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Back Seat Coachin’: The running back room

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With coach Tashard Choice, Jordan Mason and Jahmyr Gibbs all heading out of Atlanta, let’s look at who is in the RB Room in ‘22.

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Virginia Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets will have a new running backs coach and a new room of players in 2022. Part of the Geoff Collins staff re-arrangement came with the departures of Jahmyr Gibbs (transfer) and Jordan Mason (NFL Draft).

However, Jamious Griffin has pulled his name from the transfer portal, four-star back Antonio Martin Jr. signed with the Jackets, and Collins hired Buffalo RB coach Mike Daniels to lead the room. Three-star RB Jamie Felix also came on board during Early Signing Day period as well.


Griffin

Griffin is a former four-star prospect that was one of the first ‘big name’ signings of the Collins Administration. A Georgia native from Rome, GA, Griffin, is five-foot-ten, 205 pounds. During the 2020 COVID season, Griffin averaged 4.9 yards per carry with two touchdowns in seven games. Griffin also averaged 15.3 yards per catch. In ‘21, Griffin decided to take a redshirt to preserve another season of eligibility.

Griffin is a hard runner who excelled more in the gap scheme than zone scheme. What you’ll notice with Martin is that he shares a running style with Griffin. Both backs are ‘one cut and go’ types who do well following lead blockers on trap, power, and pin-pull.

Griffin has soft hands in the screen and swing game, which adds an additional bonus.


Martin Jr.

Antonio Martin Jr. is Tech’s highest rated player through ESD. Martin is a four-star prospect that’s rated just outside of the ESPN 300 at 306th in the country. At five-foot-eleven, 205 pounds Martin and Griffin are similarly built backs, with that ground and pound running style. Both use a stiff arm and lowered shoulder to their advantage.

What flashes on Martin’s tape (below) is how hard the young back is to bring down on initial contact. His tape is one broken tackle and yard after contact after another. Physical toughness is a talent that is important to see in backs, especially in this style of offense where the onus is on hard running between the tackles.

The only issue for Martin is there aren’t many pass protection or pass reception highlights on his tape. I’m going out on a limb to assume a back built like Martin can provide that pass protection that Gibbs did for the Jackets.


Felix

Jamie Felix is a three-star prospect out of Georgia who is ranked the 35th best RB in the nation. Felix comes to GT from Camden County High School where they ran a wing-t offense. While Martin ran an offense extremely similar to what Chip Long will want to run in Atlanta, Felix will have a larger learning curve.

However, while Martin and Griffin use a more bruising, ‘between the tackles’ style, Felix brings elite speed to the 404 backfield. Felix also could be the answer to replace Gibbs at kick returner. On Felix highlight tape (below), there are dynamic kick returns and Felix is speed on speed.


The Sting

Replacing an explosive play machine like Gibbs won’t be easy for Collins staff in ‘22. If you needed a big TD reception, game changing kick return, or explosive run, Collins has called on Gibbs for the past two seasons.

Griffin and Martin may not provide that explosive TD time and again like Gibbs. However, if the Jackets can get Felix coached up and in a role as the kick returner, and also on the edge in their jet game, plus Griffin as the receiving threat Gibbs was, I can see the new OC Chip Long having fun with these three in the RB Room.