Archive for December, 2012

Tech legend Larry Morris dies

(Updated with print version)

As he remembered it, Frank Broyles’ first day of work as a Georgia Tech assistant football coach in 1951 was also the same day that Larry Morris first practiced with the Yellow Jackets. They were two Decatur Boys High grads trying to impress coach Bobby Dodd.

Said Broyles, later head coach and athletic director at Arkansas and a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, “He immediately showed that he could play college ball just as he could high school.”

Over the next four seasons, Morris only surpassed that first impression. Morris died Wednesday at the age of 79, his place as an all-time great in Tech history firmly in place.

“As a player and as a human being, he was one of the best,” said Pepper Rodgers, a teammate and later a Tech coach.

The Morris playing résumé paints a broad picture of his dominance. A four-year starter and a two-way player at center and linebacker, Morris was three times first-team All-SEC and a team captain as a senior. …

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Notes: Successful career for Tech long snapper

1. Georgia Tech long snapper Tyler Morgan’s first interaction with coach Paul Johnson was memorable. When Morgan, who grew up in a family of Georgia fans, found out that Johnson was going to make a recruiting visit that evening, he had to call his parents to tell them to hide all of the Bulldogs paraphernalia around the house.

The rest of his career has progressed more smoothly. Morgan came to Tech from Fayetteville as a walk-on in 2009, earned a spot in the lineup that season, won a scholarship and has played ever since.

“He’s done a great job,” Johnson said. “I think he’s had a very successful career.”

After snapping for punts as a freshman and sophomore, he’s been the snapper for punts, field goals and extra points for his final two seasons, winning his job back this year after suffering a season-ending injury midway through the 2011 season. This season, in special-teams coordinator David Walkosky’s protection scheme, he’s had to block after snapping rather than running …

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Orwin Smith tries for strong finish

Orwin Smith will leave Georgia Tech with at least one keepsake.

“I think we can actually buy the helmets, so I plan on taking that,” he said. “And even if I can’t buy it, I’m going to plan on taking it.”

Smith, Tech’s illustrious A-back, chuckled. The reality is, whatever he does with his helmet, he’ll leave the Yellow Jackets with far more than that. Smith, whose Tech career will conclude Dec. 31 against USC in the Sun Bowl, will take with him a reputation as one of the most explosive players in school history, one who approached the game with a professional mindset.

“When he came in here, he was a really quiet guy and I think as he’s played more, he’s blossomed into more of a personality guy,” coach Paul Johnson said. “But he’s had a really good career here. A lot of good games and a lot of big plays.”

The numbers are hard to dispute, starting with a 9.4 yards-per-carry career average, the highest in ACC history for any player with at least 1,000 yards. He became the first …

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35 football players make dean’s list

The Georgia Tech football team place 35 players on the dean’s list for the fall term, including 23 scholarship players.

Seniors (academically)
Marty Alcala
Ray Beno
Will Jackson
Tyler Kidney
Tyler Morgan
David Scully

Trey Braun
Coray Carlson
Deon Hill
Jerredith Jiles
Isaiah Johnson
Sam McNearney
Quayshawn Nealy

Tim Byerly
Andrew Chau
Anthony Harrell

Blake Hembree (4.0)

Will Smith (4.0)
Sean Tobin
Nick Menocal

Marcus Allen
Zach Allen
Roderick Chungong
Pat Gamble
Adam Gotsis
Nick Cuthbert
Beau Hankins
Francis Kallon
Stephen Murphey

Chase Roberts (4.0)
Ryan Rodwell
Kyle Stallard
Tyler Stargel
Aaron Solender
D.J. White

By my count, offensive line, defensive backs, linebackers and specialists all had six players each. (This is probably unfair to the position groups with fewer players, although there’s probably fewer specialists on the team than any other position group.)

Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog

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Tech notes: Milton likely replacement for I. Johnson

1. Georgia Tech defensive back Chris Milton has made his mark this season with excellent special-teams play. He’ll likely have an opportunity to close out 2012 by starting at safety in the Sun Bowl.

Milton, a redshirt freshman, is the probable candidate to replace the injured Isaiah Johnson, who will not play against USC in El Paso, Texas, Dec. 31.

“He’s earned it,” interim defensive coordinator Charles Kelly said. “He’s worked his rear end off.”

Milton, who played at Folkston’s Charlton County High, has taken most of the practice snaps with the first-string defense this week since Johnson’s injury, which coach Paul Johnson described Wednesday as “lower extremity” and “a major injury.” Jamal Golden and Demond Smith have also taken turns with the first unit.

“It’s kind of bad for Isaiah, what happened, but I’m just trying to help my team,” Milton said.

