Second, check out the chassis. He’s listed at 6-foot-3, 245 pounds, and all of it with the body fat of a celery stick. Moving more over to tackle in the new (3-4) alignment of new defensive coordinator Nate Woody, he’ll face up more against those bigger brutes than a season ago playing end in Ted Roof’s 4-3. Life’s all about adjustment, he knows. And he can’t wait to set those big tackles spinning on their heels like an overmatched dance partner.
From the time Saint-Amour came to Tech as a prized recruit from North Gwinnett High, there were questions about his lack of sheer mass. He compensated by turning into a Marvel Comics character in the weight room. “It was a constant thing trying to get a few more pounds on me,” he said. “I feel like I can make up for it with my speed, always staying in the weight room and making sure everything I lack in weight I can make up for in power and speed,” he said.
As Tech opens the season against Alcorn State of the FCS, about the only real intrigue is the new look of Woody’s Yellow Jackets defense. That’s a stunning twist in itself. Defense is never a fascination on The Flats, more a grudging necessity after one of Paul Johnson’s option plays goes blooey. But now, there’s all this talk of renewed aggressive approach. As if the former regime perceived defense to be as passive an undertaking as organic farming.
To look at the new season through Saint-Amour’s eyes is to see the quest for something better that follows almost everyone into September. He may have been second among Yellow Jackets last season in sacks and tackles for loss, but both those numbers were unexceptional (2.5 and 5.5). Last season’s defense was unassertive, ranking 119th in FBS in tackles for a loss (4.27), 125th in takeaways (10) and T-114th in sacks per game (1.2). Such results caved in the Roof administration.
So along comes Woody, promising to take off the restrictor plate on defense and mash the throttle to the floor. What defender wouldn’t take to that vow?
“I feel like we’re all excited,” Saint-Amour said. “It’s an attacking defense, an aggressive defense. I think we’re all excited to see how many more plays we can make with this defense.
“I’m anxious to get off the ball. I’m anxious to shoot the gaps.” Ah, it’s football-speak season again.
Saint-Amour’s dad is a preacher. Both parents immigrated from Haiti. Football wasn’t any part of the family culture. “I don’t think my mom knew anything about football, she just wanted us to get into something,” he said. His older brother showed the way, playing the game that helps define the American South, playing his way to Georgia Southern. Little brother then took the game a little farther, drawing interest from such programs as Stanford and Ohio State, before deciding to settle at home.
He doesn’t seem to be regretting the decision. “Having my folks around me – any time things get rough I always have the people I love right next to me. A great support system, a great school,” he said.
“I know in high school you kind of have that hope of making it to the NFL and being a Hall of Famer. But seeing other guys go through it here, you learn that football isn’t the only other route.”
Priorities lined up? Check.
Quarterbacks and ballcarriers all lined up in the cross hairs, as well? We’ll see.
Here at the dawn of a new college football season let’s leave it to one Tech senior to sound reveille: “It’s the last year, the last ride. I’m looking to start the season off great. I’m looking for a championship.”
Saint-Amour need say no more. Toe, meet leather already.
Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Nate Woody was born Dec. 30, 1960 in Burlington, N.C., and graduated from T.L. Hanna High in Anderson, S.C. T.L. Hanna was the setting for the motion picture "Radio" that starred Cuba Gooding Jr. Nate Woody played at Wofford and later was defensive coordinator there (2000-12) and at Appalachian State (2013-17). App State defenses ranked in the top 30 in the FBS in each of Woody's final four seasons as coordinator. Woody played two seasons at defensive back and two at lin
Georgia Tech linebacker Victor Alexander led the Yellow Jackets in tackles in 2017, with 60, and had two sacks. Tech linebacker Brant Mitchell recorded 51 total tackles in 2017, the second most among players returning for 2018. Tech linebacker Bruce Jordan-Swilling recorded 34 tackles as a freshman in 2017. Tech defensive end Anree Saint-Amour ranked second in sacks (2.5) and tackles for loss (5.5) in 2017. Tech defensive lineman Desmond Branch produced 3.5 tackles for loss in 2017, the third most on the