Last year, Jamal Golden gave this team something it's been lacking for 15 years in the form of a major kick return threat, becoming the first Yellow Jacket to run back a kickoff for a touchdown since 1998 when Dez White did it. Oh, and for good measure, one week after accomplishing that against BYU he took another one to the house against North Carolina. For the first time in a long time, Tech fans have something to be excited for when they look for who's lined up to return a kickoff.
All that said, can Golden repeat the performance this year? To a certain degree, kickoff returns for touchdowns involve luck -- one can't count on the coverage unit being out of position or missing tackles on a regular basis. However, Golden showed skills last year that are crucial for capitalizing on those coverage mishaps. He displays great top-end speed, reads his blocks very well, and is very much a vertical runner who doesn't mess around with a bunch of jukes.
On the first return in particular, Golden started working the return to the right before putting his foot in the ground, cutting back to his left, and running right past all of the BYU defenders who had gotten out of their lanes. However, it wasn't all speed -- a bit past midfield, Golden found himself in some traffic but had the patience to wait for his blockers to help out. The play basically consisted of Golden putting on a clinic of how to effectively return a kickoff.
For this year, I'm setting the line for total Jamal Golden touchdowns at 2.5, and I'm taking the Over. Keep in mind that Golden doesn't just return kickoffs -- he'll play a major role in our secondary and could end up returning punts as well. Considering his athleticism and mental discipline, I think the chances that he scores 3 touchdowns between special teams and defense are fairly good.
That's just one man's opinion though, Tech fans. It's now time for you to share yours. Does Jamal Golden make it into the end zone at least three times this fall?