Posted: 3:01 pm Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Which Tech incoming freshmen could play right away? 

By Ken Sugiura

Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson shed some light Tuesday on a favorite topic of the offseason – which incoming freshmen might play this fall.

“The opportunity’s always there if they’re going to play,” Johnson said at the Pigskin Preview in Macon at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. “I can see some guys on the offensive line, at least in backup roles. I can see some guys in the secondary. Maybe running back.”

Early enrollees Step Durham (cornerback) and KeShun Freeman (defensive end) already look like they’ll be playing; they participated in spring practice (Freeman particularly played well) and were on the recently released two-deep depth chart.

The opportunity on the line results from having three starters, Ray Beno, Jay Finch and Will Jackson, graduate, as well as Morgan Bailey, who decided to not return for his senior season. Of the 10 spots on the depth chart for the offensive line, three players (tackle Chris Griffin, guard Shamire Devine and center Freddie Burden) have no playing experience, and tackle Errin Joe and center Thomas O’Reilly haven’t played much, which means less of a barrier to overcome for freshmen.

There are six freshman offensive linemen coming in – Gary Brown, Trey Klock, Andrew Marshall, Michael Preddy, Jake Stickler and Jake Whitley. Offensive line is not easy to play as a true freshman for a variety of reasons, and the fact that only one Tech lineman (Shaquille Mason) has done it in the past five years attests to it. But the lack of experienced depth and the high volume of incoming freshmen makes it more likely.

In the secondary, Durham and fellow signees Lance and Lawrence Austin and Jalen Johnson are possibilities, although Johnson tore his ACL in the preseason of his senior year and would seem a logical candidate to redshirt. The Austins, in particular, could be candidates to be impact players on special teams this season. (If you’re wondering, Qua Searcy, a teammate of the Austins at Lamar County, will begin at wide receiver.) Defensive back is the position that has had the most true freshmen play in the past five years, eight.

As for the running back spot, highly-touted prospect Myles Autry would certainly seem a candidate at A-back. C.J. Leggett will be competing for playing time at B-back.

It will be decided by a few things – the need at a particular position, ability to contribute on special teams and the preparedness of the player. The special-teams factor is a large part of why more than half of the true freshmen to play in the past five years have been defensive backs or linebackers. But whether or not the player is ready is as important as any, obviously. Paul Davis, for instance, came in from the start last preseason showing that he was ready to play at the college level. I don’t know that anyone was necessarily expecting or predicting it, but he seized the opportunity. Guard Shamire Devine could well have played last year as a true freshman, but injuries and weight issues set him back, and by the time he was ready to contribute, it was too far into the season.

Below, a list of the Tech players to play as true freshmen, and a position breakdown.

DB – 8

LB – 7

WR – 4

K/P – 3

DL – 2

LS – 2

RB – 2

OL – 1

2013 (3)

K Harrison Butker

LB Paul Davis

LS Trevor Stroebel (walk-on)

2012 (4)

WR Anthony Autry

DT Adam Gotsis

P Ryan Rodwell

CB D.J. White

2011 (10)

WR Corey Dennis

DB Jamal Golden

WR Jeff Greene

DB Zach Laskey (switched to running back after the season)

G Shaquille Mason

LB Tremayne McNair

LB Nick Menocal (now a defensive end)

LS Sean Tobin

LB Kyle Travis

WR Darren Waller

2010 (6)

LB Jeremiah Attaochu (moved to defensive end)

AB B.J. Bostic

S Fred Holton

S Isaiah Johnson

K Justin Moore

CB Louis Young

2009 (6)

LB Julian Burnett

DE Izaan Cross

WR Stephen Hill

AB Orwin Smith

CB Rod Sweeting

DB Jemea Thomas

21 comments
Quackmeyer
Quackmeyer

GT does a good job of signing a lot of 'O' linemen.

D-Sheets
D-Sheets

BigCrimson75 5ptsFeatured
2 hours ago

It's gotta "sting" GT fans looking over the list of incoming recruits at Bama!! :( :(

Geez, by my count 16 possibly as many as 20 start on the Flats -- Day 1.

