After a year in the 3-4 defense, the Mean Green will make the transition back to the 4-3 in 2007. After losing only one starter, defensive tackle Sky Pruitt, the line will be anchored by its pair of defensive ends. Jeremiah Chapman returns for his senior season after earning all-conference honors in 2006. As the team leader in sacks and tackles for loss as a junior, Chapman will be a 2007 preseason awards candidate. At the other defensive end Blake Burruss saw the majority of the action last year and provided a firm compliment to Chapman. Burruss started nine of the 12 games and is expected to have a standout senior season. There will be competition for playing time from several players such as Tye Rexrode, Eddrick Gilmore, and Marquis Sykes. Gilmore redshirted in 2006 after playing in 11 games as a true freshman in 2005. Draylen Ross will also be an intriguing prospect after moving from tight end. On the interior of the line the Mean Green will have plenty of bodies to put to work. Issac Thomas, Montey Stevenson and Joseph Miller will all battle for the two starting tackle positions. All three played in every game last year and should benefit from playing in the new 4-3 scheme. Stevenson and Miller each had at least 30 tackles last year while Thomas showed signs of being dominant despite being slowed by injury. Sophomore Jonathan Stewart will also get a lot of playing time.
Top Returning Tacklers on Defensive Line
Jeremiah Chapman 52
Montey Stevenson 33
Joseph Miller 30
Issac Thomas - 11
Defensive Coordinator Ron Mendoza on the Defensive Line
“We have been very impressed with the play of our front four during spring practice. We know that it all starts up front on defense and we like the energy and the way they all run to the ball. By going back to the 4-3 defense we are taking advantage of our depth and experience on the defensive line. There are five or six guys that have a lot of game experience and they are all familiar with this system. We believe that this group has a chance to be the strength of our defense.”