Amarlo Herrera grades the defense

ATHENS, Ga. -- Sophomore middle linebacker Amarlo Herrera says he spent most of his freshmen year “just trying to not mess up.” Although it didn’t show, Herrera was nervous and worried he was out of place. That all changed when, before the season, the Georgia coaching staff told him to relax and have fun. Herrera responded, and through six games he leads the team in tackles.

That statistic surprised him.

“I really didn't think I would be playing as much as I am playing now, but there were a couple of situations that allowed me to play more,” Herrera said. “Also the schemes that we run allow me to make a lot of tackles. Having those big guys up front and with everybody wanting to double up on Jarvis [Jones] and Big John [Jenkins], I have no choice but to make tackles.”

On a defense full of juniors and seniors, Herrera is one of the younger starters. His production has commanded the respect of his fellow defenders.

“I don’t know if that makes me a leader on the team, but I try to be a good middle linebacker,” Herrera said. “We are the leaders on the field, so I try to lead there.”

The Georgia defensive play calls go through the middle linebackers, and Herrera was recently entrusted with that role. He had a hard time being heard at the recent South Carolina game.

“It went well,” Herrera said. “Everybody was in their right spot, but we just need to get out there faster. We gave up too many big plays at crucial times. We were not disciplined sometimes.”

Herrera says those slips in discipline give the Bulldogs a grade of “B-” so far this year.