With the hire of Dave Patenaude as OC, Georgia Tech will pivot from the Flexbone to an up-tempo spread. With the change, the QB will be asked to make more reads from the pocket and make a larger variety of throws effectively and on time. Running ability will be valued, as Patenaude has stated that he plans to involve the QB in the run game, but from here forward throwing ability will be more heavily scrutinized when scouting Georgia Tech Quarterbacks. We’ll discuss footwork, velocity, timing, and ball placement with each of these new Tech QBs in this article.
Jordan Yates (6-0, 186 lbs.)
Having Jordan Yates already committed was tremendous fortune for Coach Collins and his staff. Yates may have originally committed to play in the flexbone, but his best fit is in a spread scheme.
Yates may be undersized, but he still puts great velocity on the ball and can execute a wide variety of throws to different sections of the field. During the Georgia Class 7A state championship game in December, he showed off his deep ball, but also executed a series of quick-release slant routes against a formidable pass rush. He executed both types of throws with great ball placement and velocity. Yates is also exceptional at throwing while on the run, which may or may not be required early on during his career.
What is striking about Yates is how well he understands the small details in a way that many high school QBs do not. He has a firm grasp on all the offensive concepts in his system, and it shows. His ball placement is impeccable. He understands each route his receivers are running and where the DB should be, thus knowing exactly where to place the ball so that only his man can get it. He knows when to drive the ball and when to use touch.
Most importantly, he understands route combinations and how they are used to attack different coverages. In his film, there is one example that stands out. The play starts at the 2:41 mark in the above video. The defense is in cover 3, and the called play is attacking it with a modified Sail Concept. The Sail Concept is commonly used to attack such coverages, and Yates understands how to execute it perfectly. he first looks to the flat route to draw the LB and S covering the shallow zones down to that route. By drawing them forward, the second-level route in the concept, in this case a crossing route, can easily find a soft spot in the zone. This level of understanding how how to create separation for his receivers through his pre-throw actions is exceptional for a high schooler.
As a runner, Yates shows exceptional burst and fluidity. His speed is just ok, but he was originally recruited into the Option for a reason. He clears his feet well from tackles, and while he won’t run over anyone, he can easily slip through arm tackles.
Yates will sometimes shorten up his follow through or let his feet switch on release, which doesn’t let him tap into all his arm strength. If he can clean that aspect of his game up, he’ll be even better.
Demetrius Knight (6-2, 220 lbs.)
Knight is an interesting study. He may move from QB to another position (he could play several), but he will try out QB first.
Knight has a great frame and is an exceptional athlete. Playing at a Class 1A high school in Georgia, he was often on another level compared to his competition, so his coaches chose to run him frequently. As a runner, Knight is bendy and can clear his feet from ankle tackles with ease. He has good burst and speed, and he supposedly timed well at Tech’s camp.
As a passer, Knight has some raw skills, but will need time to refine them if he stays at the position. His ball velocity is ok, and his frame could add more strength as he grows. He does throw consistently at all depth levels, but his ball placement is not at the level of Yates. Sometimes throws will be short or behind; this seems to be a timing issue, which is correctable. Ultimately, there needs to be more passing film on Knight to make a good judgement of how he will develop in these areas.
Knight’s brilliance lies in his ability to be versatile, something that Coach Collins values. If Knight moves from QB, he could play wide receiver, linebacker, or safety depending on how he develops. That versatility will help him find the field wherever he is needed—which might be sooner than expected.
Let me know if you have any questions about Yates, Knight, or any other aspect of this class. This series will continue tomorrow with Ben discussing the TEs!