How Georgia Tech stacks up with returning starters (Hint: not great)

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 4: Justin Thomas #5 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets celebrates with fans after the game against the Miami Hurricanes at Bobby Dodd Stadium on October 4, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas is one of 11 (or 12, depending on who’s counting) returning starters for the 2016 season. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

So not only did Georgia Tech struggle through its worst season since 1994, but the Yellow Jackets will also reportedly bring back the fewest returning starters in the ACC.

According to numbers tabulated by college football maven Phil Steele, Tech is tied with Duke for fewest returning starters in the conference at 11 and tied for 98th nationally, six on offense and five on defense. The Tech opponents in the league with the most returning starters are Miami and Virginia Tech (tied for third at 16).

I think the number should actually be 12, though. Returning starters are typically defined as players who started either six games or half of the team’s games (depending on who’s doing the defining). I count seven on offense who started at least six games (which was also half) and five on defense.

Offense: Quarterback Justin Thomas, A-backs Clinton Lynch and Isiah Willis, wide receiver Ricky Jeune, center Freddie Burden, right guard Shamire Devine and right tackle Will Bryan.

Defense: Defensive ends KeShun Freeman and Rod Rook-Chungong, defensive tackle Patrick Gamble, linebacker P.J. Davis and nickel back Lawrence Austin.

Even still, 12 returning starters would tie for 11th in the conference.

Six additional players started three or more games and gained considerable experience.

Five starts: Wide receiver Brad Stewart.

Three starts: Defensive tackle Kyle Cerge-Henderson, A-back Mikell Lands-Davis, left tackle Trey Klock, B-back Marcus Marshall, linebacker Brant Mitchell.

For what it’s worth, Tech was thought to be light on experience in 2014, when Tech was tied for 100th nationally and 12th in the ACC with 11 returning starters. That season turned out O.K.

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