August 12, 2009

Rocker looking for a home on the line

Sophomore defender Albert Rocker has been a man looking for a way to get on the field since he arrived at Georgia Tech and joined the football team. Rocker started his career as a linebacker moved to defensive end in the spring and moved to defensive tackle when fall camp began. Defensive line coach Giff Smith has been trying to figure out how to get Rocker on the field and he came up with a solution. Rocker will play all four defensive line positions this fall.

"Defensive tackle is treating me well and I am actually playing all four positions across the board," Rocker said. "Coach Smith told me to learn everything for all the positions, so whenever he is ready to put someone in he can call on me."

The transition to defensive line was difficult, but Rocker feels at home working on the line now.

"At first it was kind of tough to remember every position," he said. "Osahon Tongo and I are both doing the same thing moving around positions. All older guys know all the positions on the defensive line. You have to learn it to run it. It was a struggle, but now I have everything down and I just keep studying my playbook."

One of the biggest questions facing Rocker heading into the season is how will he deal with the oversized guards and centers many ACC schools use that have a 50 pound advantage over him.

"I am undersized for a defensive tackle, but when I get at defensive end I am more comfortable," he said. "I use my quickness to my advantage whenever someone tries to get their hands on me. I try to get off them as quickly as possible. That is the upside of being small."

Rocker expects Coach Smith to insert him in Nickel and passing down situations to use his pass rushing skills.

"I think I am one of the better pass rushers we have and I will give everything I got on every play. That is the key to a good pass rush. My speed is going to be my biggest asset. Coach Smith tells me everyday to work my speed rush. It is not like I cannot bull rush, but my speed is my advantage."

After finding out that he was moving inside, Rocker bulked up after talking to Head Coach Paul Johnson about the transition.

"I weighed in this morning at 243 pounds and my summer goal was 250. Coach Johnson set my goal for 250 and I got close to it at one point at 247, but with all this training, I have lost four or five pounds," he said. "It varies, but I feel comfortable playing at this weight."

With so many changes in position to deal with, Rocker feels like the basic elements of defensive line are the main things he needs to work on.

"The biggest thing for me is getting my technique down," he said. "Playing undersized even at defensive end, requires good technique and I need to work on getting an advantage so when we play teams like Clemson and Virginia with the bigger offensive linemen I can still do what I do out here with our linemen who are not as big those guys."

Rocker has been impressed by some of his young teammates as well who he is battling for playing time with.

"All our young guys are good. J.C. Lanier gives a good push," he said. "Izaan Cross is running with the twos and ones in the scrimmage. He is very impressive and I think all our young guys are doing a good job."

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