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Alec Ogletree is set for takeoff

8/31/2011

If what those around Alec Ogletree say is correct, he should mimic a destructive storm on the field this fall.

He’s calm and quiet at first, but out of nowhere things change. Like a rumbling thunder accompanying an ominous cloud, he’ll sneak up and startle you -- if you’re lucky.

If you’re one of the unfortunate few who has to deal with him head on, he’ll strike like a debilitating lightning bolt and you quickly learn that he isn’t afraid to lay the lumber and harass those who dare try to get by him.

The sophomore linebacker, who projects a tranquil, humble attitude away from the field, won’t brag about his power, but his teammates will.

“You describe him in one word, which is a ‘beast,’” linebacker Jarvis Jones said.

“He lay heavy. Every time he hits something, you’re going to hear that leather. That’s one of the best things about playing linebacker, you can lay heavy and he does that.”

Ogletree arrived at Georgia last season as one of the top safety prospects coming out of high school. He says he was “strictly” a safety in high school, and during his first season with the Bulldogs he accumulated 34 tackles in 12 games, including five starts.

But this spring, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham decided it was time for a change. He approached Ogletree about playing inside linebacker, where he thought he could progress more as a player and be even deadlier with his speed and instincts.

Ogletree admits he was hesitant at first, but after realizing the confidence Grantham had in his potential, Ogletree took the chance.

“With a coach coming from the NFL, he pretty much knows what guys are looking for and obviously he thinks I can be a good linebacker,” Ogletree said. “I thought about it for a while and came up with the decision to make the move.”

From Day 1, Grantham was pleased. A slight smirk surely formed on his face when he saw how well Ogletree took this his new position.

“He can run, he can hit. He’s going to be a good linebacker,” Grantham said of his first impressions when he saw Ogletree at linebacker.

“He can do all the things you look for from a linebacker. From a size standpoint, from a speed standpoint, he’s the kind of guy you want to have playing this position.”

So far, things have gone smoothly. Getting valuable time in 2010, Ogletree already knew the defense, but the biggest adjustment was how he had to use his hands more and interact with linemen more. It wasn’t the easiest transition, but after a few practices, he felt like he could deal with a little more contact.

This preseason, Ogletree solidified himself as a true high-flyer. He was one of the most productive defensive players during scrimmages and with that safety speed he made plays all over the field.

Jones said there were times when he simply stopped and watched as Ogletree ran sideline to sideline to make plays or chase down some of the faster offensive players from behind.

“He’s quiet, but he’s one of those players that you’re going to see standout on the field,” Jones said. “He can run, he can hit. He’s just a true playmaker and he has fun doing it.”

Ogletree understands that there is a little more hype to his second year than his first. He knows people look at him as one of the budding stars in this league.

What could be pressure for some is motivation for Ogletree. He wants to be great and considered the best.

And Ogletree wants to mimic a cyclone on the field, inflicting as much chaos as possible.

“My goal is to just run to the ball every play, even when it’s across the field or I have to run somebody down,” he said. “That’s just my deal -- trying to get to the ball every play.”