November 3, 2009
Izaan Cross is a true freshman seeing significant time at defensive end due to injuries at the position. His solid play throughout fall camp as well as during practice has given him the opportunity to contribute this season. Cross made his first splash on the defense with two tackles against Mississippi State, followed by another tackle against Florida State and then one more against Virginia Tech. Cross had the best game of his short career thus far last weekend with three tackles, a tackle for loss, and a fumble recovery against Vandy.
Cross described the team's performance versus Vandy by saying, "We knew that we could play a lot better in the second half compared to how we played in the first half. We made a couple of small errors, but we knew that once we straightened that up that we would be in good shape. Coach said that he knew that we could play better. We made some careless errors such as missed tackles, which are things that we knew could be corrected. Also, when we see the offense making plays like they were, we feel like we have to step up on defense."
Cross hails from Flowery Branch high school, where he played with current Georgia Tech players Jaybo Shaw and Daniel Drummond. A lot was expected from of Cross coming to college, as he was ranked as high as 18th in the nation at his position in high school, just not necessarily this quickly.
He has enjoyed his experience thus far. Cross says, "it is fun out there. I always think about the fact that at this time last year, I was in high school taking it easy, but now I'm in a totally different league and it feels good for me to be impacting this team."
Adjusting his game from the high school level to the collegiate level, however, has not exactly been a walk in the park for the freshman. He summed up the challenges of playing college football by replying, "The mental part of the game has been the biggest adjustment. Knowing my assignments is important so that I can play free without worrying about making mistakes. In high school, I would not have to worry about making mistakes because I could make up for them. I think my problem at the beginning of the season is that I was thinking way too much. I am now feeling much more comfortable within the defensive scheme which allows me to play freely."
Cross is still working to improve his game each week. When asked about what specifically he wants to improve, he responded, "I'd like to rush the passer better, I haven't really gotten any pressure or any sacks. I am studying film and working on my moves every week. I also need to know what everybody else is doing on defense so that I know the moves that I can make. That will tell me whether I can make an inside move or an outside move, knowing that I will not run into anybody. I also watch Derrick Morgan a lot. I do not think that Derrick has one specific pass rush move, he has a variety of them. That variety helps me to expand my repertoire."
Cross might have an opportunity to make his third career start this weekend against Wake Forest. His previous two starts came against Florida State and Virginia Tech, when Anthony Egbuniwe was out with an illness. He will be competing this week in practice with Egbuniwe for the starting nod. Cross approached the subject by stating, "I'm not really worried about that, I'm worried about impacting the team and doing whatever I can do to help us win."
He has already made an impact on the team as a true freshman and his progress this season along with his unassuming attitude suggests that he has all of the tools to develop into a future star on Tech's defense.
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