When I arrived there at 3:15 PM, former Yellow Jackets Vance Walker and Elris Anyaibe were already on the field working out with GT Strength & Conditioning Coach Eric Ciano. Today’s Atlanta weather was perfect, not too hot, some clouds in the sky but plenty of sun.
The linebackers were the first to come out to the field as Coach Brian Jean-Mary had them walk through some of the basics of the drills they’d be doing. The players were in their shells (helmets & shorts), as it is standard procedure for a first practice. At this point, the kickers/punters/long snappers were out practicing on the turf field.
Some of the players who got to practice as punt returners were: DJ McKayhan, Quentin Sims, Jerrard Tarrant, Roddy Jones, Marcus Wright, Cooper Taylor, and Anthony Allen, as well as some of the others who’ve played the role in the past. This suggests to me that the positions are still WIDE OPEN for the taking.
You could tell some of the players hadn’t caught a punt in a while, which led to them having to “get on the ground” a number of times. Coach Johnson himself spent some time overseeing the coaching of the special teams.
The crowd in attendance probably peaked somewhere around 50 people midway during the practice. I’d say it was roughly 35 percent students watching from the top of the hill.
Today’s practice spent more time on special teams than I remember from practices last year. This might be because it was the first, or the focus on this game changing element of the game might simply be a bigger priority this year.
I didn’t get a picture of the actor, Quenton Aaron, but he definitely stood out among the rest of the players. He looked a whole lot more like a traditional offensive lineman than what we have on our team.
Aaron spent the first half of the practice working out with the players on red beach. Although the AJC reports that he has been working out with Coach Ciano, he’s definitely not in the same condition as the rest of the Tech squad as was clear by the look on his face of exhaustion.
Some of the other players on the beach were (offensive lineman turned defensive lineman) Jason Hill, and DeRon Jasper, Dan Voss, Clyde Yandell, and Nick Claytor.
A notable absence from the practice field was (rising) RS Sophomore R.B. Clyburn who is rumored to have left the team.
Emanuel Dieke, who is the only player of the 2009 recruiting class to enroll early, had a good workout and kept up with the tempo of the whole thing. He’s been gaining a lot of weight since I first saw him on campus, and sported the No. 93.
FYI, another player who’s been working on beefing up is DE Antonio Wilson who redshirted last year as a freshman. His form and hustle reminded me of another Defensive End Tech recently graduated.
Today’s practice was relatively fumble free, which is expected of a team with an entire season in this system playing without a real (full contact) defense.
I found it interesting to watch Albert Rocker and Osahon Tongo transition to defensive line play as they move closer to the line of scrimmage from the Yellow Jacket linebacker corps. From the brief moments that I did watch, I noticed Tongo working hard to get rid of old habits he might be bringing with him from his former position.
The 1-1 WR/DB drills looked sloppy by all three players involved. Shaw, Nesbitt, Henry, and Washington all got their reps in, with Shaw & Nesbitt leading the pack among the QBs. The only player that stood out to me as a wide receiver was Tyler Melton when his sharp route running got him open deep down field during the 7-on-7 drill.
On a side note, it was great to see the triple-option play be run live and in living color for the first time since Dec. 31.
Georgia Tech’s offensive backfield shuffled around plenty as both Dwyer and Anthony Allen got some play time at A-Back (as expected). RS Freshman Richard Watson also performed well and showed good speed while carrying the ball.
Quarterback Josh Nesbitt practiced with his ankles protected (taped), more than likely as a precaution.
Comparing this year’s first practice to last year’s first practice is not even fair. The players did far less up-downs today than they did during a five-minute period this same time last year.
The tempo of the practice was also much more like it was a third into last season’s spring practices.
Anthony Egbuniwe to me stood out as someone trying to be a leader on the team. His voice and intensity was ever present when the defense moved from one drill to another.
At one point towards the end of the practice, Coach Johnson noticed the defense (who practiced 1 v 1 hitting drills with a padded shield) and decided to remind everyone how hard they need to work this year by dividing the groups in half to have twice as many people going at at time.
During these same drills, RS Freshman TJ Barnes made one of the most memorable moments of the practice when he demonstrated his big hit ability (and the crowd sounded pleased).
Team morale before and after the practice was positive. You could tell they wanted to be back on that field as much as we wanted to see them on that field
More on the rumor side: I hear next year we might be getting new uniforms. I know what you’re thinking (AGAIN!?) but once again, that’s just a rumor.
Player of the day: TJ Barnes- He moved with intensity, hit hard, and made his presence felt by everyone in the crowd.
Who Looked Better? (Offense/Defense): For today, I’d say the offense was still cold from the 3 month long break and made the defense look good.
Next practice is scheduled for this Wednesday @ 3:30 PM. The forecast is 61° and Showers (60 percent probability).
For next week I intend to take a closer look at Correy Earls who’s made the move to cornerback this season as well as Jerrard Tarrant who is back on the team after a season long suspension.
Special thanks to Trey Birch for taking the pictures.
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For the rest of the photo gallery go HERE.
Want a different view of practice? See another student blog The Legacyx4.
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