It’s no secret that Tech’s defense took a pretty big step back in 2020. What was most disappointing for me last year was how poorly the secondary played. Moving into his senior season, Juanyeh Thomas has a chance to turn things around on Georgia Tech’s defense. Not only that, but Thomas could also play a major role in recruiting this season.
Let’s actually start with recruiting.
Thomas’ little brother, Azareyah Thomas, will complete his senior season of college football this season at Niceville High School. He also happens to be rated as a four-star recruit by both Rivals (5.9) and the 247 Sports Composite (0.9581) and is a top 100 player by both services.
I can’t find a list of top schools that Azareyah has put out himself, but 247 has schools listed as increased interest: Florida, Clemson, LSU.....and Georgia Tech. Were he to commit, he would instantly become the top-ranked commit in the class and the highest-rated commit since Jahmyr Gibbs (both according to 247).
While it is wholly Azareyeh’s decision, Juanyeh is certainly in a position to influence as his brother. If nothing else, Juanyeh is able to give Azareyeh an inside look on what to expect at Tech, something he wouldn’t get in the same way with the other schools that hold his interest.
Azareyeh is set to make his official visit to Georgia Tech this coming weekend. He previously visited Florida last weekend and has an official visit planned for June 18 at LSU.
Looking at how Juanyeh Thomas can impact the defense, let’s take a look at some of his numbers from last season. Thomas has 59 tackles, three forced fumbles and an interception.
As a whole defense, Georgia Tech graded out near or below average in most of the advanced categories.
The two areas where Tech ranked above average were opponent offensive busted drive rate (DBD) and opponent offensive turnover rate (DTO), both of which Thomas can have a major impact on.
Thomas is in prime position to help both of these metrics continue to improve, whether it be excelling in coverage (Thomas deflected two passes last season) or causing turnovers (Thomas intercepted one pass and forced three fumbles last season).
Looking at Robert’s defensive advanced stats review from January, the passing range that truly killed Tech was the 7-8 yard range, which is typically linebacker range, but can stretch back to the safety range. Georgia Tech will already be playing new linebackers with David Curry off to the NFL, so a lot of the onus for improvement will be on the safeties, as they have more experience.
The talent is there for Thomas, and with mostly new players at linebacker, he will have an opportunity to continue to be a leader on this defense, which could help improve those defensive numbers.