Courtesy of LA Tech Athletic Communications
With a new position coach and plenty of newcomers, the Louisiana Tech defensive linemen have been hungry for opportunities and eager to learn in fall camp as they prepare for the 2023 season.
Jacori Greer takes the reigns of the Bulldogs’ defensive line in 2023 after spending the 2020-22 seasons as the defensive line coach at Texas State. Greer has been pleased with his group’s hunger and willingness to work during his time in Ruston.
“I would say that we are hungry and eager to learn,” Greer said. “We have a lot of talent and this group. Getting coached up every day is the big thing, and I am staying on them. I push them hard each day, but they show up ready to work every day, and I really appreciate that about this group.”
The Bulldogs return some experience on the edge with Deshon Hall Jr. and Mykol Clark back. Redshirt sophomore J’Dan Burnett and Stephen F. Austin transfer Rason Williams II have also impressed in camp so far.
“I like what we are doing on the edge,” Greer said. “Deshon Hall, J’Dan Burnett, Mykol Clark and Rason Williams III have really pushed the envelope with this group and are taking charge of leadership, which has been really fun to see. We are continuing to push guys and get our number up to eight or nine guys that can execute and contribute.”
Hall Jr. has garnered preseason recognition from numerous outlets. The Gonzales, La., product was named to the 2023 Conference USA Preseason Watch List and Shrine Bowl 1000 in addition to being named Third-team All-CUSA by Phil Steele and second-team honors from Athlon Sports. The senior had 29 tackles a year ago, including four for loss, two pass breakups, two quarterback hurries, and a blocked kick. In 2021 he registered 45 total tackles (24 solo, 21 assists), with 6.0 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.
Clark has appeared in 35 games while making 16 starts. The redshirt junior has tallied 64 total tackles, 10.5 tackles-for-loss, and 3.5 sacks during his Tech career. Clark believes that the Bulldogs’ defensive linemen bring many different looks and are much quicker off the ball.
“We have a bunch of dogs,” Clark said. “We have a lot of quickness off the ball and have improved on the pass rush. We will be more consistent overall with the guys we have this year. We have a lot of new guys that can bring many different things to the table, which has increased our depth compared to last year. I am excited for us this year.”
Burnett returns after appearing in all 12 games last season with one start, tallying 19 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss. Burnett arguably had one of the most impressive defensive performances of any Bulldog in a 52-17 win over Stephen F. Austin on Sept. 10. Burnett returned a fumble 30 yards for a touchdown while forcing and recovering two fumbles.
Williams arrives in Ruston from SFA, where he appeared in 33 total games over his four seasons as a Lumberjack, tallying 27 total tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss.
Iowa State transfer Jayden Gray arrives in Ruston with three years of eligibility. Gray redshirted in 2021 before appearing in five games in 2022, tallying five tackles while appearing primarily on special teams. Gray entered the transfer portal looking for a program closer to home where he could make an impact and be led by a player’s coach.
“The big reason was to be closer to home,” Gray said. “When I entered the portal, I was looking for a good player-coach relationship and when people talk about Sonny Cumbie, they talk about how he is a player’s coach, so that was a big thing in my decision. Louisiana Tech also stood out to me because it was somewhere where I could get on the field and develop and improve in all aspects of the game.”
Zion Nason and Jakobe Brock are the only other returnees besides Hall Jr. and Clark from a year ago. The LA Tech coaching staff also brought in transfers Ezekiel Durham-Campbell (Lenoir Rhyne), Jesse Evans (Prairie View A&M), Kells Bush (LSU), David Blay (West Chester), Reggie Jones (Temple), Omar Pew (Northwest Mississippi CC) and Zyun Reeves (NC State).
Incoming freshmen include, Obinna Okeke, Charlie Robinson, Delvin Whitaker and Judd Rouyea.
Greer and defensive coordinator Scott Power have made the importance of everyone understanding their assignments and doing their job throughout the summer and fall camp.
“Attention to detail has been a big emphasis throughout camp,” Greer added. “Guys need to be doing their jobs. Coach Power does a good job of letting guys know that they need to focus on doing their jobs. We do not need guys to go out there and try to do crazy, extraordinary things to be successful. Everybody has to do their job really well.”
The Bulldog defensive line will continue to prepare for their week zero Conference USA showdown with FIU on Aug. 26 at 8 p.m. inside Joe Alliet Stadium when Louisiana Tech opens its 120th season of collegiate football.
“I am glad we get one of the first cracks of a college football game,” Clark said. “Playing last year and falling in a close game was tough and we are really ready to have another shot at them at home for redemption. We need to get that first win. It is more exciting to open the season with a conference game. Once you get that first conference game and first win under the belt is big.”