Some notes, including coach Paul Johnson’s response to rumors/speculation about freshman quarterback Vad Lee transferring after Monday’s practice. Some other stuff first.
1. The team began a full week of practices on Monday. There will be three practices next week, two the week after that and then players will be released Dec. 20 and go to El Paso for the Sun Bowl Dec. 26. There will be 15 practices total.
2. The first stretch of bowl practices is mostly about working on fundamentals. Out of about 20 periods in Monday’s practice, only about six involved scout teams. That means that for most of the practice, all of the players, including the redshirt freshmen, were getting repetitions in Tech’s offense and defense.
3. Johnson said he doesn’t have any plans to make any changes on the staff. That would mean a second offseason in a row without any turnover. Defensive coordinator Al Groh said “for sure” he intends to be back for the 2012 season.
4. Johnson doesn’t expect any players to miss the bowl game because of grades, “but you never know,” he said. “That won’t be for a couple weeks.”
5. Johnson said he’d heard “a lot of really good things” about the Sun Bowl and is looking forward to it. Johnson went to El Paso when he was an assistant coach at Hawaii as Hawaii and UTEP were in the same conference.
“It’ll be a good game against a real good opponent,” he said. “Utah’s real good. Especially defensively, they’ve been good for awhile.”
6. Finally, Lee. At the risk of giving this more attention than I sense is worthy, I’ll provide the Q&A from the post-practice scrum with Johnson and let you draw your own conclusions.
Q: How was Vad Lee at practice today?
A: He’s fine. No problem. He worked hard. I coached the quarterbacks today. Coach (Brian) Bohannon wasn’t there today. He worked hard. All of them did.
(Bohannon was out recruiting, which is pretty typical for early bowl practices. Several questions later, the topic returned to Lee.)
Q: Is there any reason to think that he wouldn’t return?
A: Oh, I don’t know. I didn’t see anything today that made me think he was leaving. But guys could leave tomorrow. I don’t know. It happens all the time.
Q: Has he talked to you about it?
A: I talk with Vad every day.
Q: But has he talked with you about transferring?
A: I’m not going to get into what I talk with the players about. You’d be surprised sometimes. I talk to them about a lot of things.
Q: Homesickness seems to come up with players, particularly those from out of state. Do you have a particular way you address it with players?
A: It’s part of growing up. Everybody gets homesick. It’s part of it. You know what 18- and 19-year-olds are like. It’s something different every day. It is what it is. Just move on.
A couple points of note. I’m guessing it might read that Johnson was being defensive or curt, but he was at ease. I’d say he was trying to downplay the matter but obviously he didn’t say nothing is happening, perhaps to some degree because it’s not for him to say.
That said, if something were really moving forward with a possible transfer, I think Johnson would have answered questions differently. The fact that he’s practicing isn’t a guarantee of anything, but it would indicate that he’s not exactly packing up his boxes.
I’ll say this: Players considering transferring because they’re homesick is not uncommon. You may remember I wrote that David Sims went through the same thing as a redshirt freshman quarterback. I dug back into my notes and found a quote from Bohannon in August regarding the matter.
“I’m sure that goes through a lot of their minds,” he said. “When you deal with these young men who are the life of their town and their school and all of the sudden, they come to college and all of the sudden, they’re just another guy in the mix, it’s a tough adjustment.”
All this to say – I’d take all this with a grain of salt.
Thanks for reading. I’ll have something up Wednesday morning. (I’m off this week, technically.)
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog