Busy day. More on Monday.
When Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson spoke at a media day news conference Saturday, the topic of depth came up repeatedly. Specifically, the Yellow Jackets have it.
“I think this is the most depth we’ve had since we’ve been here, if you can just go position by position,” Johnson said.
The offensive line is probably the deepest position group on the team, with seven players bringing back a total of 82 career starts. The group has four full-time starters from 2011 – guards Omoregie Uzzi and Will Jackson, tackle Ray Beno and center Jay Finch – back, plus part-time starter Tyler Kidney.
“We’ve got four or five guards that we could play and same thing at tackle,” Johnson said.
Defensive line and A-back are two other spots where the Jackets are the deepest, particularly with ends Chris Crenshaw, Izaan Cross, Euclid Cummings and Emmanuel Dieke returning with considerable experience.
“There’s going to be plays when we literally can’t give our all because we’re going to be exhausted, so we have somebody who’s fresh who can come in and who can play just as productive,” Cross said.
2. Tech’s seniors plan to take turns wearing former teammate Julian Burnett’s No. 40 in games this season. The team’s six senior starters – quarterback Tevin Washington, A-back Orwin Smith, Uzzi, Cross, nose tackle T.J. Barnes and cornerback Rod Sweeting – will likely get first crack. Washington said he hoped to have a chance to wear it.
“To be able to try to emulate him, that’s a challenge,” Washington said. “That just means you’ve got to be able to play with unbelievable effort.”
Said Smith, “I would definitely wear it in a game.”
Washington said team members asked Burnett, whose career is likely over after a neck injury suffered in the Sun Bowl, if they could wear his jersey number.
“He just said he would love to let us wear his number,” Washington said. “He said he would be honored.”
3. Defensive lineman Adam Gotsis, an incoming freshman from Australia, is adjusting well. Johnson said that coaches have been encouraged by the speed and athletic ability that Gotsis has demonstrated in the first two practices. While he has been fitting in with the team socially, Gotsis did have questions about the Philly cheesesteaks provided at a team meal.
“He’d never seen one before,” Johnson said. “He wanted to know what it was.”
Cross, who lockers next to Gotsis, said Gotsis told him the biggest difference thus far between the college game and his football in Australia, where he played for a club team, was the speed.
Said Cross, “He’s solid, he’s a big kid, shows flashes that he can be pretty good.”
4. The team took the field for its second practice of fall camp Saturday morning, again in helmets, jerseys and shorts. The Jackets will practice again Sunday afternoon, this time in shoulder pads. Their first fully padded practice will be Tuesday.
“Everybody’s excited, people are focused in meetings, more focused than I’ve ever seen,” outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu said.
B-back David Sims and guard Trey Braun, who wore gold jerseys Friday signifying injured status, returned Saturday. Offensive lineman Thomas O’Reilly continued in gold. Johnson said that linebacker Jabari Hunt-Days “sat out partly” with what a “tweak.” He should return Sunday, Johnson said.
5. Tech held its fan day Saturday afternoon. The event yielded a considerable turnout, particularly considering the threatening weather. As usual, the lines for the quarterbacks and Johnson were the longest. Washington the strangest autograph request he received last year was from a young girl who wanted players to sign her back.