You know, sometimes things have a funny way of working out. Back in April, we put together a pretty thorough, over-arching schedule for what the 100 Days to Kickoff would look like. We've done fairly well so far in sticking to it, and recently the articles have all been exactly as planned -- exactly on schedule, without a hitch.
Today, we had a wrench thrown into our operation. See, with the conclusion of the "Five Breakout Players" series, we were set to start a new one today called "Newbies to Watch For" -- basically pointing out new players that you could be seeing quite a bit of this year. Well, as it was scheduled over three months ago, today's article was on Kenderius Whitehead, the defensive end transferring in from Georgia Military College who was a junior college All-American last year and expected to be the #1 pass-rush threat in year one of the post-Attaochu era. Heck, the article was written a week ago by an author who hadn't been able to contribute in a while and was excited to be back in the saddle.
But, as I said, sometimes things have a funny way of working out. News broke after the first practice of camp yesterday that Whitehead would not, in fact, be a "Newbie to Watch For", nor would he be the #1 pass-rush threat in year one of the post-Attaochu area. Unfortunately, what we didn't know back then is that in order to graduate from Georgia Military College with an associate's degree and attain immediate eligibility, Whitehead would have been required to complete an outrageous amount of coursework in a short amount of time. As it turns out, he fell just short of meeting that requirement and will not attain his associate's degree.
Before you panic, what this means is that he is still academically eligible and still officially at Georgia Tech. However, without his associate's degree, Whitehead is now treated like a traditional transfer student, meaning he'll have to sit out a year before playing. What this does is two things. First, it reduces the amount of time Whitehead will be eligible at Tech. (His eligibility still ends at the same time, but now starts next fall instead of this fall.) Second, it creates a lot more uncertainty at the WDE spot on the Yellow Jackets' defensive line. Without Whitehead, the options for a true rush end are now the perennial backup Chaz Cheeks, and two true freshmen in KeShun Freeman and Antonio Simmons. Now, while Cheeks is a seasoned vet and each freshman has received a lot of hype in one form or another, that's still a group that it's tough to be as confident in as you would have been with the more experienced and "proven" Whitehead. Other options that have been discussed are using two SDE's or two WDE's depending on the game situation (which could end up happening) along with the possibility of a 3-3-5 being employed in place of a 4-2-5, although that's probably unlikely.
What I expect will end up happening is that Chaz Cheeks will be the starter for the remainder of camp due to seniority over Simmons and Freeman, but that his job will very much be up for grabs if one (or both) of the freshmen is able to establish himself as a better, more reliable player. I don't think there will be a further change in scheme of any variety -- I just think we'll have to do the best we can with what we've got and see if any of the aforementioned players is able to come in and make an immediate impact.
Disappointed to hear about Whitehead? Who do you think plays at the DE spot opposite Stargel?