Georgia Tech’s wide receivers made progress in the spring. But hardly enough. In a recent interview, wide receivers coach Buzz Preston made it fairly clear that his charges didn’t quite cut it in spring practice.
Starting with Ricky Jeune, the team’s leading receiver last season, Preston ticked off a to-do list for his group, making it clear that more will be expected when the team begins preseason camp in late July.
Jeune, for instance, needs to work on his hands. Preston noted a drop that he had in the spring game.
“Last year, in key situations when we went to him, he dropped it,” Preston said. “You can’t have that. If you’re going to be the go-to kind of guy, you’ve got to make those plays in those moments.”
Brad Stewart has to learn to disengage from press coverage and adhere to his assignments and techniques.
“That’s where I want to see him improve, and I want to see that in all of them, because the spring game, I wasn’t very satisfied with our performance overall as a group,” Preston said. “I felt we just went out there and did not perform like we should.”
Preston said that Harland Howell, who redshirted in 2015, has to continue to mature “and understand that, the level that he’s at now, he’s got to pick it up a notch – quite a few notches – and understand that you have to be a consistent performer.”
Mikell Lands-Davis was moved to receiver during the spring to ease the glut of A-backs and provide depth at wide receiver. Preston said that the plans are for him to stay. One objective for him will continue to learn to play in space, as he is coming from running back.
“Towards the end of spring, I saw him improve and doing some good things, so I’m looking forward to him being a guy that can help us,” Preston said.
Christian Philpott redshirted last season and then missed the spring after suffering a hamstring injury on the first day. His development was slowed last summer because of another injury that kept him sidelined.
“It’s been rough for him,” Preston said. “He’s probably the one that’s frustrated. But you’ve just got to work through it. Things happen that way. It’s going to be interesting to see how he responds and see if he can hopefully stay healthy and get out there and show what he can do. Then it’ll all work out.”
Preston didn’t find their work level a problem. “I think they all have the drive to want to be really good,” he said. “It’s one thing to have the drive.”
Rather, it was becoming consistent and delivering in critical moments that was still lacking.
“If you’re consistent in your performance and execution, then the opportunity to play and have success is going to be high,” he said. “If you’re one of those guys where, once in a while – Whoa, wow. Then the next five opportunities, you’re not, that doesn’t help you because those next five opportunities are probably key points in the game where a play has to be made, and you didn’t make it. So consistent performance is what you’ve got to have.”