Georgia Tech safety and return specialist Jamal Golden loves what he sees out of his fellow specialists.
“We have dynamic special teams,” Golden said this week. “I’m sure Coach Ray (Rychleski) is going to take that up another notch just with his experience, with his game planning. He’s a smart guy, and I’m looking forward to getting back out there.”
Golden missed most of last season with a shoulder injury after a standout 2012 season in which he ran back two kickoffs for touchdowns and was sixth in the country in punt return average at 14.6 yards. While leaving the decision up to Rychleski, Tech’s new special-teams coordinator, Golden said he expects to take on both duties again this fall.
Golden has also been fielding kickoffs and punts with kickers Harrison Butker and Roberto Hinojosa and punter Ryan Rodwell.
“I just go in there and field for them and let them get the feel of kicking to a returner,” Golden said. “We work all the time. They’re kicking pretty good.”
Butker is back for his sophomore season. As a freshman, he made 10 of 14 field-goal tries (including 5-for-7 from 40-49 yards out) and recorded touchbacks on 30 of 73 kickoffs. He also made academic All-ACC.
“I’m just looking forward to seeing him work this year,” Golden said. “He’ll get us a game or two.”
Rodwell played in six games as a freshman in 2012 but redshirted last season. After Golden went out, DeAndre Smelter, Lynn Griffin and Dennis Andrews were among those taking turns in the return game. Golden noted the return of a less prominent special teamer – linebacker Anthony Harrell, who suffered a season-ending knee injury against Syracuse last season but is mending.
“People forget about him,” Golden said. “He’s the guy that makes things go.”
Golden said he has met with Rychleski, hired in May, two or three times. They’ve talked schemes, watched video together, both past Tech games and from Rychleski’s past stops. Golden said it was heartbreaking when former special-teams coordinator Dave Walkosky abruptly resigned in May, but said he was looking forward to working with his new special-teams coach.
“He seems like he knows what he’s doing, so I’m ready to take his experience and turn my game up to the next level,” he said.