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Georgia Tech Football Opinions: My Thoughts on Players Transferring Away

Sometimes a player leaving can be a good thing

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

I’d like to think I’m not a naturally vindictive person, despite what my fiance may say. That said I tend to be a bit overprotective of my sports teams, so watching people just up and leave GT can leave a sour taste in my mouth. Whether that is because I fell betrayed, or because we lack depth at the position, or simply because I’ll miss a player I enjoyed watching is up to interpretation.

Yes, I know their just kids looking for their best prospects for schooling and to make it to the NFL. Yes I know money is on the line with NIL deals being what they are. Yes I know having a new coach will mean plenty of transfers. Yes I know the transfer portal is here to stay and large scale transfers in and out will be a common trend in the future. What can I say, I’m a fan and sometimes that means being irrationally upset about things out of my control.

I guess that was part of why I felt like writing an article about the transfer situation. My initial reaction when people leave is to be upset, but after thinking about things for a bit I have come to realize that most of these separations are for the best for both Georgia Tech and the players.

Please note, I tried my best to find transfer information on all players. Some players are less well known than others so information was sparse. If I did not get their correct transfer school or was unable to find their correct transfer school I apologize.

QB Position - Jeff Sims (transfer to Nebraska) and Taisun Phommachanh (transfer to University of Massachusetts)

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

I really didn’t have a problem with Taisun leaving. I liked the plays I saw from him with some strong running, but it was pretty clear he was only going to be a QB for certain schemes if he stayed. Taisun was not going to get past Gibson or Pyron in the pecking order and now with Haynes King in the running there was not going to be much chance for him to see the field. I think it makes sense for Taisun to try and take a prominent role on a team which could use his talents more regularly.

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Sims, on the other hand, was probably my main inspiration for this whole article. Watching Sims play has sent me through a gamut of emotions I’m not sure I knew I had. Depending on the day, down, and opponent Sims can be the most exciting player to watch or the most frustrating by far. Often times it felt like he was just as likely to throw an interception as he was to throw a passing touchdown. Running the ball was his true talent, but often time he would try to make something happen and accidentally get sacked for a bad loss or fumble.

Regardless, it was true to say that Sims had the most raw talent of any GT QB for quite a long time. Unfortunately it seemed he could never use that talent to consistently win games. Its possible this is because of the talent around him on the field (especially at O-line) but regardless he never seemed to get to the level the fans expected from him.

I went through periods where I defended Sims and periods where I was just done with him. In his last season I was certainly thinking “Let’s try a different starting QB” loudly in my skull. Sims being Geoff Collin’s darling didn’t improve my opinion of Sims, and as my favor with CGC decreased my opinion with Sims also dipped. With Geoff leaving and the injury Jeff suffered leading to some questions about him starting. This came to a head when Sims became “unavailable” to enter the Miami game after Zach Pyron suffered an injury. It felt like Jeff had just quit on the locker room because he felt like he was being replaced as a starting QB. Now, that’s very likely not the full story; but that was how it felt as a fan, and like that I was officially over Jeff Sims.

As the season went on and we saw Zach Gibson and Zach Pyron put up similar numbers statistically to what Sims had achieved; it seemed to justify my feelings that Sims wasn’t as good as first believed and That Sims did not deserve the starting QB position. Now we not only have both Zachs for QB options, we also have a former 4 star recruit in Haynes King from Texas A&M. Given the past few seasons and the talent now available, I think its fair to say that Sims picked the right time to leave. I’m not sure we have a better QB than Sims on the roster, but the guys we do have seem to know how to run the offense with the talent they have just as well as Sims could. We may lose out in talent overall, but I believe the current QBs we have on the roster have shown they deserve a chance at leading the team.

Looking back, Jeff Sims was just trying to do what was best for himself given the situation he was in. I can’t really blame him for looking out for himself, I would probably do the same thing. I do hope things work out for Jeff Sims in Nebraska, but at the same time if I never hear about Jeff Sims again I’ll be ok with it.

WR Position - Nate McCollum (transfer to UNC), Kalani Norris (transfer to Middle Tennessee University) and Ryan King (transfer to Eastern Carolina University)

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech Spring Game Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan King is a shame to lose. I feel like he had the raw talent and size to be a very talented receiver if he was given time. That said, he was in a similar boat to Taisun at QB. King had some chances on the field but never made a big splash and there are now plenty of good wide receivers on the roster with transfers like Dominick Blaylock and Chase Lane on the roster there’s not much reason to expect things to change for Ryan if he stayed at Tech. ECU has been on the up, so I think they could use a talent like King. I am actively rooting for King to show some fireworks for the pirates.

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Central Florida Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Kalani Norris transferred recently and had a drop off in talent over the past season. Kalani had a decent 2021 season, but was unable to do much in 2022. He wasn’t going to get much more out of his 2023 season unless someone got injured so I think Kalani was smart to get out and go to a team that can hopefully use his talents.

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech Lee Luther Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Now we get to what hurts the most. Nate McCollum doesn’t hurt as bad as losing Gibbs last year, but it still feels like being stabbed in the gut. McCollum was, approximately, 14 of our total receiving yds last year and also found time to run for 56 yds and a touchdown. McCollum was someone Brent Key fought hard to keep, but I think Nate knew his worth. I can’t blame a guy for wanting to make some extra NIL money while he can and bumping up his draft chances.

