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Amarlo Herrera has made big impact at Georgia

Former North Clayton teammates to meet in big state rivalry

Coming into Saturday’s game against state rival Georgia Tech, Georgia linebacker Amarlo Herrera is the Bulldogs second-leading tackler with 95 tackles. (Special Photo)

Coming into Saturday’s game against state rival Georgia Tech, Georgia linebacker Amarlo Herrera is the Bulldogs second-leading tackler with 95 tackles. (Special Photo)

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Former North Clayton standout Amarlo Herrera says not returning to this year’s SEC championship game has been a ‘disappointment’ for the Georgia Bulldogs. (Special Photo)

ATHENS — There were big expectations placed on Georgia linebacker Amarlo Herrera coming into the season.

With the Bulldogs expected to challenge again for the SEC title, the former North Clayton standout was expected to play a major role on the defense at the inside linebacker spot.

Although the Bulldogs won’t be challenging for the SEC title after a ‘disappointing’ 7-4 season, including 5-3 in their conference schedule, Herrera has had a big season.

Coming into today’s regular season final against rival Georgia Tech at historic Grant Field, the 6-foot-2, 244-pounder is the team’s second-leading tackler. He has 95 tackles coming into the 3:30 p.m. national televised game.

“The season has gone pretty well for me,” Herrera said earlier this week. “I felt like I had to step up and play a bigger role on the defense. I have tried to be a leader.”

Herrera was being looked upon to replace the big playmaking abilities of Alec Ogletree coming into the season. The first-round draft choice of the St. Louis Rams was the Bulldogs’ leading tackler last season on a team that lost in the SEC title game at the Georgia Dome to Alabama.

With Ogletree in the profession ranks, Herrera was being thrust into the spotlight. It is nothing new for Herrera, a former all-state player at North Clayton.

He started the season last year when Ogletree was sitting out a four-game suspension for some off-the-field problems.

“I never thought a lot about replacing him,” Herrera said. “I just wanted to come into the season and help this team in any way that I could. We wanted to play for the SEC championship. It is a big disappointment not getting back to that game. We had the mindset coming into the season that we were going to have a big year.”

The Bulldogs will play in a bowl game during the holiday season.

But the first order of business for Herrera and his teammates is today’s game against Georgia Tech. The Bulldogs will be without standout record-setting quarterback Aaron Murray, who sustained a torn ACL injury in last week’s 59-17 win against Kentucky in the team’s final home game at Stanford Stadium.

Herrera said a win over the Yellow Jackets would help end the regular season on a high note.

“It is a big game for us,” Herrar said. “They are a big rival. You come into every season wanted to beat Georgia Tech.”

It will also mark the final time that Herrera will get to play against his former high school teammate Emmanuel Dieke on the collegiate level. Dieke, a defensive end, is a senior for the Yellow Jackets, which will observe “Senior Day” festivities.

“I’m very happy for him,” Herrera said. “He has had a great career. We talked a lot and are good friends off the field. We each want our team to win.”