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Georgia Tech Football: Tracking Opponent Underclassmen who Declared Early

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TaxSlayer Bowl - Mississippi State v Louisville Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

With the 2018 Schedule released along with the NFL’s official list of underclassmen who declared for the Draft, it’s time to take a look to see where the two intersect. Which players will Tech be spared from facing in 2018?

Pitt

  • WR Quadree Henderson
  • OT Brian O’Neill
  • S Jordan Whitehead

Pitt took a big hit with their early losses at key positions after a poor season, which could stymie a rebound following a strong final game of the season. Henderson was the biggest speed threat on the team, and scored a punt return TD against Tech. Yes, O’Neill is that guy, and that’s all that needs to be said about him. Whitehead is the biggest loss. A potential Day 2 pick, he played on both sides of the ball and had a long run during Pitt’s first drive against Tech this year.

Clemson

  • WR Deon Cain
  • OG Taylor Hearn
  • WR Ray-Ray McCloud
  • S Van Smith

The story with Clemson isn’t the guys who declared, but those who didn’t. Three projected first rounders on the DL, and they all decided to stay. OT Mitch Hyatt, who could have been a 2nd day pick, stayed as well. It’s almost as if the players who should have declared didn’t, and those who should have stayed left. This just further reinforces my assertion that Clemson is a cult.

Louisville

  • QB Lamar Jackson
  • CB Jaire Alexander
  • OT Geron Christian

The biggest name on this list by far is former Heisman winner Lamar Jackson. Most expected him to leave, but it’s reassuring to know that Tech won’t have to face him. He was Louisville’s entire team this year, and it will be interesting to see what they can do next year without him. CB Jaire Alexander was perhaps the team’s best defender as well.

Virginia Polytechnic and State University

  • S Terrell Edmunds
  • LB Tremaine Edmunds
  • DT Tim Settle

The Edmunds brothers have been a key part of Bud Foster’s defense over the last couple years. Tremaine has been particularly special, and is currently projected by many analysts as a first round pick. Settle was a bit of a surprise declaration, but Tech fans won’t miss seeing him in the middle of that defense.

North Carolina

  • LB Andre Smith

UNC was so young this year, they didn’t have many players eligible to even declare early, and I was surprised to see them on this list at all. Andre Smith was a starter at MLB before having a season ending injury this year, and likely doesn’t want to get injured again in college. It will be a tough road for him to get drafted, however.

Miami

  • DT RJ McIntosh
  • DT Kendrick Norton
  • RB Mark Walton

Miami losing two talented defenders in the middle is big news for Tech, as Norton in particular was a game wrecker for any offense predicated on running the ball. Tech didn’t face Walton this year due to an injury, but it’s good to know they won’t next year, as he is a special talent that may get lost in the depth of this draft’s RB class.

georgia

  • LB Roquan Smith
  • DT/DE Trenton Thompson

Kirby Smart’s defense is going to be rebuilding in a major way this year. That side of the ball was loaded with seniors already, but these losses will compound the rebuilding effort. Smith is no surprise, as he is currently being mock drafted in the top 10. Thompson was a bit more of a surprise. He was part of a deep 4-man rotation at DE, so his loss will not be felt like Smith’s. This team has recruited well the past 2 years, so reloading shouldn’t be a gargantuan effort, but a lot of that recruiting has been on the offensive side of the ball. Will they be able to replicate last year’s success with such a young defense?