wednesday. The front seven was particularly disruptive, Johnson said, during the 11-on-11 team period and forced quick throws from the quarterbacks.
"The defense was flying around and competing," he said.
Note: The Yellow Jackets will begin preparation for the season opener against Elon on Monday, when students report for the first day of classes. "You're getting ready all the time," Johnson said. "We'll start working on the specific game plan on Monday."