Nate never seemed to stop putting in effort so I don’t have the negative feelings for Nate that I did for Sims. Still, I kind of wish he had picked a team to transfer to that we don’t have to play every year. Seeing Nate lineup for UNC is going to be a tough ride for me, especially if Drake May make a Heisman run this year. This change of scenery will certainly give Nate a better chance at being drafted, and I am hoping to see him play in the pros in the future.

LB Position - Demetrius Knight (transfer to Charlotte), and Khatavian Franks (transfer location TBD)

Khatavian Franks did what he had to do. Khatavian had been at GT for 3 years and not played a down, dude had to try going somewhere he could play if he wanted to keep playing football. I guess you could question why Khatavian didn’t stay to finish his degree, but I totally get him leaving.

NCAA Football: Clemson at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Demetrius Knight confused me though. With Eley and Thomas gone Knight was one of the likely starters at linebacker. He likely had personal reasons for leaving, or was just frustrated with the direction the team was going in, but I wish he had stayed. Honestly I was really looking forward to seeing Knight ball out this year, but I guess I’ll have to watch him do that with Charlotte.

Georgia Tech has some talented transfers coming in this year similar to Ace Eley a few years ago. This time it will be Braelin Oliver and Andre White Jr. coming in to prove themselves. These guys are both larger and have better ratings than Knight, so I expect them to do well at linebacker. As such I don’t expect to miss Knight too much, except on a personal level of wanting him to continue developing with Georgia Tech.

OL Position - Paula Vaipulu (transfer to University of North Texas), and Ryan Adams (transfer to Unniversity of Memphis)

I’m kind of mixed on these losses. If you read FTRS articles much, you will know we don’t have a great feeling about the O-line situation. We need as much talent as we can get because blocking has been a struggle. As such, its really hard to watch talent on the O-line leave, knowing we don’t really have talent to replace them. At the same time though, maybe fresh faces at the O-line are what we need to improve. We do have some new talent and transfers coming in at O-line which will likely leave us at least in the same situation we had previously, but its still a tough pill to swallow.

DL/EDGE Position - Akelo Stone (transfer to Ole Miss), KJ Miles (transfer to Temple) and Gray Carroll (transfer to Liberty)

KJ Miles and Gray Carroll were both talented recruits, but neither put up stats so far in the GT tenure so I don’t have much to say about them. GT tends to cycle linemen on the defensive side pretty frequently so I think these guys would have gotten playing time this year had they stayed, but maybe not the amount of time they desired. I hope things work out for them at Temple and Liberty.

NCAA Football: Miami at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Akelo Stone was supposed to be a big time player this year, but it looks like he is aiming for more NIL money and a chance at being drafted in the future by going to a big SEC contender in Ole Miss. I am disappointed in Akelo leaving, but I am also hoping for the best for Akelo.

CB/Safety Position - Zamari Walton (transfer to Ole Miss), Kenny Bennett (transfer location TBD), Derrik Allen (transfer to UNC), Jeremiah Smith (transfer location TBD), and Jalen Huff (transfer to Florida Atlantic University)

We obviously have alot of transfers into and from the CB and Safety position this year. I’m not going to touch on all of these guys, most of them are another case of players who cycle frequently and are maybe looking for better playing time and better NIL deals.

Syndication: The Clarion-Ledger Bruce Newman / Special to The Clarion Ledger / USA TODAY NETWORK

Zamari Walton and Derrik Allen are the hardest losses here. I wouldn’t say either were the biggest stars on defense, but they were talented players who made big contributions. Walton and Allen are both going to talented Power 5 teams in Ole Miss and UNC, so it should be pretty easy to keep up with these guys on TV.
Honestly I think we’ll be fine in the defensive secondary, at lease as good as we were last year so I don’t really have any strong feelings on the players leaving. Also, can we at least talk our transfers out of going to UNC?

RB Position - Dylan McDuffie (transfer to Charlotte) and Antonio Martin (transfer location TBD)

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

McDuffie and Martin are once again the same situation as the CB group. Dylan and Antonio were both talented but did not see much playing time due to the depth at RB. I think it is a good thing for them to move on, it won’t change much for us on the team.

TE Position - Ben Postma (transfer Location TBD)

Being completely honest, I did not know of Ben Postma until I googled which players had transferred from GT. I must assume Ben is making this decision in his best interest. Good luck to him.

K Position - Jude Kelley (transfer to Chattanooga)

This one doesn’t bother me at all. Unless there is an injury we only really have room for one kicker. Its pretty clear that Gavin Stewart is going to be that kicker, so it makes sense for Jude to look for a place where he can get more playing time while finishing his degree.

Despite my initial frustration with some bigger name players leaving, looking over the list of transfers out compared to transfers in I can’t be all that upset. If anything this should set us up with about the same talent as we had last year if not slightly better. I think overall the players did what was best for them and GT is not too much worse for the wear.

Georgia Tech is never going to be a glut for talent, especially not in the transfer portal age, but it seems like the coaches have done a good job at anticipating needs and replacing the talent we lost (except maybe at O-line).

It will always be sad and frustrating to see players go, but like Jahmyr Gibbs last year I understand that players gotta give themselves the best opportunity (I’m pretty sure Gibbs wasn’t gonna be a #12 pick coming from GT, but who knows). I wish all our transfers the best of luck (except when they’re playing GT) and look forward to seeing what our new transfers can do. GO JACKETS!!!