What would typically be fairly small news was released on Thursday, though it ends up being a huge deal for the Yellow Jacket football team. Rising senior Jamal Golden received a "medical hardship" for the 2013 season, basically resulting in it being considered a redshirt season, after a shoulder injury in the North Carolina game sidelined him for the season.
THE FLATS - Georgia Tech's Jamal Golden, who was one of the nation's top return specialists in 2012, has received a medical hardship waiver from the NCAA, basically replacing a 2013 season lost to injury.
Golden, who played as a true freshman in 2011 and earned honorable mention All-ACC honors as a sophomore in 2012 as a specialist, suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the third game of the 2013 season against North Carolina. With the waiver, the Wetumpka (Ala.) product enters the 2014 season as a junior with two seasons of eligibility remaining.
"While we anticipated that Jamal would receive the waiver, I am happy for him," head coach Paul Johnson said. "I know it was difficult for him to watch from the sidelines last season, but he has worked hard to get healthy and he is eager to get started again this spring."
As a sophomore in 2012, Golden was the only player to rank in the top 10 nationally in both punt return average (6th/14.59) and kick return average (10th/28.35). Golden was named Tech's special teams player of the year and earned specialist of the game honors in the 2012 Hyundai Sun Bowl victory over Southern California.
Prior to the 2012 season no Georgia Tech player had returned a kickoff for a touchdown since 1998, yet Golden returned two kicks for TDs - one in a win over North Carolina and a second in a home loss to BYU.
As a member of the Yellow Jacket secondary, Golden has seen action at safety, cornerback and nickel.
Golden has been cleared to participate in spring practice, which begins March 24th.
This is a big deal with Golden being one of Tech's biggest playmakers, not only in the secondary but also on the team as a whole. This year he will be returning to the secondary along with Isaiah Johnson, instantly providing a big relief to a unit that was very depleted last season, before losing Jemea Thomas and Louis Young to graduation.
Golden also comes back as a return man, solidifying the return unit that was a bit of a rotating door in 2013. All that, not to mention that he's the best return man Georgia Tech has had since Jerrard Tarrant and possibly before that. Having two years of Golden's service is a big deal to this team, and something fans everywhere should be very excited about.
Excited to have Golden back for two full years? As he gains more experience, will he be even better than he's been? Excited to have him and Johnson back in the secondary this year?