Houston sees leaders emerging on defense

semerson@macon.comJune 19, 2014 

ATHENS - There's been a lot of talk about defensive leadership lately, namely the lack of it on last year's team. So an observation made by an offensive player on Thursday is worth passing along.

Last weekend Georgia's entire team was put through a simulated set of exercises by current and former military members. It included some Army Rangers, for example, and was meant to be a team-building exercise.

Kolton Houston, a senior offensive linemen, noticed that three players in particular were vocal in organizing and leading their teammates: Inside linebackers Amarlo Herrera and Ramik Wilson, and safety Corey Moore. All three are seniors.

"For the defensive side it showed that we actually do have some good defensive leaders," Houston said. "Corey and Amarlo, they really stepped up. And so did Ramik. That was good to see."

Houston said Moore was the most vocal, which is a positive sign for the beleaguered secondary.

Later, Houston was asked why those players taking leadership role stood out.

"Just because of all the changes they went through, and the coaching staff," he said. "Back two years ago the offense was the biggest question, but this spring the defense was the biggest question. They were always getting heat. And especially when you have new coaches it's kind of hard for the guys out there. And so when this came around those leaders solidified themselves."

On the offensive side, Houston said the "main three leaders" are quarterback Hutson Mason, receiver Chris Conley and center David Andrews.

Sophomore inside linebacker Ryne Rankin, the other player UGA made available to talk about last weekend, was quizzed on the effect of the offseason upheaval on his side of the ball. On the players leaving, Rankin said he didn't think Georgia had a problem with player attrition.

"You've just gotta act right," he said.

He was asked more directly: Will the defense be better off without the players who have left, despite their talent?

"I don't know, it's sad to see people leave the program. But you've just gotta be able to act right," Rankin said. "I mean, grow up, be a man. You act wrong outside there and you're gonna end up in jail. It's simple."

On the coaching front, Rankin reinforced the offseason theme: Simpler is better, thanks to new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.

"Pruitt just simplified everything. It's just so simple. It's night and day," Rankin said. "We knew the play, but then it was so much going on. The plays this year are so much simpler."

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