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Saturday, July 20, 2013
Gaillard a three-down defensive lineman

By Radi Nabulsi

ATHENS, Ga. -- Fayetteville (N.C.) Pine Forest High School football coach Bob Sochovka accurately predicted when his five-star defensive tackle Lamont Gaillard was going to be a star. It was a play that could easily be overlooked on a highlight reel full of sacks and tackles for loss.

“For a big guy, he runs very well,” Sochovka said. “He has great lateral movement down the line of scrimmage. There is one play on his highlight tape where, when I saw it, I told him jokingly before all this exploded, ‘That is going to be the one that gets you recruited.’ He came down the line of scrimmage, fought off a double-team, the play went outside and he made a tackle three or four yards downfield. He said, ‘But I didn’t make the sack.’ I told him it wasn’t about that. ‘You did everything you were supposed to do and you caught the guy from behind. That was a great effort and what they want to see.’ ”

For those that like big plays instead of workmanlike stops, Gaillard can make those as well.

“That impressed me as a technician, but there are plays on his highlight tape where you can’t believe what he just did,” Sochovka said. “In one game he was playing the one-technique [inside shoulder of the guard] and they kept running jet sweeps. He basically broke the double team and got his hand in there to cause a fumble before the quarterback could give the ball to the jet sweep guy. That was how quickly he got off the ball. He dove through -- he just got skinny through that double team.”

Gaillard committed to Georgia on Saturday. Sochovka said Bulldogs defensive line coach Chris Wilson is getting more than just a disruptive force.

“They are going to get a player that can play all three downs,” Sochovka said. “He’s good enough on the pass rush and quick enough off his explosion that you don’t have to bring in a smaller, quicker guy to give you an inside pass rush. He is definitely a guy who can play all three downs at the college level.”

The nation’s No. 12 prospect can play multiple spots on the defensive line as well.

“I am going off what the college coaches tell me,” Sochovka said. “They say he can play that five-technique, where he lines up on the outside shoulder of the weakside tackle. You don’t lose much in terms of the push you get from him on the outside and he can contain the outside. So if he is in a 3-4 or 3-5 defense, which Georgia runs, I think they may be playing him more as a five than a three. Other schools have said he can play the one, the three and the five. So it depends on who you talk to, but he is very versatile in that regard.”

Apparently that versatility comes from Gaillard’s overall athleticism.

“He is athletic for as big as he is,” Sochovka said. “His strength is in his lower body -- good strength in his squat ant his power clean. His upper body strength isn’t what he wants it to be yet, but two out of three ain’t bad when you are a high school player.”

Gaillard squats 550 pounds, power-cleans 345 pounds and benches 285. The last number seems a bit low for the nation’s No. 2 defensive tackle.

“He got off to a late start,” Sochovka said. “It was funny because when we down to Florida the first time, the strength coach said they were big on free lifts: power-clean, squats and bench, in that order. Lamont had a big smile on his face as if to say, ‘See, coach, bench isn’t such a big deal.’ The strength coach said they wanted all their guys to be over 500, 300 and 300 pounds on each lift [respectively]. I told Lamont, ‘You still have a ways to go on bench to get to 300.’ He said, ‘You’re right, coach.’ ”

Aside from additional weight room work, the 6-foot-4, 300-pound senior apparently looks forward to letting everyone know where they can find him in college.

“He asked me, ‘Hey coach, after I commit to Georgia, when we are beating teams really bad and I come off, can I take my helmet off and wear my Georgia hat?’ ” Sochovka said. “I told him I think so, but let me check that it is not a violation of the NCAA rules. So I asked one of the Georgia coaches that and they said, ‘Yes, that is what we want him to do.’ ”