Isaiah Johnson said that enrolling early may not have helped his chances to become just the fourth true freshman to start a Tech season-opener in the past seven years, but doing so certainly didn’t hurt.
Johnson, a 6-foot-2, 191-pound safety, will follow quarterback Reggie Ball in 2003, wide receiver Calvin Johnson in 2004 and wide receiver Tyler Melton in 2008 as the most recent true freshmen to achieve that feat when the Yellow Jackets host S.C. State at 1 p.m. Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Several freshmen have started on special teams.
“It was a real good start,” said Johnson, who enrolled in Tech in January. “It got me comfortable with the adjustment… getting comfortable with the coaches, the players.”
Johnson said he’s most looking forward to playing in front of the crowd, and the most important lesson he keeps telling himself is “don’t get beat deep.”
Johnson’s former coach said he has earned the start.
“I’m not surprised, but I don’t want to diminish the accomplishment,” said Chip Walker, Johnson’s coach at Sandy Creek High, which won the Class AAAA state championship last year. “That’s a huge, huge accomplishment to go in and start your first college game. But I’m not really surprised because Isaiah is a good, good football player and an even better person. He’s a great athlete and a hard worker.”
Logan Walls has moved back up to No. 1 at nose tackle on the depth chart. Walls, a 6-2, 286-pound native of Dawsonville, replaces T.J. Barnes at the position. Walls missed a practice because of an undisclosed injury last week. He made 25 tackles, including two sacks, last season. … Melton was able to practice for the first time in two weeks. … Johnson said the team may try to run two different offensive lines against S.C. State.