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Georgia Tech Football: Position Previews - Slot

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The Slot position has turned over, but it’s in good hands

NCAA Football: Wisconsin at Northwestern David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The slot wide receiver position will look more different in 2021 than any other position on the Georgia Tech roster. 2 guys took almost all of the snaps at slot last year, and they’re both gone. One true freshman returns, and three newcomers look to take advantage of ample opportunity before them.

Who is gone?

Ahmarean Brown - 11 catches for 183 yards and 1 touchdown in 2020

2019’s breakout offensive weapon did not have the 2020 he hoped for, and he elected to transfer to South Carolina. Brown’s target share decreased last year, as he struggled to find his rhythm with Jeff Sims. It’s a disappointing loss, but I expect his lost production to be easily replaced this fall.

Josh Blancato - no receiving stats in 2020

The walk-on filled in admirably in Brown’s late season absence, but he was not able to provide any significant contribution in the passing game. He elected not to use his extra year of eligibility, and we wish him well in the future!

Who is back?

Nate McCollum - 5-11, 185 pounds, FR., 2 catches for 15 yards in 2020

A member of the 2020 recruiting class out of Dutchtown HS, McCollum appeared in 6 games during his true freshman season. He gained some helpful on-field experience that should help launch him into a much expanded role this fall. During the spring game, he was targeted twice: first on a deep ball that barely missed and then later on a beautiful catch and run that he took for a 37 yard score from Chayden Peery. He flashed outstanding quickness and athleticism that should earn him significant snaps in 2021.

ATL? - YES

Who is new?

Kryic McGowan - 5-11, 205 pounds, Sr., 34 catches for 366 yards, 141 rushing yards for Northwestern in 2020

Unless you’re brand new to FTRS, you’ve heard how high I am on McGowan. He had almost 50 offensive touches for Northwestern in just 8 games last season, and I expect Coach Patenaude to try and get that number closer to 100 this fall. I’ve identified him as my breakout player for 2021, with high hopes of him being “the guy” that Jeff Sims relies on, especially in those crucial third and medium opportunities where someone needs to make a catch in a tight space.

ATL? - YES

Jamal Haynes - 5-9, 175 pounds, Fr.

Jamal Haynes is part of the Grayson High School pipeline to Georgia Tech. A member of the 2021 class who enrolled this summer, Haynes was rated as a 5.6 3 star on Rivals and an 86.06 in the 247 composite. Over his prep career, he racked up 97 receptions for 1,417 yards and 10 touchdowns, as well as 202 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. He’s a football player who knows how to use space and finish plays for tough yards. The strength and condition program will benefit Haynes, but he’s likely to see the field as a true freshman.

ATL? - by the end of the year

Malik Rutherford - 5-9, 165 pounds, Fr.

The first commit of the 2021 class, Rutherford comes to Atlanta from Champagnat Catholic High in Miami where he helped propel his team to three straight state championship games. Rated a 5.7 3 star on Rivals and an 86.88 in the 247 composite, Rutherford collected more than 30 catches for 500 yards and seven touchdowns as a senior. He’s a gifted athlete who may see the field in the return game as well as in 4 wide situations.

ATL? - by the end of the year

The slot room looks completely different than it did a year ago, but it’s in much better shape. There’s a reliable senior leader and three freshmen with diverse athletic gifting and a lot of upside. I expect the production from the slot to multiply greatly from what it was last year, and this will become a source of great security for Jeff Sims in 2021.