Hope this finds you getting geared up for Thursday evening. I don’t know how much we’ll learn, given that I don’t think Western Carolina will offer much of a challenge to Georgia Tech, but we’ll see.
I was going to write a story for Tuesday’s paper about the five players who made the biggest splash in the preseason or something to that effect. I have six right now that I’ll go over briefly.
Before I get there, if you haven’t read Steve Hummer’s profile of A-back Tony Zenon, you should do that right now. It will be far better reading than anything on this blog.
Second, my colleague Doug Roberson wrote a story about the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game that included a little detail about Georgia Tech I found interesting. Doug wrote that athletic director Dan Radakovich said he would like to play in the game as soon as possible. I know Radakovich has been interested in playing the game in the past (I wrote over the summer that Tech nearly was lined up to play USC in 2013), but that is stronger language than I’ve read or heard previously.
A 2013 game is still open, to the best of my knowledge, but when I asked Paul Johnson about it in June, he wasn’t overly enthused about it.
On to the Georgia Tech big-splash-in-camp-making-type-guys.
Trey Braun – A true freshman guard, Braun appears to have won a spot in the Phil Smith-bereft starting lineup. Part of his ascension is due to a lack of depth and an injury to J.C. Lanier, but coaches like what they’ve seen from Braun, who has clearly benefited from enrolling in January. (Lanier, by the way, has been ruled out for Thursday’s game, as has defensive lineman Shawn Green. Lanier has been out with a stress fracture, and coach Paul Johnson said he’d be out for about four weeks on Aug. 6. This Saturday will be four weeks.)
Izaan Cross – The defensive end stood out in the second scrimmage in particular and looks like a player to watch this season. Johnson has liked what he’s seen from Cross in the preseason and the starting defensive line in general.
Jeff Greene – The true freshman wide receiver took advantage of injuries to other wide receivers to move up the depth chart into a possible starting role. He would bump, rather ironically, Tyler Melton, the last true freshman to start in a season-opening game for Tech. He has size and has shown good hands and jumping ability. He has a lot to learn still, but he’s on his way to being a productive player for Tech.
Vad Lee – The true freshman quarterback caused Johnson and quarterbacks coach Brian Bohannon to swoon with his desire and capacity to learn the offense and his passing ability. He’s got a long way to go, but he has passed his first test of college football, surviving the rigors of his first camp, easily.
David Sims – The most obvious choice. He came into camp No. 4 on the depth chart at B-back and as of last week he had the inside track to start on Thursday. The new depth chart will be released Monday. (Check back for it) He’s been among the hardest-working players in camp and has good functional strength for the tough-running demands of the position.
Brandon Watts – The outside linebacker may see the field a good bit this year and may end up starting in place of Steven Sylvester before the season is over. Watts has the physical tools and caught Johnson’s attention with his playmaking in the preseason. If and when he puts everything together, he’ll be a dangerous player.
I had this leftover from the linebackers story I wrote last week.
It’s a quote from Sylvester about Julian Burnett and Jeremiah Attaochu.
“Julian came in the year after me. He’s always been a fierce competitor, always been one of those guys to go after the ball. Just to see him grow as a linebacker, as a football player, has been kind of fun for me, just to know how smart he is. And Jeremiah’s motor is unbelievable. We could be out there for 20 plays and everyone else will be gassed, and Jeremiah will sprint across the field and make a tackle. Just to see the way he goes, his determination to get to the ball is second to none.”
Mark Bradley predicts an 8-4 season for the Jackets.
By Ken Sugiura, AJC