The A-Back position at Georgia Tech is probably one of the most interesting in all of college football. What makes a good A-Back, what an A-Back's role is, and what is asked/expected of an A-Back is pretty unique when compared to other roles in other schemes in football. Not only that, but it produces some of the most unexpected stars, and some of the most curious busts. It's a complex, abnormal position group from a lot of different angles. Let's try to make some sense of it.
The good news here is that the group really only lost one player. The bad news is that the player they lost was probably the offensive MVP last year. Robert Godhigh graduated after last season, and took with him nearly 20% of the team's rushing yards, and perhaps more importantly, nearly 28% of the team's receiving yards. A former walk-on, Godhigh was fantastic, both when the ball was in his hands, and even when it wasn't. He will be sorely missed by the Yellow Jackets' corps of A-Backs.
It was a successful recruiting class from the standpoint of A-Backs, as the Jackets added at least two of them, but as many as four potential players. The headliner here was the 4-star athlete Myles Autry. Though A-Back is an involved position that will take some time to master, Autry seems in line to play in at least a limited role given his game breaking ability with the ball in his hands. Fellow Norcross recruit Clinton Lynch was also a late addition to the recruiting class. While he may not see the field this year, Lynch was praised by his high school coach, who thought he was being underrated from the shadows of Autry and Norcross blue-chip recruit Lorenzo Carter.
Another guy with A-Back potential is Qua Searcy, a highly athletic player who is capable of playing multiple skill positions on offense, or just about anywhere in the secondary on defense. Though it looks like he's going to be mainly playing wide receiver, Searcy could end up seeing some (or all) of his time at A-Back. Likewise, C.J. Leggett is slated to play B-Back in what could be a short road to the starter role for him. With the recent academic disqualification of Travis Custis, the position is thin past the senior Zach Laskey, meaning Leggett could have the chance at some early playing time. However, there's also the (very small) chance that he sees a little bit of time at A-Back before transitioning back to B-Back, pulling the proverbial "Anthony Allen".
Long story short, expect to see Autry and Lynch at A-Back, but know that it's possible that either Searcy and/or Leggett could end up with a snap here or there at the spot too.
Projected Depth Chart
So far, we've discussed who left and who's joining in new. What we've failed to discuss is the "who's coming back" factor, which is really the one at play for this position group. Somehow, this group is going to end up having 5 seniors involved -- Synjyn Days, Deon Hill, B.J. Bostic, Tony Zenon, and Charles Perkins -- alongside the aforementioned potential of Autry, not to mention the high potential of Dennis Andrews that we caught glimpses of last year and the physical freak that is Broderick Snoddy. Given that these are the players in the mix, the depth chart looks as follows right now:
|Position||First String||Second String|
Deon Hill (R-Sr)
Tony Zenon (R-Sr)
Dennis Andrews (R-So)
Myles Autry (Fr)
|"Big" AB||Synjyn Days (R-Sr)||
Charles Perkins (R-Sr)
Broderick Snoddy (R-Jr)
As it stands right now, Synjyn Days looks set to be the "go-to" guy at A-Back, similar to Roddy Jones, Orwin Smith, and Robert Godhigh before him. He's a big, veteran guy with a complete set of skills and a lot of athleticism who will be a major piece of our offense this fall. Opposite him is likely to be a lot of Deon Hill, although maybe not quite as much in recent years. Hill suffers from Crohn's Disease, which is debilitating for him at times and could potentially impact his play in some capacity (but hopefully not). Hill brings lots of consistency to the offense, especially in the passing game.
Backing up Hill is likely to be B.J. Bostic, another very athletic player with a fairly complete set of skills, although his blocking could use some work sometimes. (That's a common theme among most A-Backs, though.) After the first wave at what we'll call the "Small" A-Back spot, there's a lineup of Zenon, Andrews, and Autry, all three of whom are dynamic ballcarriers that also add a lot in the passing game. On the other side, Charles Perkins is prepared to have a big impact in his senior season, though similar to Hill his workload will be limited due to medical concerns. He'll rotate with Snoddy, who's just casually a track star on the side and has yet-to-be-unlocked potential at A-Back. We'll see if he can become more of a star this fall.
Clearly, this will be the most veteran unit on the team, and could be one of the most veteran units in the conference or even in the entire country. That would typically indicate high performance, and it would seem that this unit's high performance would mean a lot more to the offense than usual. Given that the offense will be employing new starters at QB, B-Back, and three offensive line spots, there will be a lot of pressure on the A-Backs to step up this fall and help to lead the offensive charge. I think they're up to the challenge, but time will tell whether or not they're able to respond.
What are your expectations for this group this fall? Are you confident in this unit? Will they be helpful or a hindrance?