Despite serving two suspensions and missing additional time due to a concussion, rising sophomore B-Back Dedrick Mills had arguably the biggest impact of any 2016 signee on his team as a true freshman. That sentiment is echoed in the above article from ESPN, which notes that Mills led the team in rushing with 771 yards and an additional 12 touchdowns. Had he kept on the straight-and-narrow all year long, he almost certainly would’ve hit the 1,000-yard mark and figures to be in the running for that statistic during the 2017 season. Parker Braun is also mentioned among the true freshmen who made a big impact in the ACC; his success reflects well on the ESPN recruiting rankings, which had him as a top-300 recruit and four-star prospect, much higher than any other source.
It’s officially Super Bowl weekend and regardless of which team comes out on top, a former Yellow Jacket will go home with a ring. Georgia Tech has an alumnus on each of the rosters: linebacker Philip Wheeler for Atlanta and guard Shaq Mason for New England. Both were outstanding during their days at Tech, Mason most recently, and both have played very well this season in differing roles — Shaq as a starter on the Patriots offensive line and Wheeler as a reserve linebacker for the Falcons. As a conference, the ACC will field a grand total of 16 players across the two teams. That number includes Tech’s two representatives plus the likes of Matt Ryan, Vic Beasley, Dwight Freeney, Devonta Freeman, and others.
Speaking of Shaq Mason, his rise from early-career struggles during his rookie year to his current status as a stalwart on the New England offensive line has been a very interesting storyline to follow. An early-round choice by the savvy Patriots prior to last season, few people had high expectations for a former option lineman. It’s no surprise to anyone within this fanbase, but Mason’s absurd talent has allowed him to transform into arguably the best offensive lineman on New England’s Super Bowl-bound team despite what many saw as the serious disadvantage of playing under Paul Johnson’s unique system. Good for Shaq, and best of luck to him as his career continues. You know, after he and his teammates hopefully have career-worst games against Atlanta.