With the NFL's preseason officially underway, the AJC's Ken Sugiura took a moment to look and see how some of Tech's most recent alumni are doing with their new professional teams. Interestingly enough, all but one 2014 Yellow Jacket -- DeAndre Smelter, in this case -- took the field for an NFL team in week one of the preseason and made some sort of impact. Shaq Mason, who started at left guard for New England, surprised no one by excelling in run-blocking but struggling to hold his own against a tough Packers defensive line in pass protection. Though he isn't a rookie, it is worth nothing that former Yellow Jacket Jemea Thomas had a great game for the Tennessee Titans against the Falcons, leading the team in tackles with seven. Thomas is now with his fourth team since being selected by New England last year.
Though calling Justin Thomas a mere field general would be an appalling insult to all that he has accomplished as Georgia Tech's starting quarterback, there is no denying that his unique and effective leadership style has made his tenure on The Flats among the most successful in history. Calling Thomas a "quiet leader" as ESPN's David Hale does in the article is a very accurate reflection on what the redshirt junior has been able to do with Tech's football team -- his style stands in such stark contrast with that of his predecessor, Vad Lee, that you can't help but attribute some of his success as a player to how he conducts himself. Though it is too early to call him a generational player (in Paul Johnson's system, of course), it is more than fair to say that finding a playmaker with such strong leadership qualities is both rare and exciting. The next two seasons should be a lot of fun.
Paul Johnson was recently asked to list his top five favorite wins of his entire coaching tenure yesterday and rattled off a list that includes a couple of FCS Championships and a number of upsets. I think we sometimes forget just how historically good a coach Paul Johnson was at the FCS level -- his Georgia Southern teams dominated consistently and won multiple national championships with ease. I've never mentioned this before and haven't heard it mentioned elsewhere, but it sure seems like Johnson's experience coaching in a playoff would be very valuable if Tech were to make a playoff appearance, particularly now while so few coaches have any similar experience. To clarify, I'm just saying that it is an asset. I'm not projecting a playoff appearance, for now at least.
It was announced yesterday by the National Labor Relations Board that student athletes at Northwestern University would not be allowed to unionize, officially striking down their proposal. Though this seems like a loss for student-athletes on the outside, you have to remember that they've already won plenty. Be it stipends or new regulations allowing family to travel to games, the state of NCAA athletes is better now than it was a year ago. Unionization just seems a bit extreme, at least at this juncture.
How big of an advantage would Paul Johnson's FCS playoff experience be in the FBS playoff?