The Georgia Tech community received some sad news this afternoon when it was announced that senior safety A.J. Gray and redshirt senior offensive lineman Jake Stickler will both be forced to retire a year early due to medical concerns.
Both Gray and Stickler have played significant snaps for Paul Johnson over the past few seasons, contributing to the team’s 9-win 2016 campaign in the process. Both will remain on scholarship at Georgia Tech as they finish out their degrees.
Defensive back AJ Gray and offensive lineman Jake Stickler are no longer able to play football due to medical issues. They’ll remain on scholarship and continue working towards their @GeorgiaTech degrees. #TogetherWeSwarm https://t.co/TdUhH8BUH6— GeorgiaTech Football (@GeorgiaTechFB) May 7, 2018
Stickler, whose medical situation remains private, played in 8 games as a redshirt sophomore in 2016 before stepping up to contribute even more as a redshirt junior in 2017. He figured to be a key cog in Paul Johnson’s offense once again in 2018 despite sitting out the spring game due to injury.
A.J. Gray, meanwhile, was hands-down the best player on the Georgia Tech defense and figured to be an NFL Draft selection next spring had all gone according to plan. A former all-state quarterback out of Washington County High School, Gray has been the full-time starter at free safety for the past two seasons. A heart condition will end his playing career early, but there’s no doubt that he will go down as one of the best defensive backs of the past decade despite playing just three seasons on the Flats.