As advertised, some notes from Paul Johnson (and Brian Gregory and MaChelle Joseph) from the Georgia Tech Caravan Tuesday night.
Each coach gave a lengthy overview of his or her team’s past season and what lies ahead. If you read the blog fairly regularly, you’ve heard most of what Johnson said. A few things that I don’t think I’ve heard or found interesting:
1. For summer 7-on-7 passing sessions, Tech players have organized games with players from Georgia State (knew that) and even as far as Furman (didn’t know that).
2. The team had nine scholarship seniors last year and will have 10 this year, but the classes are more balanced in terms of position and class than when Johnson arrived.
“Coach (Chan) Gailey had left some outstanding student-athletes here when he left, but the numbers were kind of skewed,” he said.
3. Incoming freshman quarterback Justin Thomas won the 100-meter dash in the Class 4A-6A state championship in Alabama. His time was 10.79 seconds.
4. Johnson on the offensive line: “I think we have the chance to have the best offensive line we’ve had since I’ve been here.”
5. Incoming running back Marcus Allen will play B-back.
6. Johnson said that defensive end Euclid Cummings may have had the best spring practice of anyone on the team. If the season were to start tomorrow, Johnson said (which technically would be Wednesday), Cummings, Izaan Cross and Emmanuel Dieke would be in a three-man rotation at end.
7. Of redshirt freshman outside linebacker Tyler Marcodes, “we think he’s got a chance to be a real special player for us.” Marcodes is 6-4, 230.
8. Of redshirt freshman inside linebacker Anthony Harrell, “We refer to him as a heat-seeking missile. He just likes to hit somebody. It’s not always the right people or the right spot, but he’s going to hit somebody on every play. If we can kind of get him pointed in the right direction, I think he’s got a bright future, as well.”
9. On playing night games at Virginia Tech: “They will call you names that I’ve never heard in 30 years of coaching. It’s a great crowd, a great atmosphere.”
10. For the Presbyterian game following the Virginia Tech game, Johnson expects to not have a practice in pads. The team will return home early Tuesday, take that day off, have a typical Monday practice on Wednesday (heavy on correction) and then one practice to prep for Presbyterian on Thursday.
11. He noted the Miami game isa “big game for us. We have not played well against them the last couple of years. They’ve kind of had our number, so that’ll be a big game for us.”
1. Gregory raved about the improvement of point guard Mfon Udofia over the course of the season, saying he had improved in one season as much as anyone in his 20-plus years of coaching.
2. Corey Heyward, a signee from Peachtree Ridge and Hargrave Military Academy, has already enrolled. Other signees, who can enroll later this summer, are already coming in from home to work out at Tech.
3. The team had the highest team GPA of any Tech men’s basketball team in the past five years.
4. Former players Zach Peacock and B.J. Elder are on track to graduate. A third, Jarrett Jack, is taking classes and is on track to graduate in 2013.
5. Gregory is hopeful about what the addition of Syracuse and Pittsburgh, as well as the resurgence of teams already in the league, will mean to ACC basketball. He noted that in the Big East, up to 10 teams have earned NCAA bids and that Connecticut won the tournament in 2011 after tying for ninth in the regular season and that Louisville reached the Final Four this year after finishing seventh.
“If you’re good enough to go through those 18 games and be picked as an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, you have the ability to make a run into the NCAA tournament,” he said.
1. Joseph, whose team made the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history, had nine of her 15 players make the dean’s list. All five of her seniors graduated.
2. Joseph was asked about replacing Sasha Goodlett, a first-round pick of the Indiana Fever. (Goodlett had five points and one rebound in 13 minutes in a preseason game against the Dream last Saturday.)
She noted that a player like Goodlett isn’t really replaced, but that the team redshirted Shayla Bivins, a 6-foot-5 junior. Bivins played minimally in the 2010 and 2011 seasons and Joseph decided to redshirt her and gave her a lot of individual instruction time, particularly on game days.
Joseph got in late in the recruitment of JeZhe Newton, a 6-foot-3 center from Arizona, and prevailed. Newton is ESPN’s No. 67 recruit and rounded out a class ranked 11th by ESPN.
“She’s ahead of Sasha when Sasha was a freshman,” Joseph said. “If she has the work ethic, heart, desire that Sasha Goodlett had, then she’ll be a better player.”
Forwards Danielle Hamilton-Carter and Tjasa Gortnar are two other solutions in the post.
3. The next step for the team is winning ACC regular-season and tournament titles, the elite eight and Final Four. Tech still needs an elite, elite player to build around, but Joseph said she feels like gaps have been filled with the incoming class.
Those players will need time to develop, she said, “but we really feel as though we have the depth and the talent on our roster starting next season to compete at a really high level in the ACC for the next couple of years.”
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog