It's been a tough offseason for Georgia Tech fans. It's seemed as though bad news was around every corner, and taking more forms than we ever really thought was possible. 13 players have departed the program for reasons other than graduation since the end of last season, and that's not even counting the true freshman that signed an LOI and then backed out of it before ever making it to campus. Attrition is a normal thing for all college teams, where all athletes have a lot of requirements and some of them can't meet all of those requirements. However, losing 13 veterans (and a true freshman) between seasons is an awful lot of attrition, and it's daunting for a lot of fans. Below, you'll see a list of all of the players that have prematurely departed the program since the end of last season.
|Backed Out of LOI
|Kevin Robbins Jr.
It's a pretty daunting list, right? I know, scary. But when you really start to look at it, it's actually not as bad as it looks.
Your starting quarterback transferred without any sort of coaching change or scheme change or anything. That's...alarming. Even so, it's not the worst thing. Vad Lee was the starting quarterback last year because of the overall package. He wasn't the best at running the offense, he wasn't a great passer, and mentally he didn't accept the offense or commit to running it. He was still the starter because he was the team's leader, because he was physically bigger, and because he had seniority over the guy behind him. A lot of points actually pointed to him not being the starter this year anyways. Other than Vad, the Jackets lost Ty Griffin, who had a nice spring game but was unlikely to ever start at quarterback with the impressive development of Matthew Jordan since his arrival.
Verdict: It's never good to lose a starting quarterback to transfer, but Lee wasn't particularly good and didn't really indicate he was improving. Griffin was unlikely to make considerable positive impact moving forward. All things considered, Georgia Tech didn't really lose that much at this position group.
One of the biggest losses of this whole group was actually a guy who hadn't played a game for the Jackets, but the loss of Travis Custis was a big one given the potential he had as a B-Back. Custis was a running back that had a chance to be a major, dynamic playmaker in the Yellow Jacket backfield. Initial issues came when he failed to qualify as a true freshman. Custis took the fall semester to finish up high school classwork before enrolling on the Flats in the spring. After one semester, Custis was declared academically ineligible and announced a transfer to Hutchinson (KS) Community College. His loss is colossal, although the loss of Donovan Wilson is not as major. Wilson was struggling to break into the rotation as a B-Back after moving over from A-Back, where he was also struggling to compete. After C.J. Leggett showed up on campus and beat out Wilson before the end of fall camp, Wilson spoke with Coach Johnson and decided to transfer.
Verdict: In Travis Custis, the Yellow Jackets lost a potential star at B-Back. In Donovan Wilson, Georgia Tech lost a guy who would have been more or less a scout team running back.
After the dismissal of his brother (discussed below), true freshman Myles Autry had some thinking to do on whether he really wanted to play at Georgia Tech if his brother weren't there. That thinking ended in him wanting to back out of his LOI and search out a spot elsewhere. Autry has dynamic playmaking abilities that could have made him a very dangerous A-Back and Kick Returner, although his commitment to doing the little things (blocking) could have potentially been an issue down the line.
Verdict: The loss of Autry is a minor one. He had dynamic athletic abilities and could have been a gamebreaker on the field, but also had a lot of non-athletic questions surrounding him that could have been problematic down the line. All that, not to mention that he had yet to participate in any workouts or even practices, much less any games.
Anthony Autry was dismissed from the program in July for a violation of the GTAA Student Code of Conduct, along with Travin Henry and Darius Commissiong. Autry was coming back off of a second ACL injury in under two years, but was reportedly healthy and back to his old playing abilities. Autry played pretty well in eight games and started three as a true freshman before being injured, and likely would have been in the 4-5 receiver rotation, but not starting.
Verdict: Autry's dismissal is a minor loss for the Yellow Jackets, as he had potential to be a contributor to Georgia Tech. There is a chance that he would have become a starter in future years, but as it stood he was the #4 or #5 WR on the team.
Back in November 2013, Chase Roberts suffered a truly nasty concussion in the Clemson game. By nasty, I mean he doesn't remember anything after "putting on a shirt at the team hotel preparing to go downstairs for the pregame meal." So, not good. Roberts reportedly still feels symptoms at times, and had them flare up when he tried putting on a helmet once. This is a shame, not only from a general human standpoint but also from a football standpoint. Roberts would likely be competing for a starting OT job right now with Bryan Chamberlain, Chris Griffin, and Errin Joe -- and my guess is that he would be winning that competition.
Verdict: The loss of Roberts is the only other major loss on the team besides Custis, as the Jackets probably lost a talented three-year starter on the offensive line who was already starting games as a redshirt freshman.
This is quite the squad. Quickly...
- DE Anthony Williams was dismissed prior to his fifth-year senior season. Though a 4-star prospect, Williams was a career backup who will play his final season of eligibility at Troy University.
- DT Jimmie Kitchen was a career backup who wasn't in particularly good standing with his position coaches. He was not in line to see significant playing time this year.
- DT Justin Akins departed the team in the middle of his second semester in school, due to reported off-field issues that need settling. It has not been determined whether he will return or seek opportunities elsewhere, and he was unlikely to play a major role on the defensive line this fall.
- DL Darius Commissiong and DE Travin Henry were dismissed alongside Anthony Autry in July due to violations of the GTAA's Student Code of Conduct. It was not the first time any of the three had seen disciplinary actions after each had been previously suspended. Henry had yet to make an impact on the field. Commissiong redshirted last season and was likely to be a factor on the defensive line in the future, though he would have seen limited playing time this year.
- DL Jabari Hunt-Days was ruled academically ineligible for this fall and had his scholarship pulled, though he remains in school and has still been practicing with the team. Hunt-Days was a bright, big-time linebacker prospect who struggled a bit in Ted Roof's 4-3 scheme and nearly lost his starting job. He was expected to move to WDE to replace Jeremiah Attaochu and ended up playing some DT in fall camp. He may return to the team at a future date if he can re-attain eligibility.
- DE Kevin Robbins Jr. announced that he would transfer to pursue different academic opportunities back in February. He was expected to compete for the starting SDE job vacated by Emmanuel Dieke's graduation, and would have seen significant playing time this year if he hadn't won the starting position outright.
Verdict: The two single biggest losses from this group were Jabari Hunt-Days, who was mid-position change, and Kevin Robbins, who had not yet seen the field and had stiff competition for the SDE job in Tyler Stargel. Those two are considered minor losses. Everyone else from this group was unlikely to make much short-term impact. However, the collective loss of 7 players does have short-term implications when it comes to depth at the defensive line positions, and particularly on the interior defensive line. Defensive Line Coach Mike Pelton's work will be cut out for him in maximizing the limited depth there this season, and the pressure is on to recruit solid replacements in the upcoming class.
13 players is a lot to lose, and it's completely understandable that we would be concerned by that. But when you take a step back and really consider who left, you see that 6 of 13 departures are of basically no consequence moving forward, and another 5 are relatively minor in impact. Finding someone as good as (or better than) Travis Custis will be a tough long-term issue to fix, as will finding someone that can do what Chase Roberts would have done over the next three years at OT.
As for the 11 other guys, they're either replaceable types, or guys we'll hardly notice are gone. Pretty much all of our best players and important role-players are still in white and gold, still taking care of business and representing our school in the best way. As long as that remains the case, this team is going to be just fine.
Am I sipping a little too much Kool-Aid? Did we lose major talent this off season, or will we be able to reload fairly easily?