6 notes before Georgia Tech-Miami

Georgia Tech linebacker P.J. Davis played as a first-year freshman in 2012, then moved into a starting role as a sophomore. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

Georgia Tech linebacker P.J. Davis against Miami last season, back when his ankle wasn’t falling off. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

1. Linebacker P.J. Davis is probable for Saturday’s game with an ankle injury. He has left multiple games in which he has left temporarily, only to return again. I remember in the Pittsburgh game, I believe, Davis was hobbled on a play and clearly in pain, and Victor Alexander ran in to take him out, but Davis waved Alexander off the field.

“He’s a guy that just loves playing the game,” linebackers coach Andy McCollum said. “You’d like coaching a lot of ’em just like him.”

Davis will finish the season leading the team in tackles for a second consecutive season. Not bad for a two-star prospect who was the last addition to the 2013 class, particularly considering he’s done it with a bum ankle.

“It’s almost got to be hanging off of him for him not to go,” McCollum said. “That’s the way he was raised, the way he was coached in high school and raised by his family.”

2. Coach Paul Johnson had praise for the two redshirting freshman wide receivers, Harland Howell and Christian Philpott. It was hoped that Philpott would have a chance to play this season, but an injury prior to camp slowed his development. He has spent most of the season on the scout team.

“I see them getting better every single day,” Johnson said. “I’m excited to see what Harland and Christian Philpott can do in the spring.”

Johnson brought up both Wednesday while answering a question about fellow freshman wide receiver Brad Stewart. It’s a little unusual for Johnson to bring up freshmen in that way, particularly those who are redshirting, and in that sense you could interpret that as a pretty strong endorsement. Should be a competitive spring with Stewart, Philpott and Howell, as well as Antonio Messick, pushing Ricky Jeune.

3. For the story I wrote for myajc and Saturday’s paper, I spoke with former Tech players Ron Rogers, Nate Stimson, P.J. Daniels and Izaan Cross. They each mentioned some of the same things, that the bowl streak meant something to them and that they were disappointed that it is apparently ending, but didn’t hold hard feelings towards the 2015 team.

“I think it’s something that we should definitely take pride in,” Daniels said.

Daniels was probably the most fired up of the four about the streak. He said he became aware of the streak on “day one.”

“Because that was the one thing that was pretty much ingrained in our brain, make sure we make the bowl game and keep that legacy up,” he said.

Daniels, of course, set an NCAA bowl record in the 2004 Humanitarian Bowl with 307 rushing yards.

“My whole team was in a zone,” Daniels said. “We were feeding off each other’s energy and it was one of those games where I was like, Wow, I’m really doing this.”

Daniels has found an unlikely career. He is living in San Diego and teaches mindfulness and meditation to kids. He wrote a children’s book on the subject that was published last year.

4. Miami defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio on safety Deon Bush:

“I think this is a game he can do extremely well in. He’s seen this offense several times before and it fits his skillset so I’m looking forward to him playing his best game.”

Bush had seven tackles against Tech last season.

Miami cornerback Corn Elder may be a familiar name. Elder strongly considered Tech and actually was a possibility to play basketball for coach Brian Gregory before ending up at Miami. Elder was also the player who scored the game-winning touchdown on the eight-lateral kickoff return for a touchdown against Duke.

5. Johnson is trying to prepare for a December without bowl practice, but is at something of a loss. Prior to bowl games in his first seven seasons at Tech, he led Navy to five consecutive bowl appearances. Prior to that, he led Georgia Southern to five consecutive appearances in the Division I-AA playoffs.

“You won’t be as cramped in recruiting and you’ll have some other things, but it’s still disappointing,” he said. “We were talking the other day, I don’t know what to do. It’s been so long since we had that. You’ve got to look at the calendar and reassess. It’s not something we planned on.”

6. This is unrelated to Saturday’s game, but worth mentioning about two former Tech players: Charles Perkins and wife Hillary are proud first-time parents. Zoe Malia was born Friday at Gwinnett Medical Center.

Isaiah Johnson was signed by the Detroit Lions off their practice squad last week and played in their 18-16 win over Green Bay last Sunday. Johnson played 17 special-teams snaps and may have helped set an NFL record for most players with the last name Johnson who went to the same high school but are unrelated to play in an NFL game.

That is pretty remarkable, though – two graduates of the same high school (Calvin Johnson is the other, both went to Sandy Creek High in Tyrone) playing for the same NFL team, though Sandy Creek has a pretty strong tradition (former Tech offensive tackle Andrew Gardner is on the Philadelphia Eagles roster, although he suffered a season-ending foot injury in the third game).

That said, on the opening weekend of the season, St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., had 15 graduates on NFL rosters. The Georgia high schools with the most was Stephenson High and Tucker High with four.

 

Apologies for the delay of these notes. More than you probably care to know, but for some reason my laptop is having connection issues with the wireless Internet in my house. It works fine everywhere else, and all the other devices that we have in the house have no problem, just my laptop in my house. And the football team thinks it’s had bad breaks.


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