In the final few weeks of the offseason, we’re taking a look, position group by position group, at the 2011 Georgia Tech team. Coming off of a 6-7 season, Tech’s first losing season since 1996, the Jackets have questions to answer along with hope for an improvement on both sides of the ball. Let’s take a look at the roster…
Projected starters: Stephen Hill (Jr., 6-5, 206), Tyler Melton (Sr., 6-0, 206)
Others to watch: Jeremy Moore is coming back from a season-ending knee injury sustained last summer. Daniel McKayhan is the only receiver on the roster besides Hill and Melton who has caught a pass at Tech, and he has three. Incoming freshman Corey Dennis is one of three who’ll get a good look in fall camp.
Key losses: Starter Kevin Cone and backup Correy Earls had a combined 15 catches last season, two for touchdowns.
Key fact: N.C. State, which led the ACC in completions last season, had seven players with more catches than Hill, who had a team-best 15.
Key fact II: Despite ranking last in passing offense in the ACC, Georgia Tech led the league in yards per completion at 17.0.
Key question: Who’s going to assert himself? The group did not distinguish itself last season except by its considerable number of costly drops. Hill, who has shown glimpses of his potential in his first two seasons, will need to provide some sort of stabilizing and playmaking force on the perimeter. By whatever measurement, the receivers can and should be better.
Recent developments: Chris Jackson, whom coach Paul Johnson dismissed from the team last fall, asked to return in the spring. Assuming he meets a number of conditions, Jackson, who has yet to play since transferring from Alabama in 2009, will be reinstated and could make a strong bid for playing time. It would not be at all surprising if Dennis or fellow incoming freshmen Jeff Greene and Darren Waller get into the two-deep.
Outlook: Poor. It’s probably the weakest position group on the team. The receivers have been putting in hard work over the summer, Hill in particular, and they need to do so. The chances of finding a Demaryius Thomas clone are not good, but this group has to improve from last season.
Your turn: Can the receivers make an impact this season?