March 15, 2009

Tyson leaner, meaner

Defensive tackle DeAngelo Tyson admits he doesn't know all that much about golf.

So it was no wonder that Tyson looked at Rodney Garner a little half-cocked when his position coach told him to take the governor off his cart, the Statesboro native appeared somewhat confused.

"Coach Garner knows I like to have a challenge, so he tells me it's just a matter of me playing with my governor off so I can go faster," chuckled Tyson. "He tells me to take the cover off and go faster, so that's what I try to do."

Apparently, Tyson's motor was revved up enough last fall for Garner to let the him play in all 13 games as a true freshman, making 11 tackles and five quarterback hurries.

With spring practice just two days away, Tyson is looking forward to playing an even more increased role on Georgia's defensive line, which looks to be one of the team's early strengths.

With good reason:

Geno Atkins (6-1, 290) is back after leading the defensive linemen with 34 tackles, including 7.5 for loss, but it's the return of senior Jeff Owens from a torn ACL who has caused the most buzz.

The Bulldogs lost Owens in last year's opener against Georgia Southern and it wasn't until January that the Florida native decided to return instead of moving onto the NFL.

Obviously, Tyson, who went on to earn Freshman All-SEC honors, is happy his buddy made the decision that he did.

"He brings a lot of experience back to the defensive line," Tyson said. "I was happy that he made the decision that he did, and it was his decision to come back. As long as he wants to come back and help the team I'm fine with it."

But Owens' return isn't the only reason the Bulldogs' interior is considered such a strength.

Kade Weston (6-5, 316) is back for his senior year, along with impressive walk-on Brandon Wheeling who transferred two years ago from West Georgia.

Ricardo Crawford (6-1, 297) and Brandon Wood (6-1, 282) are also back, but Wood won't practice this spring while he recovers from shoulder and wrist surgery back in January.

Tyson, meanwhile, boasts that he's in the best shape of his career.

"I was 312 pounds when I came to camp and I had to lose weight," he said. "I just did a lot of running, did a lot of different things to get my body in shape. I'm definitely in better shape than I was before."

He isn't kidding.

Tyson has dropped almost 15 pounds since first coming to school in June, having weighed in recently at 297.

"It's all just a matter of working your tail off, which is what I've tried to do," Tyson said. "I was able to learn the playbook pretty good over the summer, and was able to get out there and play."

Of course, having just gone through his first mat drills has been an eye-opening experience as well.

"It's a real mental test, because there's a lot you have to fight through," Tyson said. "But that's the kind of thing that really helps you pull together as a team. It should be a fun spring."

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