If you take a glance at the current football roster, a key takeaway should be that there is exactly one player who was originally recruited to play in a scheme even close to the one we’ll see this season: Jared Southers. It shouldn’t give you the warm fuzzies that there will be such a huge learning curve all the way across the line, but it isn’t the end of the world either — especially with Southers fortuitously in the mix.
A graduate transfer from Vanderbilt, Southers doesn’t bring much in the way of starting experience to Tech; he participated in a career-low 6 games in 2018 after playing in 10 and 11 games in 2016 and 2017, respectively. He has made a handful of starts in his career, all coming at the beginning of the 2017 season, but will be as valuable for his relative scheme fit as for his past on-field accomplishments.
It’s easy to see how Southers ended up at his position given that he measures in at 6-foot-5 and 310 pounds at last weigh-in, dwarfing the rest of the likely contributors on Tech’s 2019 offensive line. Size like that was lacking for the entirety of the Paul Johnson era given the triple option’s need for speed above all other traits, but Geoff Collins has shown already that Tech is going the opposite way as soon as possible. In fact, that’s part of why Southers is virtually guaranteed to be an impact player regardless of his development this offseason — there’s nowhere else to turn if Tech hopes to field an offensive line that can stack up to ACC competition even from a physical standpoint. It’s hard to point to specific skills given his lack of playing time relative to most seniors, but the physical tools are there for Southers to be a standout player.
In short, watch for Southers to shuttle around the line while Brent Key and the coaching staff seek out his most natural position. He was used some as a blocking tight end late in his Vanderbilt days, but expect the grad transfer to spend all of his time where he’s most needed at Tech: on the currently undersized offensive line. If he and Key have worked on mobility and footwork together, Southers could be a great swan song season indeed.