1. Georgia Tech’s opponent in the Sun Bowl may be finishing a down season, but USC has caught the Yellow Jackets’ full attention regardless.
Wide receiver Darren Waller said he was pumped up when he learned that Tech would be facing the Trojans, who began the year ranked No. 1 before going 7-5, in El Paso, Texas.
“Just when I was growing up, USC was, like, the program in the country,” he said before naming a string of Trojans stars past and present. “Getting a chance to play Georgia, FSU and USC in three (consecutive games), that’s pretty much why I came here, for opportunities like that.”
Outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu had a similar reaction. He said he grew up watching the Trojans, admiring their standard of excellence.
“I was excited,” he said. “I mean, it’s a great opportunity, a program with so much history like ours. It’s just great to play against that type of competition.”
2. Safety Jemea Thomas declined to answer a question about whether he will submit his name to the NFL draft advisory board for an evaluation of his draft status. Thomas, a junior, has had a standout season playing both corner and safety for the Jackets, recording a team-high four interceptions and making 82 tackles, second most on the team.
The board, comprised of NFL scouts and executives, offers players with remaining eligibility on where they might get selected if they declared for the draft. Submitting one’s name does not bind a player to enter the draft. Attaochu said last week that he would seek an evaluation.
Thomas’ most recent play was a head-turner, a diving one-handed interception of Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel near the end of the ACC Championship game. The reason it was a one-hander?
Thomas’ right shoulder was so banged up that he couldn’t move his right arm. After seeing the replay, Thomas said it was “kind of hard to believe how I caught it.”
3. Center Jay Finch practiced Thursday and Friday after missing the end of the ACC Championship game, as did A-back Orwin Smith, who missed the Georgia and ACC title games with an ankle injury. Finch pronounced himself “A-O.K. 100 percent” but declined to specify the nature of the injury.
Said Smith of his absence from the title game, “I felt like I wouldn’t be able to make the plays that I was capable of, so they just held me out.”
Offensive tackle Ray Beno underwent surgery this week to repair a finger broken in the Georgia game. Beno played in the title game and said he expects to play in the bowl game.
4. Tech practiced Thursday and Friday and will continue Saturday. The team will be off for most of final-exam week (next Monday through Friday) and practice Thursday through Saturday again. The on-campus portion of bowl practice will continue Dec. 17-21 before players will be released until they reconvene in El Paso. … As with the media All-ACC team, guard Omoregie Uzzi was the only Tech player to make the first-ever coaches All-ACC team. He was a first-team selection. Return specialist Jamal Golden, nose tackle T.J. Barnes, Attaochu, Finch and Smith were all honorable mention. Quarterback Vad Lee received one vote for offensive rookie of the year.
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog