Gotsis ready to lead up front for Jackets

Georgia Tech defensive tackle Adam Gotsis prefers to play night games – but probably not as much as his family appreciates the late kickoffs.

When the Jackets play at 8 p.m. on a Saturday, it’s about 11 a.m. on a Sunday in Gotsis’ hometown of Abbotsford, Australia, and it’s much easier for his family to watch the game live online. If it’s a noon kick, the Gotsis family is up around 3 a.m. to watch the Jackets.

And this season, with Gotsis as the expected centerpiece of a revamped defensive line, they’re going to want to tune in.

Georgia Tech is working this spring to replace three starters on the defensive line, including defensive end Jeremiah Attaochu, who broke the school record and finished fifth in ACC history for career sacks (31.5). Gotsis is the only returner up front who started every game last year. The nose tackle ranked second on the team behind Attaochu in tackles for loss (14.5) and sacks (5.5), and he blocked two kicks against Ole Miss in the Music City Bowl. More is expected of him this season, and Gotsis said he “definitely wants to exceed” everything he did last year.

“In a way, yes, I feel like I need to be more of a leader, especially for the younger guys who have to step up this year, but I definitely have faith and trust in our coaching system and the guys who are stepping up to replace them,” Gotsis said. “We have a lot of youth, and a lot of guys who have been waiting to play football for a while, so hopefully they can come out and show off what they’ve been waiting for.”

With Attaochu, Gotsis, defensive end Emmanuel Dieke and tackle Euclid Cummings starting every game last year, there was plenty of waiting done behind them. Attaochu, Dieke and Cummings combined to play in 141 career games. The most experienced backups returning are sophomores Tyler Stargel and Pat Gamble, senior Shawn Green and junior Jimmie Kitchen. There were also two position changes as sophomore Travin Henry moved to defensive end after playing wide receiver last year, and Jabari Hunt-Days, a two-year starter at linebacker, is getting a chance at end this spring.

Replacing Attaochu’s pass-rushing abilities won’t be easy, but it has become a strength of Gotsis, as he has the potential to be one of the better defensive linemen in the ACC. His journey from Australia is far from over. He has a huge Australian flag hanging in his room, but he won’t be going home again anytime soon. The junior said he’ll continue to rely on Skype and text messages to keep in touch with his parents and four siblings.

“It’s tough, but my football team is pretty much my family now,” Gotsis said. “It’s pretty good, having a good bunch of guys around who go through everything with you and will always be there. It’s good knowing they’re there for me.”

They’ll expect the same in return from him this fall.