Countdown to Kickoff: 68 days
As our 100 Days to Kickoff series rolls on, this week we’ll be taking a look at players you haven’t seen before, but will want to know about going into the 2016 season. All of these players come into the season with no experience at the college level, but tons of potential to make an impact on the field this fall for the Yellow Jackets.
BB Dedrick Mills, Freshman, 5-10, 217 pounds, Waycross, GA
The fourth commitment in Georgia Tech’s 2016 recruiting class came on May 27, 2015 from South Georgia RB Dedrick Mills. Mills was said to be the top B-Back on the board for Georgia Tech’s coaches, and committed to the Yellow Jackets over several big-time reported offers, including Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, and Tennessee. Despite incredible film from his junior year and a strong offer sheet, Mills was only rated a three-star recruit by Rivals (5.6) and the 247Sports Composite (0.8534). He was even named to the all-state teams on both sides of the ball. (When I’ve mentioned that I think several of the commitments in Georgia Tech’s 2016 class were underrated, Mills is one of the first that comes to mind. To put it simply, he’s better than a middle-tier three-star prospect.) The latest set of his highlights are from his junior year, shown below.
Set to be a true freshman this fall, Mills enrolled early at Georgia Tech and was able to participate in spring practice with his new teammates. In the spring game, Mills played very well for a player only a few months removed from finishing his high school career. With only 11 carries, he racked up 47 yards while displaying his excellent natural combination of speed and power. Mills plays with an excellent physicality that fits perfectly into the B-Back position, and combining it with speed means he’s fully comfortable with running between the tackles or on the perimeter. As rare as it is for Paul Johnson to use true freshmen at skill positions on offense unless absolutely necessary, Dedrick Mills has the tools to get on the field as a true freshman, and it showed in the spring game.
That begs the question, though — will it be absolutely necessary to play Mills? He’ll be playing the B-Back position alongside senior Marcus Allen, the sophomore and presumed heir to the 2015 starting role C.J. Leggett (who returns after missing the year with an injury), the sophomore who led the 2015 team in rushing Marcus Marshall, and the theoretically more-experienced duo of Quaide Weimerskirch and KirVonte Benson. Of all of those players, only Marshall would be eligible to sit out the season and take a redshirt year — a highly unlikely scenario barring an injury to the returning starter. Here’s a theoretical look at the depth chart entering fall camp, though it should be noted that this is very much conjecture and remains up in the air until the season kicks off:
|Position||First String||Second String|
|B-Back||Marcus Marshall (So)
C.J. Leggett (R-So)
|Marcus Allen (R-Sr)
Dedrick Mills (Fr)
Quaide Weimerskirch (R-Fr)
The bottom line is this: if the coaches deem Mills good enough to where he needs to be on the field as a true freshman in 2016, he’ll do things that impress a lot of Georgia Tech fans and inspire hope and excitement for future years. However, if it’s determined that they can’t afford to use a year of his eligibility with so many other options at the position, it may be 2017 before Yellow Jackets fans get a proper introduction to the incoming stud of a running back. Either way, the combination of Leggett, Marshall and Mills sets up for two things in Georgia Tech’s future:
1) A group of ball carriers that I’d feel obligated to refer to as “The Law Firm”.
2) The most athletic group of B-Backs that Paul Johnson has had since arriving on the Flats.
There’s a good chance we’ll get our first taste of that combination in 2016.