1. Right guard Shaquille Mason was named to his fourth All-America team Wednesday, this time making the second team of the Football Writers Association of America’s All-America team. He has also been named to the Associated Press (third team), Sports Illustrated (second team) and USA Today (first team) All-America teams.
He is the first Tech player named to the FWAA All-America team since Calvin Johnson in 2006 and the first offensive lineman since Chris Brown in 2000. His four All-America honors are the most since Derrick Morgan in 2009. Morgan was named to eight All-America teams.
Mason, by the way, is planning to do his pre-draft training in Arizona with former NFL lineman LeCharles Bentley.
As a side note, to take nothing away from Mason’s recognition, but this is one of the bonuses of winning 10 games – people take notice. I can’t speak for every voter of every All-America team or the All-ACC voters, but I have to believe for at least some, this thought, or a variation of it, occurred: “Well, Georgia Tech had a really good year and had one of the best running games in the country. Who’s the best lineman?”
You may remember players like Robert Godhigh and Jemea Thomas not getting recognized last year, when it was clear to anyone who watched the Jackets’ season how well they played. If Tech had won 10 games last year instead of seven, they would have gotten more attention, and that probably would have been reflected in postseason individual honors.
2. The Tech website is running a fun contest to determine the team’s play of the year. The site is running a bracket (dubbed “Jacketology”) filled out with 12 different plays from the season, to let fans vote on the play of the year.
It went up Wednesday night, with the No. 8 seed (Chris Milton’s interception return for a touchdown against Clemson) and the No. 9 seed (Broderick Snoddy’s touchdown run against Pittsburgh) It’s interesting – looking back at the Snoddy touchdown (clips are available on the website), I’m not sure there’s a single block that you’d call a complete win. Mason actually didn’t touch a linebacker he was trying to cut, but forced him to go around him. But enough blocks were substantive enough to let Snoddy use his speed and level a Pittsburgh safety to go 34 yards for the score. It goes to show what a difference a player with Snoddy’s playmaking ability can make.
Cornerback D.J. White’s game-ending interception against Georgia is the top seed and will get the winner in the quarterfinals.
3. Fourteen players on the roster received their diplomas in Saturday’s graduation – B.J. Bostic, Trey Braun, Sunjyn Days, Corey Dennis, Deon Hill, Errin Joe, Tyler Marcordes, Sam McNearney, Quayshawn Nealy, Joshua Rogers, DeAndre Smelter, Sean Tobin, Darren Waller and Tony Zenon.
Isaiah Johnson received his graduate degree in building construction.
I wrote a note about Braun on Tuesday about his receiving his mechanical engineering degree and his impending marriage to his high-school sweetheart. There’s another plaudit to add that I neglected. He was part of a team that won best overall project for industrial design in Tech’s Capstone Design Expo. The Capstone Design class is a culminating course offered to undergraduates across several majors in which student teams design, build and test prototypes with real-world applications.
Braun’s group built a functioning peanut roaster. He described it as a “dual-chambered steel cylinder, and it basically works as a convention oven so it gets the air hot without heating up the metal that (the peanuts are) touching. So it was cool. We had a grill set up there (at the expo), so a lot of people were coming over to see what the fire was about.”
4. Linebacker Quayshawn Nealy will take part in the East-West Shrine Game, considered the No. 2 pre-draft showcase after the Senior Bowl. Nealy, a four-year starter, was named second-team All-ACC by media and third-team by the coaches. The game will be played Jan. 17 in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Defensive back Jemea Thomas played in the Shrine game last year and practiced so well during the week that he was given an invitation into the Senior Bowl.
He is the only senior that is known to have accepted an invitation to an all-star game. I would have thought Mason would get a Senior Bowl invite, and there’s still a chance it could happen, as the rosters aren’t filled out.
5. So long as the assistant coach salary pool is increased – it was a priority for coach Paul Johnson in negotiations for his extension – that should mean a raise when the new contracts are issued, typically beginning in July.
“The thing about it is, I don’t really ever get into anybody’s pay,” defensive line coach Mike Pelton said. “And that’s the truth. You’re just thankful you have a job. You’re thankful that you work at a great university like this, and that’s not cliché talk. That’s just something you’re thankful for, the opportunity you can continue to coach the guys that you love, and it’s just a great feeling to be here at Georgia Tech right now.”
A great quote from Pelton about the defensive line depth and his foursome of scholarship defensive tackles, Patrick Gamble, Adam Gotsis, Shawn Green and Francis Kallon.
“To make it through a season with four scholarship ‘d’ tackles and to win the games we did, it was nothing short of a miracle,” he said.