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Post-National Signing Day Mailbag 2/10

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In which we finally discuss Beesball!

Danny Karnik/Georgia Tech Athletics

How do the Jackets look on special teams? Will any of "The Twenty Seven" factor into ST in '15-'16?

Well they will be bringing Harrison Butker and Ryan Rodwell back, so I think the kicking and punting will be fine. I'm interested to see what Tech will do to improve their special teams blocking, which was absolutely atrocious this season. Because of that, Jamal Golden had a lot of his returns cut short.

Another thing to watch out for is incoming freshmen pushing Jamal Golden as the returner. Golden's a really good kick/punt returner, but we have some serious speed coming in too. It'll definitely be an exciting battle to watch.

How rare is it for two of the best games in a season end on interceptions? And did Pete Carroll let Mike Bobo off the hook?

I would say it's pretty rare. But it was also pretty fun to watch, even if I did pick Seattle to win that game (I won't say my score prediction out of embarrassment). Let's just take a second and watch each of those picks again.

That was beautiful. I could watch that first one all day long.

Who's going to be better this year: Atlanta Braves baseball or Georgia Tech baseball?

I'm going to go with Georgia Tech. They may be young, but they're also coming off of an ACC Championship season. The biggest concern they have right now is finding someone to close, a concern I'm confident will be figured out within the first couple of weeks.

Tech's also got some really good freshmen like Daniel Gooden, Wade Bailey and my personal favorite Kel Johnson coming in this season.

The Braves, on the other hand, will leave a lot to be desired. I am interested to see how this new hitting coach will perform. But without a major power-hitting threat, with the exception of Freddie Freeman, I find it hard to see the Braves doing much better than a .500 record. The pitching will be good though.

The Jackets have the happy but difficult problem of surplus position players on the diamond, even with injured OF Cole Miller having to leave the team. Where will AJ Murray start? Will Thomas Smith move back to second? Can freshman slugger Kel Johnson be kept out of the lineup?

I'm not sure that Cole Miller has left the team. I know he took a medical redshirt last season, but in this article herepreviewing Tech's outfield, Miller is named as a key depth player.

As for our depth, you are absolutely right. We've got a ton of it and it is a great problem to have. Regarding AJ Murray, I'm not so certain that he will start consistently this season. I do, however, think he will be our first guy off the bench with his versatility to catch, play first and DH.

As for Thomas Smith, I believe he'll stay at first and probably rotate there with Murray and Kel Johnson, while also playing a little bit of second base to give incoming freshman and expected starter Wade Bailey a day off every once in a while.

And as for Kel Johnson, there is no way his bat will be kept out of the lineup. Coming in, he becomes our single best power threat. This kid can flat-out hit. He will be a middle-of-the-order bat from day one. For his position, he'll probably also shuffle between first base, corner outfield and DH.

Which freshman not named Kel Johnson are you most excited about?

Well, you stole my favorite in Kel Johnson (which I've made abundantly clear), but after him, I'd say my favorite is probably Wade Bailey. He's a guy that is likely to be starting at second base for part or all of the season.

He absolutely tore it up for the East Cobb Yankees over the summer with a slash line of .391/.475/.533 and twice as many walks as strikeouts. He'll be good in the middle infield with sophomore shortstop Connor Justus.

The only question is will they be able to break the record set (mostly) by Justus and former Tech standout Mott Hyde with 77 double plays turned in a single season.

Who do you think will end up closing for us, or will Danny Hall opt for a (much lamer) closer-by-committee approach?

At least for the first part of the season, I think we'll go closer by committee. As much as I want him to start, I feel like Danny Hall will try senior left-handed pitcher Devin Stanton as the closer. He's a great pitcher, but with him having the ability to start, I feel like we should let him focus on that.

Another option which will be considered is sophomore right-handed pitcher Zac Ryan. Danny Hall tried him out as the midweek starter at the beginning of the season last year and pulled him by the middle of the season. He struggled quite a bit, but looked more comfortable coming out of the bullpen.

Looking over the roster, those are really the two best options, at least to start. I don't see Danny Hall throwing any of the freshmen into the closer's role, though lefty Daniel Gooden would be a good person to do it, though I'd rather have him as a starter too.

Any picks as to who may become the ace of the staff?

Again, there are a few options here. I would say that right now, Stanton is our best returning pitcher and I'm holding out hope that he'll start for us opening day.

After him, I'd look at lefties Jonathan King and Ben Parr. King had his season shortened due to injury last season, but from what I hear, he is back at full strength and when he is, he is a really good pitcher.

Parr also had a breakout season of sorts last season as a freshman. He finished fourth on the team in ERA with a 2.62 ERA.

Can you point to any one weakness of the upcoming baseball team?

Easy. The pitching staff.

There's definitely a lot of talent there, but there's also a lot of uncertainty there. As you pointed out in your last two questions, we don't really have an ace or a closer, both of which are pretty important, even if they only hold that role by name.

