Barkley reportedly unlikely to play

Georgia Tech may not have to face USC quarterback Matt Barkley in the Sun Bowl. A Los Angeles Times article observed that “will almost certainly refrain from playing and risking further injury to his right shoulder.”

Barkley, a possible first-round pick in the April NFL draft, injured his throwing shoulder against UCLA Nov. 17 and did not play the following week against Notre Dame. He has yet to take part in bowl practices. He has been expected to join practices with the team when it arrives in El Paso, Texas, on Dec. 26.

The Times story was the strongest indication that Barkley will not play. He and backup Max Wittek, who started against Notre Dame, are listed as co-starters. Wittek was 14-for-23 for 186 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

Wittek told the L.A. Times, “I’m prepared to lead this team.”

Tech interim defensive coordinator Charles Kelly said he would not approach Wittek any differently than Barkley.

“If he’s the backup quarterback or listed as the …

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In audition, Kelly addresses Tech defense flaws

On the morning of Oct. 8, Paul Johnson came to a conclusion – Georgia Tech’s defense wasn’t very good, and it showed no signs of improvement. The Georgia Tech coach fired defensive coordinator Al Groh and called on secondary coach Charles Kelly to serve as the interim coordinator for the remainder of the season.

In seven games, Kelly hasn’t worked miracles. At the least, he has begun the clean-up job for the mess that the Tech defense had become.

“I think it’s gotten better at times,” said Johnson, not a man given to undue praise. “For sure, it’s better than it was.”

Kelly has one game remaining as interim coordinator, against USC in the Sun Bowl Dec. 31. To make one last impression on his employer, all he’ll have to do is contain the nation’s best wide receiver, USC’s Marqise Lee, and an offense dotted with NFL-bound stars.

“It’s a big challenge,” Kelly said of facing the Trojans. “But you know what? That’s why you play the game.”

The …

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Familiar name at the Citadel, Tech’s next opponent

An excellent piece from my colleague Carroll Rogers on the coach of Georgia Tech’s opponent, the son of an ACC legend

Chuck Driesell comes from good recruiting stock. His father Lefty, the legendary college basketball coach at Davidson, Maryland, James Madison and Georgia State, was a recruiting wizard, attracting the kind of talent to take four programs to the NCAA tournament, three of them from relative obscurity.

Stories have been passed down over the years about Lefty sleeping on a mattress in the back of his station wagon while recruiting for Davidson on a $500 budget. And he still was able to turn the small liberal arts school into a national power in the 1960s.

The running joke is you can’t Driesell without “S-E-L-L.”

Even with that pedigree, Chuck Driesell has taken on a tall task. He is three years into his first head college coaching job at The Citadel, the military school in Charleston, S.C., with demanding requirements, tough academics and 53 losing seasons …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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