The discrepancy in the art of recruiting between the Nic-Tator and CPJ is astounding..... astounding!!

-----------------------

BC75,

This might very well be the dumbest, most illogical comment ever posted on a GT blog.

Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

Why are so many true freshmen slated to play?  I thought the general fundamental was to redshirt freshmen, to allow development.

GTFan478
GTFan478

Ken I know this is off topic, but was wondering if maybe you could ever get an interview with former defensive lineman Joe Anoai. He is also known as Roman Reigns to the WWE universe. Would love to hear an interview with him about how he went from Tech to the WWE. Doubt this will ever happen, but thanks anyways.

POAD2014
POAD2014

I just hope we can get a healthy O-Line to play together for a lot of snaps. It would be nice to rotate guys in the o-line to get game experience but have a starting 5 that play a lot together.

I think losing Custis is going to hurt and force CJ to really step up his game fast to get down the mesh with the QBs.

ConfederateFlagBurner
ConfederateFlagBurner

Ken, 


Any chance Qua could be moved to defense, he was exceptional as a safety in highschool. 

AugustaJacket
AugustaJacket

Freeman and Durham are fairly certain to get significant playing time this season.  Myles Autry and the Austin Twins, likewise, seem certain to play as true freshmen.  Of the rest, I would think that Trey Klock could earn some playing time, as well as possibly Andrew Marshall.  CJ Leggett, to me, is the one I expect to maybe make the biggest impact.  He could very well end up being the backup to Laskey.

BearCasey
BearCasey

@D-Sheets  LOL  Comparing Alabama and GT is similar to comparing God to your second grade teacher.

GTBob
GTBob

@Birmingham__Jacket Unless they are ready to play or we need additional depth at some position. Personally, ive always though that we redshirt too much.

GTBob
GTBob

@BigCrimson75 As many as 20 of Alabama's recruits would start for 90% of the teams in the country. You guys are the best. Im not sure anybody is going to cry about it though. You also know full well that it has little to do with Nick or CPJ. 

kls82883
kls82883

@BigCrimson75 Kids come to Tech for an education. Bama, not so much. My five year old daughter could test into Bama.

KenAJC
KenAJC moderator

@GTFan478 it's not at the top of my list, but i'm also curious and have thought it'd make for an interesting story. thanks for the suggestion.

GTLee
GTLee

Joe's dad and brother are both professional wrestlers. He is also related to The Rock, Rikishi, and The Usos.

AugustaJacket
AugustaJacket

@POAD2014 CJ isn't going to have much less experience than Custis would have.  Just the Spring practices.  Otherwise, they would both be true freshmen.

KenAJC
KenAJC moderator

@ConfederateFlagBurner it's possible it could happen over time. it just depends on how he does at WR and how depth is at both positions.

twelveofthirteen
twelveofthirteen

I think bigcrimsac was just pounding his chest here because you guys embarrassed him on the basketball article discussing the transfer and how poor their b ball program is. Resorted back to football to try and make himself feel better. Normal reaction from a bammer.

Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

@GTBob @BigCrimson75

It doesn't "sting" me.  We don't play Alabama.  And Bama recruits on a unequal playing field that is completely different from GT, in terms of admission requirements.

What "stings" is the disparity of our recruits vs. the teams we play--- Clemson and UGA.

GTFan478
GTFan478

I knew all that already. Just kind of curious to hear the journey he took. Only reason I brought it up is, because he went to Tech and how big he's getting.

AugustaJacket
AugustaJacket

@POAD2014 @AugustaJacket CJ Leggett was rated equal to or higher by every recruiting service (except Scout) than Custis.  Custis has a more prototypical BB build than Leggett, (6'0" 210 vs 5'10" 207) but both can play the position.  Additionally, CJ's 40 time (4.5) is faster than Custis' 4.67.  Custis was probably a bit more "game ready," but I think Leggett can be every bit as good, if not better.