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Georgia Tech Football: Position Previews - Offensive Line

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Still a work in progress, but there is progress

NCAA Football: Pittsburgh at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest transition for the Yellow Jackets happened in the trenches last fall. The scheme change was massive, but the offensive line had a complete overhaul of technique and philosophy as well. Most of the players from last year return, and some strong candidates to play are arriving on campus this year as well. Spring football being cancelled was a huge detriment to this unit, the more chances to gain reps and practice, the further along they would be in the re-invention.

Returning Players

Kenny Cooper – 6-3 317 R-Senior

Cooper is the most experienced returning player for the Jackets. He has played in 31 games, with 23 starts in his four years on the Flats. Cooper has played both guard and center for the Jackets and looks to have the inside track to start at one of the two. He is coming off an injury that limited him to four games last season but allowed him to redshirt and come back this year. He will be a leader on the offensive line this fall.

Jack Defoor – 6-5 305 R-Senior

Defoor is another experienced player the Jackets can lean on this fall in the trenches. After transferring from Ole Miss, Defoor played in nine games in 2018 and followed that up with playing in all 12 games last fall, starting 11 of them. Defoor will be the day one starter at one of the guard positions.

Zach Quinney – 6-6 295 R-Junior

Since redshirting in his first year on the Flats, Quinney has been a reliable part of the Tech offensive line. He has played in 25 games, starting 24 of them. Quinney will start at one of the tackle positions this fall.

Mikey Minihan – 6-3 297 R-Junior

Minihan played in eight games last season, starting six of them. He spent most of his time playing guard but can play center as well. His versatility will give him a chance as a rotational piece for the Jackets this fall.

William Lay II – 6-2 305 R-Junior

Lay is a former walk-on who stepped up to start eight games last season at center. Lay played well last season and should be in the competition for playing time this fall.

Michael Maye – 6-3 310 R-Soph

Maye played in ten games last fall and looks to be a depth or rotational piece this fall.

Austin Smith – 6-5 295 R-Soph

Smith played in five games last season and looks to be a depth or rotational piece this fall.

New Faces

Transfers

Once again, the Jackets went to the SEC transfer well to help bolster the offensive line. Tech brought in two players who will be starters and integral to the success of the offense this fall.

Ryan Johnson – 6-6 310 R-Senior, transfer from Tennessee

Johnson is an experienced graduate transfer from Tennessee. He played in 36 games at Tennessee, starting 19 of them. He played mostly at center and guard. His debut playing time came against the Jackets in the 2017 Chick-Fil-A kickoff game. He will be the other starting guard, opposite Defoor.

Devin Cochran – 6-7 320, Transfer from Vanderbilt

The Jackets again will look to a graduate transfer from Vanderbilt to help anchor the offensive line. Cochran started 32 games during his career at Vandy. Cochran will be the starter at left tackle for the Jackets, allowing Quinney to shift to right tackle.

Freshman

After not signing any OL players in the 2019 class, the Jackets loaded up on them in 2020 class. Three of these signees were spring enrollees and went through the abbreviated spring practice

Michael Rankins – 6-5 295, 535th Nationally, 73rd in Florida, 43rd Tackle

Rankins is the highest rated of Tech’s offensive line signees. He was an early enrollee this spring. Rankins is the best bet for a freshman to earn playing time.

Jordan Williams – 6-6 310, 559th Nationally, 60th in Georgia, 44th Tackle

Williams is a tall and long tackle from Gainesville, Georgia. He was also an early enrollee this spring. He is another lineman in the new prototype size that the Jackets are looking for.

Paula Vaipulu – 6-3 305, 775th Nationally, 97th in Texas, 18th Center

Vaipulu is another big bodied, tall and long lineman. He may get a long look at center, with Cooper being a senior.

Wing Green – 6-7 285, 948th Nationally, 100th in Georgia, 76th Tackle

Green was a late blooming player, not becoming a full-time starter at Lee country until this past season. He is a raw player but has the size length that we are looking for.

Ryan Spiers – 6-3 285, 54th in Mississippi, 146th Guard

Spiers was the third player to enroll early in the spring.

Conclusion

The Tech offensive line is still a work in progress. Losing out on a full spring practice hurts the progress of the offense. If I had to pick a starting line, I would go with this one.

Cochran – Johnson – Cooper – Defoor – Quinney