Milton’s special-teams play earned him limited time with the defense toward the end of the regular season, but he played mostly …

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Dan Radakovich Q&A

In October, just days before one of the signature accomplishments of his tenure was to open, Dan Radakovich left his position as Georgia Tech athletic director for the same position and new challenge at Clemson. It was a position he had sought out, attracted to the school from his first visit to a Tigers football game in 1990.

Friday, the day before his son Christian graduated from Tech in McCamish Pavilion, the basketball arena whose construction he led, Radakovich spoke with the AJC about his old job, his new one and the intersection of both. Questions and answers were edited for brevity and clarity.

Q: How has the job been so far?

A: It’s a new and interesting challenge – learning a lot, listening a lot and just trying to soak in a lot of the nuances and culture of Clemson athletics.

Q: What are some things you hear a lot of that you want to address?

A: I don’t think we’ve reached those conclusions yet. There are some opportunities to continue to outreach, not only with the …

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Tech notes: USC defense loaded

1. It was no season of triumph for the USC defense. The Trojans, picked No. 1 overall to start the season, completed the regular season ranked 45th in scoring defense and 63rd in total defense.

Regardless, Georgia Tech, which plays USC in the Sun Bowl Dec. 31, sees a defense teeming with talent. Safety T.J. McDonald and outside linebacker Hayes Pullard in particular caught the attention of quarterbacks and B-backs coach Brian Bohannon, who said the two “have stood out as awfully talented players.”

McDonald is “big and he plays all over the field,” quarterback Vad Lee said. “That’s somebody we’ll definitely have to look for.”

McDonald, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound senior, was an All-America as a junior and will likely be one of the top players at his position in the NFL draft. McDonald was one of nine USC defensive players receiving All-Pac-12 first-team, second-team or honorable mention recognition. Pullard, a freshman All-America last season, was named All-Pac-12 honorable mention. …

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Four points from Tech-Alabama State

Solomon Poole showing his quickness Monday night. CURTIS COMPTON/AJC

Solomon Poole showing his quickness Monday night. CURTIS COMPTON/AJC

Thoughts and observations from Monday night’s game at McCamish Pavilion, a 75-41 win for Georgia Tech over Alabama. Game story here.

1. Monday was a take-care-of-business game, and Georgia Tech checked the box. Tough defense and much better rebounding opened up a lot of the offense for Tech. The Jackets scored 27 of their 75 points off the break.

“Usually we let teams like that back in the game, stick around,” said center Daniel Miller, who had five blocks. “We just came out and kept playing hard.”

I think you can only read so much into it, because Alabama State is just not a very good team. Out of 345 Division I teams, the Hornets are 329th in turnover margin, 323rd in rebound margin and 340th in scoring margin. The roster has 10 new players, and gave up considerable size to Tech. As I said, Tech did what it had to and moves forward.

Said Alabama State coach Lewis Jackson, “We knew it was going to be a tall …

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Tech notes: Waller’s confidence growing

(Notes for Tuesday’s paper. I realize some of the Darren Waller material has already been posted.)

1. Georgia Tech wide receiver Darren Waller has caught only eight passes this season. The past two may be indicative of where he’s headed.

Waller caught two passes in the ACC Championship game loss to Florida State, the second one a crucial 17-yard reception on a 3rd-and-14 from the Tech 11-yard line on the Yellow Jackets’ final possession. Tech was driving for a go-ahead touchdown, but the drive ended with an interception.

Waller said he gained confidence from the two receptions as well as the trust that quarterback Tevin Washington showed by throwing to him with the game on the line.

“Knowing ‘Tev’ can trust me, that’s a great feeling,” Waller said. “Coming a long way, not even starting at the beginning of the year, just trying to fight for opportunities.”

Waller, a 6-foot-5, 228-pound sophomore, played on special teams last year as a true freshman. He has started nine games …

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UPDATED: Jackets dump Alabama State

Georgia Tech forward Kammeon Holsey scored 11 points to go with five rebounds in the Jackets' win. CURTIS COMPTON/AJC

Georgia Tech forward Kammeon Holsey scored 11 points to go with five rebounds in the Jackets' win. CURTIS COMPTON/AJC

UPDATED, 10:32 p.m. There was little in the way of either drama or mercy Monday night.

Georgia Tech treated Alabama State the way an ACC team ought to handle an opponent from the Southwestern Athletic Conference, dispensing a 75-41 thrashing of the Hornets at McCamish Pavilion.

The game grew loose at times, but the Yellow Jackets exploited their advantages in size, athleticism and cohesion for most of the 40 minutes.

“We wanted to play our game the whole game and take them out early,” forward Robert Carter said.

In their first game after completing final exams, the Jackets clubbed the Hornets with a 19-2 run midway through the first half that provided a 20-point lead. Tech was never threatened thereafter. The performance drew in comparison to Tech’s last game, in which the Jackets permitted an inferior UNC-Wilmington team to nearly steal a win out of McCamish …

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