Last season was, by all means, a disappointing one with regard to the passing game at Georgia Tech. Vad Lee was supposed to be the most solid all-around quarterback so far in the Paul Johnson era and the wide receivers, featuring the likes of DeAndre Smelter, Darren Waller, and Michael Summers, were supposed to be one of the strongest groups for the Jackets in years. Partner all that with Paul Johnson's commitment to throw the ball more in 2013, and any fan would have thought that last season could have been the most successful passing year in Paul Johnson's Tech career. Unfortunately, things happened that hindered the new commitment to the pass. Vad Lee consistently underthrew deep passes, Darren Waller didn't take the step forward that he was expected to, and Anthony Autry missed the season due to injury. Now, without Anthony Auttry and Darren Waller (for the first two games), the 2014 group of wideouts needs a new infusion of talent to be successful in 2014, and rising freshman Qua Searcy could be just the man for the job.
Qua Searcy is one of the most versatile players currently on the Tech roster. He played both wide receiver and defensive back in high school, dominating each position during his time at Lamar County High School in Barnesville, GA. He measures in at 5'11", 165 pounds and chose Tech over a number of great football schools, including Clemson, Louisville, and Michigan State. To say that Searcy has "great speed" would be a serious understatement -- he ran a 4.40 in the forty. To put that into perspective, only seven players bested that time at the most recent NFL Draft Combine - two of which were receivers. That's blazing, and it could be exactly what the Jackets need to compliment their somewhat slower, more physical wideouts in Darren Waller and DeAndre Smelter. Neither of the aforementioned receivers are slow by any standard, but neither can burn you off the line like Searcy can either.
Take a look at his film from high school:
Note: The majority of those highlights are of him playing in the secondary (with a few run plays mixed in), but he has been taking his snaps at wide receiver so far. He could get a look at corner or A-Back, but is expected to at least start his Tech career at wide receiver.
If you watched the entirety of the video above, you probably saw Qua make some amazing catches at both corner and wideout. His hands are extremely important to his success as a receiver at Tech; the ability to haul in under/overthrown balls could be very valuable this season with an unproven Justin Thomas under center. He made plays on some balls that were well over the head of some guys and some that would have hit the dirt in front of others. I also really like the awareness that he has on the field; you can see that a few of the throws really took him off route, but he adjusted and made the catch regardless. There were a few catches he made where he could easily have thrown his hands in the air and given up on the play, but he didn't because he had such a great read on where the throw was going. You can't teach awareness, and it's invaluable to have.
I'm no expert in the psychology of football, but I'd argue any day that being able to play corner at the level he does gives him some kind of mental advantage as a wide receiver. The time he spent in the secondary should help him be able to read defenders and hopefully lead to a few big plays in 2014.
All of that said, I'd be shocked if we didn't see Qua Searcy at some point in 2014, whether it be at corner, wideout, or A-Back. His speed, hands, awareness, and general talent should be more than enough to get him at least a few snaps in the regular season, and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see number 82 starting for the Jackets at some point in the season. His talent is undeniable and his potential impact could be huge in 2014 and for years to come.
What are your expectations for Qua Searcy in 2014? Does he have the potential to be an immediate impact player this season or does he need a year or two to be ready for ACC competition?