The Twitterverse was blowing up 55 minutes after midnight on Sept. 18. Senior defensive tackle Tramel Walthour announced a very early commitment to the University of Georgia.
Standing 6’4” and 270 pounds, Walthour lines up as three technique between the guard and tackle and was a major haul for Georgia. The super athletic recruiting class of 2017 that was top five in the country brought the haul of Walthour’s teammate Richard LeCounte III, Jake Fromm, and Vidalia’s speedy linebacker Nate McBride among others.
In that class though, there was not one defensive lineman. Many of the Georgia faithful hope that Walthour’s early commitment will net more beef for the D-line.
Walthour has been playing football since age 8. However, when he was a freshman he played varsity defensive tackle for Liberty County High School and witnessed first-hand the resurgence of the program.
“It’s an honor to come behind so many great players who come from the same place I come from, and also it gives me motivation that I can do the same,” Walthour said.
The program went from occasionally making the playoffs to winning a shootout against Pierce County for their first outright Region 3-AAA title, and their season didn’t end until a double overtime loss against Greater Atlanta Christian in the AAA semi-finals.
“It’s an honor and privilege to be part of a team that has a lot of pride in their program,” Walthour said.
As he went through his first season with the varsity, he learned how to use his size to his advantage and to become much more cerebral about the game of football. Tearing up the practice turf; working on quick feet; and firing out of the steel cage chutes low and fast, getting his hands inside the opposite player, Walthour gained more confidence in his ability. He also did some serious work in the weight room, which added to his strength and speed.
“Early morning workouts, going in the weight room, and working as hard as I can and doing whatever my strength coach has for us to do,” Walthour said.
Liberty County football runs in the family. His brother, Tracy White, a lockdown corner and also a strong player on the 2016 championship basketball team, is now playing corner at Old Dominion University.
The hard work that Walthour put in got noticed. He ended up a three-star recruit and No. 47 in the entire Class of 2018 as a defensive tackle. He also got to see how he would do against some of the best talent in the United States at different elite and invitation-only combines.
Closer to home, he played in the Rising Seniors Bowl last year, which puts the best juniors in the entire state of Georgia playing each other.
“It’s always a good experience,” Walthour said. “I love to compete against players that are as good as or sometimes even better. It’s a good way to learn new things from them.”
Kirby Smart missed out on landing Liberty County’s Raekwon McMillan when he was still the defensive coordinator at Alabama. But once Kirby Smart came home to Georgia, a lot of the talented players decided to stay too.
McMillan got every Division I coach to set their GPS to Liberty County. Walthour definitely passed the eye test, but what really sold recruiters were his feet and how quickly he was able to come off of the ball. Auburn, Ohio State, Georgia, and a host of others all beckoned Walthour to come to their respective schools.
“It’s been very stressful, and nobody told me anything about the process,” Walthour said.
A lot of that stress disappeared when he tweeted mid-September that he would be playing for UGA in the fall of 2018.
“I already had my mind set on UGA before I even had a scholarship offer from them, and it’s going to be real exciting to be able to go and play with Richard knowing that we grew up playing with each other,” Walthour said. “We can both just go out there and put on for our city.”
When asked if technique or strength were more important for a lineman, Walthour stayed true to his defensive line roots.
“Technique,” he said. “My favorite technique is the ‘out, in, and swim’ move.”
Lining up his three technique, the first thing Walthour looks at is the formation, and then he keys the hips of the offensive linemen. When the ball snaps, natural instincts take over, and in the blink of an eye, you see his size working in concert with quick feet. A second later he has shed the offensive lineman’s block, his heels are on the line of scrimmage, and he has a pursuit angle on the ball carrier.
“I engage the offensive lineman, shoot my hands, get off the block, and get to the football,” he said. “I hope to be one of the best defensive linemen to come through our program.”
Walthour has the goal of going to the NFL after UGA, but if he doesn’t he wants to be a sports therapist.
“It means a lot to be able to go the University of Georgia,” Walthour said. “It has a great program and is just getting better and better. It’s just a blessing and privilege to be able to be a part of it in the future and to further my education and pursue my career.”
By W. John Wood
UGA’s Future Defensive Lineman