Archive for July, 2012

Attaochu sings def. line’s praises

Georgia Tech linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu sang the praises of his defensive-line teammates who he hopes will make his work much easier this fall. He noted, for example, the work they’ve done in pass-rushing drills and to keep their weight under prescribed limits.

“The defensive line is definitely a group that’s coming together well,” he said.

Attaochu said that nose tackle T.J. Barnes has taken his offseason strength and conditioning training work very seriously and is ready to step into the starting lineup.

“Physically, he’s cut weight,” he said. “In conditioning drills, he can stand a lot more. He can be out there running with the slimmest defensive linemen. He’s looking pretty agile.”

Attaochu also liked what he has seen from incoming freshman linemen such as Francis Kallon and Pat Gamble.

“From what I’ve seen of them, they’re high-character guys who work hard,” he said.

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Tech’s Attaochu buries hatchet with Hokies’ Thomas

Greensboro, N.C.Jeremiah Attaochu got his arm around Logan Thomas Sunday. Once again, the Georgia Tech linebacker didn’t take him down to the ground.

Instead, he smiled and mugged for the camera with the Virginia Tech quarterback. Attaochu, who threw a punch out of frustration at Thomas in the Yellow Jackets’ 37-26 loss to the Hokies last season, has not just moved past the incident. The Hokies star that he’ll be chasing around in the season opener Sept. 3 in Blacksburg, Va., is now a buddy.

“We’ve talked,” Attaochu said Sunday from ACC Media Days. “He’s cool.”

Said Thomas, “He’s a funny guy. No hard feelings.”

The friendship adds a twist to the Hokies-Jackets’ rivalry, which has produced the ACC Coastal Division champion every year since the league split into two divisions in 2005. Last November, Thomas wrecked the Jackets, rifling the defense for 209 passing yards and three touchdowns on just 13 attempts and bulling his way for 70 rushing yards. He plowed through the …

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Swofford: ‘I’d be shocked’ if Miami’s Golden broke NCAA rules

GREENSBORO, N.C. – ACC commissioner John Swofford put his support behind Miami coach Al Golden, who was identified in a Yahoo report as having direct knowledge of NCAA recruiting violations.

“If Al Golden were involved in anything inappropriate in terms of NCAA rules, I would be shocked,” Swofford said Sunday following his “football forum” address at the ACC Media Days event.

The Yahoo report, released Friday, said that Golden used an equipment manager in recruiting to skirt NCAA rules within weeks of his hire in Dec. 2010. According to Yahoo, Sean Allen, who has ties to rogue booster Nevin Shapiro, made calls to prospects and drove them to and from campus, both NCAA violations. He left the school last summer. Golden denied the story.

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5 things to watch at ACC Media Days

ACC commissioner John Swofford has this going for him – he doesn’t have to update his notes about the necessity for the conference to start winning big non-conference games.

Swofford will open the league’s Media Days event Sunday in Greensboro, N.C., and the ACC’s performance against the game’s heavyweights will once again undoubtedly be a topic of conversation for him and coaches. After his comments on the matter a year ago in his “state of the conference” address, the ACC responded with a 9-16 record against other BCS conferences, including 2-5 against the SEC and 2-6 in bowl games. Perhaps Swofford should move it up a little higher in his speech.

Other topics that will undoubtedly get time Sunday and Monday:

Expansion

Is Notre Dame in the picture? What’s the timeline? What can the ACC do to increase revenue?

The ACC moved first in the most recent series of realignments, plucking Pitt and Syracuse from the Big East last September. The schools will begin ACC play in 2013. It …

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Al Groh breaks down Georgia Tech defense

From my interview with Al Groh for the “10 things” series, Groh offered a handful of observations about a few players I asked about, which I haven’t gotten to posting. Without further ado…

On T.J. Barnes: “He’s not a flamboyant player, not a flamboyant person, but he’s a very determined kid. He’s had a lot of challenges to work through in life, starting long before he got here. He’s got challenges here. He’s always fighting the weight circumstance, different issues. He’s one of those people who doesn’t say very much but is a very bright person. Was a different player in the spring, did a nice job.”

On Shawn Green: “Shawn Green, much the same way. He really hadn’t gotten much time. He came here as a freshman, not in the picture, out of shape, broke his leg, really not ready to participate or be coached in training camp last year. … He just wasn’t really ready to go. He hadn’t been able to condition and train. He missed a good deal of spring practice. So the first time he was …

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High aspirations for Tech o-line

Will Jackson’s bond with Ray Beno dates back several hundred snaps, a sweaty collage of cut blocks, scoop blocks and double teams on the left side of the Georgia Tech offensive line.

