August 20, 2002
ATLANTA - Georgia Tech has a defensive end who is quick enough to beat tackles around the outside, strong enough to stand up blockers and stuff a running play and energetic enough that he will have to be accounted for on virtually every snap.
No, not All-American candidate Greg Gathers, although the Yellow Jackets' senior certainly qualifies, as well. How about sophomore Tony Hargrove, a Gathers-in-training who looks ready to have a break-out season this year opposite Tech's more publicized end.
Hargrove, a 6-4, 255-pound physical specimen from Punta Gorde, Fla., bleached his black hair blonde this summer but doesn't figure to have any problem standing out in a crowd anyway. He is a former high school quarterback and safety who had 1,700 yards of total offense in addition to making 160 tackles and nine interceptions during his senior season at Port Charlotte High.
He was recruited by Tech as a linebacker, but when the Jackets' defensive coaches noticed his combination of strength and quickness, they started using him at end on passing downs. Hargrove and Nick Rogers would line up on the edge, allowing Gathers to move inside and try to overpower guards and centers.
Playing almost exclusively in obvious passing situations in 2001, Hargrove finished with two sacks and six tackles for loss. He had a monster game in the win over N.C. State, coming up with a sack, two tackles for loss and two pressures, while also forcing two fumbles, including one the Jackets returned for a touchdown.
Hargrove did not disappoint in the spring, either, emerging last April with a starting position after beating out junior and former Parade All-American Hobie Holiday. First-year coach Chan Gailey is expecting big things out of Hargrove this fall, and said he wouldn't hesitate to play him on both passing and running downs.
"He has certainly come out this fall and picked up where he left off last spring, and made jumps even this fall," Gailey said. "I could see him having a big impact on our defense early."
Hargrove should benefit from the presence of Gathers, who already is Tech's career leader in both sacks (30) and tackles for loss (56). If teams decide to keep a tight end or a running back in to help block Gathers, that likely would leave Hargrove in a one-on-one situation on the other side. Given the way Hargrove's motor runs, Gailey will take his chances with that matchup.
"(Hargrove) plays with unbelievable intensity every snap. Not every other snap, not three out of four, he plays with unbelievable intensity every snap," Gailey said. "He has some talent. But a lot of guys have talent. They just don't play with that kind of intensity. He's unbelievable in that respect."