Jamal Golden, Redshirt Junior, Defensive Back & Kick/Punt Returner
At Homecoming 2012, a streak was broken that had lasted just short of 14 years. Somehow, for over a decade, nobody on Georgia Tech's roster was able to return a kickoff for a touchdown. However, that wouldn't be lasting any longer, because this happened:
It was then and there that Golden completed establishing himself as one of the most dynamic return men in the country, and one of the biggest "impact players" on Georgia Tech's roster. Returning kicks and punts, Golden has the opportunity to turn a game around on a dime, something not to be taken lightly at all. His second kickoff return for a touchdown (only two weeks later against UNC) set the tone for the second half of a game that would turn into a complete barn-burner. It was again in the Sun Bowl victory over USC that Golden would impact a game, taking a punt back to the 1-yard line early in the second half and leading to a Georgia Tech score.
The point is, Golden is a game-changer. Oh, and we haven't even talked about defense yet. Golden would appear to be the heir apparent to Jemea Thomas, having the ability to be a "jack of all trades", if you will, and play cornerback, nickelback, or safety. As it stands, he'll be at free safety, flanking the returning strong safety Isaiah Johnson. Golden's athleticism and abilities to read offenses and play the ball in the air will go a long way for him to be a play maker on the first three downs as well. His veteran leadership and work ethic also will play a big role in how this team performs this fall. Like the players mentioned before, Golden is the type of guy who will have a strong effect on the locker room, and always for the better. He's a hard worker, which anyone who follows him on Twitter would confirm -- he's always going to watch film and works with Harrison Butker multiple times a week on their kicking and returning.
Golden has play-making abilities on defense, game-changing abilities on special teams, and is a difference-maker in the locker room. What more could you want from an impact player?
Your turn. Did we get it right? Are Mason, Smelter, Nealy, Gotsis, and Golden the five biggest impact players on this team? Who did we leave off?