That partnership has lent both players invaluable knowledge as they prepare for the upcoming season.

“If I’m doing a combo block with Ray, I know how he’s going to handle it, how long he’s going to stay on the block, just little things like that,” Jackson said. “You know how he’s going to be playing, so it helps out a lot.”

Tech’s line has amassed a pool of such bits of data. Guards Omoregie Uzzi and Jackson head into their third year as starters. Center Jay Finch and Beno, an offensive tackle, both started 11 games last season.  Offensive tackle Tyler Kidney made six starts. That collected experience, awareness of both self and the neighboring lineman, should prove an invaluable asset for the Yellow Jackets and their ACC title aspirations.

“I want us to dominate every single play,” said Uzzi, a …

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Tech’s Farmer, Thomas coming back for senior seasons

Friday the 13th proved fortuitous for Georgia Tech’s baseball team. Yellow Jackets pitcher Buck Farmer and outfielder Brandon Thomas, both widely expected earlier in the year to forgo their senior seasons and sign professionally, spurned contract offers and will return to campus.

Friday 5 p.m. was the deadline for players taken in the June Major League Baseball draft to sign. Due in part to new rules governing the size of signing bonuses that can be given to draftees, it passed without signatures from Farmer and Thomas.

Shortly after the deadline, Thomas sent out a tweet reading “very excited to be coming back to GT for my senior year.”

Their decisions give a considerable boost to coach Danny Hall’s 2013 team. Both were All-ACC selections. Thomas was taken by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the fourth round of the June draft and Farmer was selected in the 15th by the Milwaukee Brewers. Hall also will welcome Matt Gonzalez, an incoming freshman shortstop from Harrison High who was …

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It’s been a pretty good summer for Georgia Tech track and field. Graduates Angelo Taylor and Chaunte Lowe qualified for the Olympics in the 400-meter hurdles and the high jump, respectively, and have excellent chances at medals in London.

Rising sophomore pole vaulter Nikita Kirillov won the U.S. junior national championships with a school and meet record performance in June. Thursday, at the world junior meet in Barcelona, he finished eighth.

In August, three Tech greats will be honored by the second induction class of the Georgia Track and Field Hall of Fame – Antonio McKay Sr., Douglas “Buddy” Fowlkes and Ed Hamm. McKay won gold in the 1988 Olympics in the 4×400-meter relay, Fowlkes was Tech’s head coach from 1965 to 1992 after a standout career as a student-athlete and Hamm was Tech’s first gold medalist, in the high jump at the 1928 Olympics.

The induction ceremony will be Aug. 25 at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta.

Bios provided by USA Track and Field-Georgia.

Douglas “Buddy” …

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More praise for Tech strength coach Sisk

Perhaps the most distinct impression left from interviews Thursday with Georgia Tech offensive linemen Ray Beno, Will Jackson and Omoregie Uzzi is their enthusiasm over new strength and conditioning coach John Sisk. All spoke highly of him and how he has energized and helped focus the team in preparation for the season.

I suppose, even if they weren’t actually enthusiastic, they’d find a way to be complimentary. But the fact that they  touched on some of the same points and seemed pretty genuine suggests otherwise. The proof will be in the pudding, of course, but it seems that coach Paul Johnson has found a good one. (Link to a story I wrote and an ensuing blog about Sisk)

“I’m enjoying it a lot more,” Beno said. “I’m definitely seeing the gains of my work and I’m sure everyone else is, too. Everybody’s just enjoying Coach Sisk tremendously.”

Said Jackson, “It’s not just lifting weights for the sake of lifting weights. He’s always reminding us, ‘We’re lifting for 9/3 against …

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Updated: Tech’s Uzzi cleared to play, named to Outland watch list

It did not register as a great surprise, but Georgia Tech guard Omoregie Uzzi ended any lingering suspense Thursday by acknowledging he has been cleared to play in the upcoming season.

Uzzi did not play in the Sun Bowl and then sat out of spring practice with what he called “nagging injuries.”

“I’ve been running with the team, just excited to be back,” said Uzzi, looking a fit 307 pounds. “I’m ready to play.”

Also on Thursday, Uzzi was named to the watch list for the Outland Trophy, awarded to the nation’s outstanding interior lineman, offense or defense. Uzzi, a two-time All-ACC selection, was one of 71 players and 20 guards named to the list. Uzzi’s nomination follows center Jay Finch being named to the watch list for the Rimington Trophy, given to the top center in the country.

“I really appreciate the attention and support that people give me for [awards],” he said, “but I’m a guy that tries to take things step by step, little by little, one drill at a time, one play at a …

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