Q: Who’s the best player on the team?
A: I don’t know. Be hard to say. I have the coaches rate ‘em. You’d be surprised who they thought. What is it, nine coaches? There’s a lot of different opinions.
Q: Is it by position, or overall?
A: I have ‘em rate ‘em all. Rate the offense and the defense. I let the defensive coaches rate the offense. They do ‘em both. It’s always interesting to see everybody’s take, who they think are good. (A player that) some guys might have had as 1, the other guy has as 12. It’s like with a girl – beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I guess.
Q: You rank them 1 through 85?
A: You can have anybody you want. Take the offense, rank ‘em 1 through, whatever, 30. Guys who play. Take the defense, rank ‘em 1-30.
Q: Is that a common practice?
A: Probably a lot of people do that. I’ve done that for a long time. It’s just interesting to me to see. Then you can get the comprehensive averages and you just kind of see. Because you develop relationships with those guys as your position coach that sometimes somebody from afar looks at them differently.
So, one thing about being a head coach that I really miss and that you see and you try not to override the assistant coaches unless it’s really obvious to you that somebody’s better, but from a distance, I miss the close relationships you have when you’re at a position because you can’t have that relationship with 120 guys.
But I can also stand and watch practice and I don’t meet with them every day, so I may have an opinion on who’s the better player unbiased. The personal feelings don’t come into it. And for the most part, you try to let the assistant coaches, you go with what they think unless you just see a guy and you think, ‘This guy needs to play.’ Then you go, ‘Why is he not playing?’ and he needs to play. But that doesn’t happen very often.
Q: Can you tell me anything about the list?
A: (Shaking his head). I don’t want the kids to know.
Q: Has that ever helped you make decisions about playing time?
A: It’s just there. it’s just interesting to see what their perception is. Alot of times, it’s a lot different because the offensive coaches will have different offensive kids ranked first as opposed to what the defensive coaches will have. Inevitably, what happens is sometimes guys are scout-team All-Americans where they’re on the scout team and they run off a card and they don’t have to think.
Nothing happens if they do it wrong or they drop a ball and all of the sudden they become really good. Now you get in the (offensive) system and you’re not as good. Same thing on defense. If I line up over there and I’m the free safety running the alley and I don’t care if they throw it over my head (because) I’m on the scout team, well, I can blow people up on the line of scrimmage like crazy.
So if I’m the offensive line coach, I’m thinking, Man, that guy’s really good. But in essence, when he gets in a real game and he has to worry about not getting it thrown over his head, he’s not nearly as fast coming up there. So it’s just a process there. It’s nothing more. We don’t go off of that. I don’t go off of that.
Q: How does the competition at safety look? I know Fred Holton is coming back from his Achilles injury.
A: Fred’ll be back and we’re excited about him. We may have to move some guys around. There were some freshmen that were redshirted. The goal is to get the best players on the field. If Rod Sweeting, Louis Young and Jemea Thomas are the best players, common sense would tell you one of them might need to be the other safety.
If you’re going to play with five (defensive backs), then maybe it’s Fred, maybe Fred’s better than them at safety. Maybe it’s whoever, some of those freshmen – Domonique Nobles, Jamal Golden, Corey Dennis, there’s a lot of those guys. Chris Milton. I think we’ve got some pretty good athletes back there. That’s what spring football’s for. Somebody’s going to come out of the blue. They always do.
Q: Chris is at safety?
A: Chris is at corner, safety but they’re interchangeable. Corey Dennis is back there. I’ve already moved Zach Laskey. He’s going back to running back.
Q: What about wide receiver?
A: I think we’ve got some good players. We’ll see what they do. We’ve got some talented freshmen. It’s Chris Jackson’s turn to step up. We’ll see if he will. Jeremy Moore has been hurt, hasn’t played. Now he’s got a chance. You couple that with the freshmen, I’m not worried about that. I think we’ll be fine.
Q: What about B-back. I imagine you’re hoping Charles Perkins pushes David Sims.
A: We’ve got three or four guys. You’ve got David Sims, you’ve got Charles, you’ve got Zach Laskey. Broderick Snoddy could play there, maybe. He might. Who knows? That’s what he played in high school. So there’ll be competition there.
Q: And inside linebacker?
A: We’ve got a bunch of guys. Julian didn’t play the last three quarters of the bowl game. You’ve got (Daniel) Drummond, Quayshawn (Nealy), Jabari (Hunt-Days), who redshirted, Anthony Harrell, Tremayne McNair. Those outside (linebacker) guys can go in there (also). We’ve got more depth than we’ve ever had. We’ve about got the numbers to where you want them, per position.
Q: I’ve heard good things about Jabari.
A: He’s a test freak. He needs to take it to the field. He’s an imposing-looking, good-looking (player). We’ve never had guys who look like him play. He’s 240 pounds, can run, 6-2, 6-3. I mean, he’s an imposing guy. How quickly can he take it to the field?
Q: Could Izaan Cross play at nose tackle?
A: He could. There again, you want to get your best players on the field, so we’ll see how it unfolds. There’s a bunch of those guys on scholarship. ‘Too Tall’ (Emmanuel Dieke) has played a lot, Euclid (Cumming) has played a lot, T.J. (Barnes) has played a lot. We need to get something out of Shawn Green. Anthony Williams. All those guys have played. Chris Crenshaw’s played. Jimmie Kitchens will be back out here in the fall. We’ve got four coming in.
Q: Could any of the incoming freshmen play?
A: We’ll see. If they end up being one of the six best (they will).
Q: Is it easier for a true freshman to come in play as an end or a tackle?
A: I don’t think it matters.
Q: I’ve seen Pat Gamble listed as both a nose tackle and defensive end.
A: He’s a defensive end.
Q: With Shawn Green, does he just need to get better?
A: He needs to get in shape. Once he gets in shape, he got hurt, broke his leg and that hurt. I don’t know that he’s ever been in shape to play. We’ve got to do a better job. He’s got to do a better job.
Q: With T.J. Barnes, it looks like a matter of consistency.
A: He’s to the point where this is his chance. Do you want to be a 15-play a game guy or do you want to play? We’ll see how hard he works in the spring and summer.
Q: If you look at him, it looks like he has what you’d want at that position.
A: He’s a big kid, but Shawn Green, he might have been the best defensive lineman in the state coming out. Anthony Williams was a heck of a player in high school, heavily-recruited kid.
Thanks for reading. The sixth segment will be posted Thursday morning.
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog