Georgia Tech fans will be happy to see that we haven’t lost too much talent at the safety position going into 2021. With the two starters at safety in Juanyeh Thomas and Tariq Carpenter returning the real question for the safety position is who will fill the reserve spots. Avery Showell has left for the transfer portal which is a bit of a loss and Jaytlin Askew has graduated, but Jaylon King and Derrik Allen both has experience in the reserve spot at safety and should be able to fill in as necessary. The real question for Geoff Collins comes in the form of two talented freshmen, Kaleb Edwards and Sirad Bryant, who could potentially steal a reserve spot if they perform well enough.
Last year Avery had the 10th most tackles on the team with 24 total tackles and a fumble recovery on the season. Avery is currently in the transfer portal and will be seeking to achieve more playing time at another school. While Avery was not the largest contributor on defense, he was a talented individual who will be missed.
Jaytlin Askew has graduated and is currently on the Miami Dolphins roster as a corner back. Good for him, Miami is a nice place. Definitely better than being drafted by the Jets.
Juanyeh Thomas #1 - 6’3” 220 lbs: Juanyeh is technically in his Junior year (COVID making things weird), but has been a player with Georgia Tech since 2018 and a starter since his Sophomore year in 2019. Juanyeh started all 10 games in 2020 leading all defensive backs in tackles with 59 total. Juanyeh also focused on taking the ball away, tallying 2 forced fumbles, and 1 interception last year. According to some interviews Juanyeh has provided in the offseason, it sounds like he is aware of some minor mistakes he made in the 2020 season (in particular body positioning on the field) and is working to improve on those mistakes. Juanyeh will definitely be a starter this year and will be the highlight of the Georgia Tech defensive secondary squad.
Tariq Carpenter #2 – 6’4” 226 lbs: Tariq is another safety with a long history at Georgia Tech, and a name that many fans are familiar with. Tariq has been a starter since his Sophomore year in 2018 and has regularly put up good stats, reaching career highs in total tackles in 2019. Last year Tariq had a bit of a drop off following wrist surgery he underwent on both his wrists, his season ended with only 39 total tackles, 2 tackles for a loss, and 1 interception. This offseason Tariq has worked with coach Lewis Caralla to get back to a healthy state, losing weight and trying to regain his physicality. Tariq decided to come back as a “super-senior” this year because he expects 2021 to be a special season for the Jackets and he is putting in the work he can to make that a reality.
Jaylon King #14 – 6’1” 195 lbs: Jaylon King is a Red Shirt Sophomore who has played a role in the reserve safety spot since 2019. Jaylon played 8 games last year providing the team with 9 total tackles and 1 tackle for a loss. Unfortunately Jaylon fell off the Above the Line chart at the end of last year before the game at NC State. Jaylon is a hard worker, and with Geoff Collins bringing in new talent at the safety position Jaylon will need to prove he deserves a role at safety despite his experience. Barring injuries to Juanyeh or Tariq, Jaylon will be going against Kaleb Edwards and Sirad Bryant for reserve spots at the safety position.
Derrik Allen #18 – 6’2” 213 lbs: Derrik transferred from Notre Dame in 2019, coming back to the Atlanta area where he once played at Lassiter High School in Marietta, Georgia. Currently a Red Shirt Sophomore, Derrik began to see his first college playing time last year as a reserve safety. He accumulated 12 total tackles over the course of the 8 games he played in. Derrik has been recognized by his teammates for his intelligence and speed on the field. Side note, nothing to do with football, I love Derrik’s twitter handle of @DsmoothAllen. Derrik should see an increase in playing time this year and will likely fall into a starter position next season.
Kaleb Edwards #22 – 6’0” 200 lbs: Kaleb is a true freshman coming out of Dacula Georgia. Kaleb was ranked as the # 22 prospect in the nation at the safety position by Rivals upon his graduation from Highschool. Kaleb has gotten a lot of hype from his teammates coming into the year. In media interviews with Juanyeh Thomas and Tariq Carpenter, both teammates have commented on Kaleb’s maturity and intelligence on and off the field. Kaleb seems to be in line to be one of the next long term starters at Georgia Tech in 2022. With this being 2021 and not 2022 Geoff Collins may need to put some thought into whether it would be better to redshirt Kaleb or to allow Kaleb to start gaining experience as a reserve at the position for the future. I expect to see Kaleb on the field at least a few times this season, and depending on how Collins feels about Kaleb’s performance we may seem Kaleb making regular appearances as a reserve on the field.
Sirad Bryant – 6’2” 200 lbs: Sirad is another talented freshman at the Safety position. Sirad played both wide receiver and safety at Crisp County High School in Cordele, Georgia and is the brother of Big Kat Bryant who plays on the defensive line for Auburn (I bring that up purely as an excuse for me to use the name Big Kat). Sirad was ranked as the #49 safety in the nation by 247sports, he has a sharp mind and is quick to analyze and make adjustments on the fly. Sirad could see time as another reserve player at the safety position, but this is dependent on the performance of Jaylon King and Derrik Allen. Given that the sport Sirad would be playing for is a backup spot, Sirad would need to seriously outperform one of the more experienced players to move up only to play limited downs for the defense. Maybe the fact that ramblinwreck.com has also not assigned him a jersey number at the time of this article, but I feel it is likely that Sirad will be redshirted this season.
Have no doubts, this year will be the Juanyeh and Tariq show at safety. No one is going to take their spots, and both J&T are making moves to make sure their performance this year outpaces everything else they have done on the field to this point. The talent at the reserve spots are more in question. Knowing Geoff Collins I expect him to play the more experienced played in Jaylon King and Derrik Allen unless they stop performing to expectations. We may see some playtime from Kaleb Edwards, but there will be some serious consideration about redshirting both him and Sirad Bryant for the time being.