Georgia Tech offensive lineman Omoregie Uzzi was a second-team all-conference guard last year on an offense that led the nation in rushing. On paper, the strength of Georgia Tech’s line this year will be its guards, where Uzzi and Will Jackson will be the leaders.
I caught up with Uzzi recently to tell him he had a great name for the NFL, to get his take on how the Jackets look up front and what the overall attitude of the team is heading into summer camp.
What’s the mentality of the linemen at this point, because it seemed like everything I had heard coming out of spring, Coach [Paul] Johnson wasn’t exactly thrilled with your group?
Omoregie Uzzi: Basically we’re all trying to get better. We all know we have stuff to work on, and we have some young guys and don’t have as much depth or experience as we did last year. We’re just trying to get on the same page.
How difficult has that been?
OE: It hasn’t been too difficult. The only tough part about it is you can’t really get in-game experience from watching film or doing footwork drills.
How much pride do you guys take in the fact that you play a huge role in Georgia Tech leading the nation in rushing?
OE: We take a lot of pride in it. We know that every year we should be in the top two or three in rushing. It’s very important to us that we stay on top of that.
It’s going to be the first year you’re playing without Sean Bedford at center. How different is that going to be for you?
OE: Sean brought a lot of things to our line. He’s a great leader. He was up-tempo, he played very hard, and he was the type of player that played so hard you wanted to emulate what he did. I guess we’ll all be trying to fit that role now, to play as hard as Sean did. He was a great player.
Expectations are pretty high for you as well this year. What’s your own personal outlook for this season?
OE: My own personal outlook is just to do the best I can for our team. We’re not trying to lose any games this year. A lot of people are counting us out right now, so whatever I can do to help the team, whatever role I can do to help the team, I’ll do, whether it’s being a vocal leader or leading by example on the field, so be it.
You’re right about that. It does seem this year that expectations are a bit lower for you guys. Why do you think that is, how aware of it are you and how hard are you guys working to prove people wrong again?
OE: I think that’s because we lost a lot of players from last year, especially in key roles. We lost [Josh] Nesbitt, Brad Jefferson … I think the defense is going to be very, very good this year. For one thing, they’ve stepped it up a lot as far as their attitude and playing hard. It was a whole different mentality this spring as far as how hard they played. They’re not settling for anything. The offense has to step up to the level they’re playing at.
You mentioned attitude. It’s something I’ve heard repeatedly about your team, how it’s a lot better this year. What do you think was missing there last year?
OE: I think we got complacent. I guess … there’s more to it than that. You’ve got to want it. You have to have that want-to.
Who’s responsible for that? Where did the motivation come from?
OE: I don’t think it was one person in particular. Coach Johnson, he talked to us earlier in the year about it. He made more of an issue out of it this year, that we need more leadership. Last year didn’t cut it.The whole team is coming together, realizing we have to do more, we have to do better.
Are you one of the guys he expects to be a leader?
OE: I think so. I hope so.