It's still good to have that established player that can fill those roles. We shall see how the youth of this team offsets the uncertainty surrounding it.

Are we tired of talking about football yet? And why will it be July before this buzz wears off?

Who said anything about us stopping football coverage. In all honesty, it's a year-round sport. There is literally always something to cover when it comes to football, especially if you cover a good team like Tech was this season.

Plus, by the time we get to July, we'll probably be getting into previews for the upcoming season.

Basketball hopes? Is a late season run still possible for the Jackets to potentially grab an NIT bid? And if they don't, do you think Brian Gregory is out or does Bobinski keep him around for another year?

Hahahahaha.....basketball hopes. That's a good one.

Is a late run possible? Technically. Is it likely? I doubt it. If they're gonna do it, though, they need to figure something out pretty soon.

As for the status of CBG, I'm not really too sure. I thought for sure that he was a goner earlier this season, but then that article from the AJC came out pretty much saying that MBob fully supported CBG, so we shall see.

Over/Under 72.5 wins for the Braves this year?

I think they'll hover around .500, so I guess that's the over at about 80-82 wins.

I do think that they'll finish much better than they'll start. They are probably going to fall flat on their faces in the first month or two because there's not a whole lot of chemistry on the team currently. But as they begin to trust each other more, they'll gel and play better.

Top 5 players in this recruiting class?

5. CB Dante Wigley: He's a big, physical corner that will come in and challenge for playing time immediately. Down the line, he and Step Durham will make a good combo at cornerback.

4. BB Mikell Lands-Davis: Our current future at b-back. I think he'll redshirt this season, but he'll definitely start here before his career is done. I also wouldn't be surprised to see him make a move to a-back if one of our other b-backs breaks out.

3. S AJ Gray: This kid not being a four- or five-star recruit was highway robbery. This kid is amazing. He'll be a good one for us.

2. QB Jaylend Ratliffe: I think a lot of people forget how good Ratliffe was before his injury. He was pretty good. And that coupled with the motivational factor makes him one of the best in this class.

1. OL Will Bryan: If you've read any recruiting-related thing I've written, you know that I have a gigantic man crush on Will Bryan, and rightfully so.

Best game you've ever been in attendance at?

This isn't hard at all. This year's rendition of Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate. In spite of the emotional roller coaster of that game, the end of it was worth it. I remember seeing uga drive down the field to score the game-tying touchdown. I just sat down and was thinking, "They're gonna give this up, aren't they?" And they did.

But the resiliency which Tech showed (and poor decision-making uga showed) made me proud. And I'll be the first one to tell you. I didn't have a lot of confidence in Harrison Butker when he lined up for that kick.

But at the same time, I almost knew he would make it. I remember talking to the old guy who was sitting next to me and telling him that he could make all the hard kicks, but you give him a chip shot to make and he'll shank it.

That was easily may favorite moment in Georgia Tech football which I've had the pleasure of viewing live. That and belting out the Ramblin' Wreck by myself in my section after the game. ;-)

Way-too-early breakdown on who in this new class will redshirt, who will start, and who won't start, but will see playing time?

Just because I feel like this is deserving of a post in and of itself, I'm going to wait and answer this question with a full post at a later date, probably after we finish the "Meet the Recruits" series.

If there was a zombie apocalypse, what weapon would CPJ use to kill zombies?

The b-back dive.

To those of us new to following Beesball, what is the landscape of the ACC like? In terms of strength against other conferences, and our rivals?

According to Rating Percentage Index (RPI), the ACC is the third-best conference in the country.

In spite of technically winning the ACC last season, Tech was not the best team in the conference. That title belongs to one of Florida State, Miami or Virginia. Tech went 4-5 against those teams last season, going 0-3 against UVA and 2-1 versus FSU and Miami.

Tech also plays other teams from around the state of Georgia besides uga (26-29-1 last season), which has a three-game series with Tech every season. On the schedule for that this season are two games with both Georgia Southern (40-23 last season), Mercer (38-17 last season), Kennesaw State (40-24 last season) and Georgia State (25-31 last season).

Ken Sugiura posted this. Noting that we have 87 scholarship players but only 85 spots, look at No. 4 and tell us what CPJ is trying to say.

For those who haven't read the article, here's the CPJ quote in question:

"I may already know something that’s going to happen," Johnson said. "So I’m comfortable with our numbers."

I don't really think there's anything cryptic going on here. We would not have taken two more than we could if we did not know for a fact that we would have players leaving. They likely notified the coaching staff that they would not be returning, allowing for them to take an additional two player in this class.

Will you please tell us what happened with Vic Alexander? Joey alluded to some confusing drama, but we never got the details.

Edit: sorry for forgetting this question. From what I know of the situation, Vic never decomitted from Tech. Instead a vague text message was taken out of context and that's where that rumor came from.