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Georgia Tech Football: Meet the Newcomers - Offensive Tackle

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Help is coming for the present and future at offensive tackle

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 27 Vanderbilt at Arkansas Photo by Andy Altenburger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In our look at the offense during last month’s advanced stats season review, we highlighted Eric Eager’s theory that offensive line is an “And” position, where one of the most important factors is having no weak links along the front. The Georgia Tech staff, particularly OL coach Brent Key, continues to work towards that goal. Today, we will look at the three offensive tackles he is bringing in this fall to continue shoring up what has been perhaps the weakest unit on the team the past two seasons.

Jakiah Leftwich

Jakiah Leftwich was part of the wave of commitments that GT received last May, officially announcing his commitment on May 22, 2020:

He joins fellow Westlake alum Leo Blackburn in the 2020 class, and he committed to GT over reported P5 offers from places like Arizona State, FSU, Indiana, Iowa State, Minnesota, Mississippi State, South Carolina, and Tennessee. He’s got the prototypical tackle size and frame, currently checking in at 6-6, 302 lbs. Leftwich was a consensus 3 star prospect, and he was rated 5.6 on Rivals, 86 on 247, and 86.1 in the 247 composite.

His senior film shows how effectively he was able to use his physical dominance in opening holes in the run game and defending the quarterback’s blindside at Westlake.

The film shows a litany of pancake blocks, as Leftwich used a good punch to physically manhandle many of his opponents. As he comes under Coach Key’s tutelage, he will continue to work on his footwork and quickness. Especially with Devin Cochran arriving this fall, Leftwich has the perfect opportunity to redshift this year, work on his agility and technique, and make his case in 2022 to be the left tackle of the future for GT.

Devin Cochran

Once thought to be an exciting addition to the 2020 GT roster, Devin Cochran committed to Tech as a grad transfer back on January 26th, 2020, but he will make his debut on the Flats this coming fall. Checking in at 6-7 and 317 lbs and having started 32 games at Vanderbilt at both tackle positions, Cochran brings experience and physicality to Georgia Tech that are badly needed. You’ll recall how we discussed Cochran’s impressive performance at left tackle for Vanderbilt in 2019. He appears on this list with several offensive lineman now filling up NFL rosters:

Most players put out highlight tapes that are obviously edited accordingly, but I found it interesting to watch this film of Vanderbilt’s offensive line from the Notre Dame game in 2018. It features every offensive play from the game, and tracking Cochran, who started at right tackle, shows an impressive performance that stands out given the talent mismatch in ND’s favor at so many spots across the field. Cochran has played and stood up to the best of the best. He’s almost assured to start this fall at left tackle for Georgia Tech, and his presence will go a long way in shoring up one of those weak links from 2020.

Kenneth Kirby

The latest addition to the offensive tackle position group is Kenneth Kirby, who announced his intentions to grad transfer from Norfolk State to Georgia Tech just last week.

Kirby’s quick feet jump off of the tape, a trait that is sure to help Kirby make an impact in pass blocking and zone run blocking situations. Brent Key will continue to work with him on refining his technique and matching the physicality of ACC defensive linemen, but this seems like a pickup designed to help raise the floor for GT’s offensive line. Most likely, he will challenge Jordan Williams for the RT spot, and if Williams is able to hold him off, that is only good news for his development.

Conclusion

This fall, the makeover of the offensive line room will be almost entirely complete since the new staff came on board. Georgia Tech will add two experienced offensive tackles who will certainly compete to start at both outside spots, while enabling Jakiah Leftwich plenty of time to develop as he prepares to play a key role in the future. Coach Key has done good work in raising the floor of the OL with these additions, and offensive improvement in 2021 looks a lot more likely after bringing these guys on board.