- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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ATLANTA -- One teammate called him a monster. Another called him a beast. It is time for the rest of the ACC to get reacquainted with Jabari Hunt-Days, rush end turned defensive tackle, with the potential to make a huge impact in 2015.
While Hunt-Days sat out this past season because he was academically ineligible, he did not actually do much sitting. He did gaining. A lot of gaining. As a member of the scout team, the coaching staff decided to move him inside to see what he could do there.
Coach Paul Johnson was impressed, so much so that Hunt-Days was asked to gain weight to make the transition to tackle. Hunt-Days is now a lean, mean 295 pounds and has turned heads so far during the spring starting next to veteran Adam Gotsis. The expectation is that Hunt-Days will be eligible to play his senior season.
“I’ve seen a guy that’s extremely willing to learn, a guy that’s gotten better every practice and a guy who’s made a lot of strides off the field,” defensive coordinator Ted Roof said. “We’re not there yet, but that’s going in a really good direction right now. There’s still a ways to go but he’s trying to take a step every day and he’s done that. I’m real proud of him. He’s taken ownership of most everything in his life now.”
A-back Dennis Andrews has seen Hunt-Days firsthand this spring. “Jabari’s going to be a monster,” he said.
So has defensive end KeShun Freeman, who directly benefitted from Hunt-Days being ineligible. Freeman was inserted into the rush end spot Hunt-Days was supposed to play and ended up becoming a Freshman All-American.
Now with Freeman and Hunt-Days slated to start together on the line, the entire Jackets front should be much improved.
“I don’t think there’s a single person on the team who hasn’t said this -- he will make a play fast and everyone’s like, ‘That man is a beast!” Freeman said. “He’s a different breed than anyone else. He just has it. He’s that person that can make a mistake but bounce back and do it better the next time. He’s one of the guys on the field you should look up to because he has the energy, the go-get it mentality.”
Roof said Hunt-Days is better suited to playing tackle because he is more instinctive.
“There’s some guys who are a little bit robotic as far as feeling things and having a knack for getting off blocks. He’s very instinctive,” Roof said. “He naturally reacts correctly so much more of the time from a percentage standpoint because his world has shrunk. Usually that helps everybody when you shrink people’s pictures.”
That, in turn, should help expand what Georgia Tech can do defensively.
834dAndrea Adelson and Heather Dinich