There will be a few personnel changes on the field for the Yellow Jacket fans to be watching, especially in the first game of the season. No offense to Jacksonville State, but Georgia Tech should take care of business early in the game allowing the whole two-deep on the depth chart plus more to get some quality playing time. Now that it is year number two in the Paul Johnson era, there are many players that have been recruited by the new coaching staff that will see playing time on Saturday for the first time in their Yellow Jacket careers. Here is a list of the players that Tech fans should be on the lookout for.
#13 QB Tevin Washington Fr.-R
With one year in the system under his belt, Washington will be thrown into the fire more often and earlier than expected this season. Jaybo Shaw broke his collarbone a couple weeks ago and Washington is now the number-two man under center. It will certainly be interesting to see how he has developed and will develop.
#46 BB Preston Lyons So.-R
The transfer from Colgate sat out last season, and then had a good spring and a strong showing during fall camp. Georgia Tech’s coaches are very pleased with Lyons backing up Dwyer and plan to use him in the offense to give #21 a rest every now and then. Lyons doesn’t blow you away at first glance with his athleticism but runs hard and has proven to know what he’s doing.
#17 AB Orwin Smith Fr.
Fans who’ve already heard about Smith’s progress during fall camp are excited about his potential. With a crowded backfield at the A-back position, Smith has proven himself worthy of being a part of the six-man rotation for the two positions. He will not redshirt. He has the speed to get down the sideline and the strength to hit defenders in stride. His 6-0, 205 lb frame is certainly impressive for a freshman back. Orwin is currently starting at kick returner as well alongside another strong, new addition at a-back in Anthony Allen.
#18 AB Anthony Allen Jr.-R
Allen transferred from Louisville and sat out last season. He has already proven himself at the Division 1 level as a running back. His freshman season, he had 13 touchdowns on only 96 carries. During his two seasons at Louisville, he rushed for over 1,000 yards and 20 touchdowns. Allen is big enough to play b-back, however is quite the athlete and will start at a-back. He will start at kick returner and is expected to have a big impact on the Yellow Jackets’ season.
#5 WR Stephen Hill Fr.
Many fans are excited at seeing Hill play. He was a highly rated recruit and at 6-4, 196 lb, he can leap, catch, run, and do all things well that anyone would hope for in a college wideout. The most important thing for Hill to pick up on during his freshman season will be his assignments and blocking. If he does quickly, don’t be surprised to see him starting alongside Demaryius Thomas sometime soon.
#23 WR Quentin Sims Fr.-R
Sims redshirted last year and is on the two-deep right now with Tyler Melton out with an injury. Sims has shown clear potential but is still only a redshirt freshman. With Jaybo Shaw out at quarterback, Sims (who ran the triple-option in HS) has been taking reps at quarterback and is number three at that position on the depth chart. We could very well see him line up at two different positions on Saturday.
#61 OT Phil Smith Fr.-R
Phil redshirted last season after being recruited by many schools as a tight end prospect. His athleticism was something Coach Johnson's staff was looking for in an offensive lineman and they were able to get him to Tech. With a year under his belt of learning his assignments, Smith has already broken into the rotation on the offensive line.
# 62 OG Omoregie Uzzi Fr.-R
Uzzi was the highest rated recruit in his class and he has been battling Joseph Gilbert for a starting spot during fall camp. It seems Gilbert will hold on to his spot, but Uzzi will definitely see plenty of playing time this fall.
#82 WR Kevin Cone So.-R
Kevin walked on last year after transferring from Shorter College. He impressed early, but had to sit out last season. After a year in the system, Cone has worked hard while moving up the depth chart. He will be starting on Saturday for the Jackets. Kevin is not a small receiver and is a potential play-maker. "He's an athletic guys," says his position coach Buzz Preston, "He’s got quickness, good speed, and good hands. He’s a great competitor and has great energy."
#94 DE Izaan Cross Fr.
This true freshman could pass for a junior or senior. He looks older and will play end at 272 lb this season. Cross really impressed the coaches and moved up the depth chart this fall, making the two-deep.
#90 DT T.J. Barnes Fr.-R
Anybody who knows who T.J. is cannot wait to see him hit the field. Barnes is a monster at 6-7, 340 lb. The coaches say he has improved a lot during fall camp and will definitely be seeing the field. Barnes may not be starting, but very well could be soon if he continues to improve his fatigue and work ethic. T.J. was a nuisance for the GT offense last season when he played on the scout team.
#40 MLB Julian Burnett Fr.
He wasn’t as highly sought after by the big-name schools, but anybody who watched him play in high school said he could play at the high D-1 level. Burnett’s new coaches seem to agree, as Julian is the number-two middle linebacker right now behind Brad Jefferson. Now, Kyle Jackson is currently injured but it seems that Burnett wouldn’t be redshirting anyways. Coach Paul Johnson said that this kid might be the toughest of the entire defense for the offense to block.
#6 CB Rod Sweeting Fr.
Sweeting is listed as third string, but adds to the great depth of the Georgia Tech defensive backfield. He will not redshirt and should see a lot of time on special teams. Sweeting has the talent to make his way up the depth chart in the near future. Not redshirting means quite a bit playing under Paul Johnson, who won’t redshirt someone only if he thinks they’ll make an impact on the game outside of just special teams.
#37 CB Jerrard Tarrant So.-R
Another player GT fans have been waiting a long time to see. Tarrant is ready to make an impact and has had just as long to wait for this opportunity. He is slated to start at cornerback and punt returner. Rumor has it that Jerrard will impact the punt return game in a way that Tech fans haven’t seen since Jonathan Smith.
#38 ROV Jemea Thomas Fr.
The coaching staff was very excited to sign this true freshman. They said he reminded them of a certain #1 at the rover position. The staff toyed around with the idea of Jemea playing on offense when he came in, but it seems the hard hitting and instincts for the ball were qualities they couldn’t pass up. It must have been the right decision, too. Thomas is on the two-deep, backing up Morgan Burnett.
Other “Fresh Faces” to look for on Saturday:
#4 S Brandon Leslie Fr.-R
#32 RB Richard Watson
#42 LB Malcom Munroe Fr.-R
#58 LB B.J. Machen
#76 OG Nick McRae Fr-R
#80 WR Daniel McKayhan Fr-R
#88 DE Antonio Wilson Fr.-R