First I want to say how excited I am to be a contributor. My Name is Edmund Coley and I'm originally from Atlanta, GA. Though my heart is and will always be with my Georgia Southern Eagles, I have followed the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets my whole life. Many life lessons and even things I've tried to teach my sons have come from coaches Paul Johnson, Giff Smith, Mike Sewak, Brian Bohanon, Jeff Monken and countless others. I hope you enjoy my coverage as much as I enjoy being apart of From the Rumble Seat.
Paul Johnson gains a lot of national recognition for being different. One thing Johnson and the Jackets’ staff haven’t received enough recognition for is developing young players.
"Either the rankings are off or we’re just good coaches," Johnson has joked in the past referring to the low rankings of his recruiting classes. The truth seems to be in the latter. Despite their efforts, there haven’t been many hat-flipping, high-profile, four and five-star recruits introduced on signing day. But Tech coaches are still producing players who've made it onto NFL rosters like Brandon Watts, Jeremiah Attaochu, Jemea Thomas and soon DeAndre Smelter. I have a feeling we will be adding D.J. White to that list pretty soon as well.
As spring practice continues, I've done my best Ron Jaworski impersonation and watched hours upon hours of video breaking down these players. Here are three who I think will make the biggest jump from a virtually unknown to having a huge impact on the 2015 season.
AB – QUA SEARCY
Qua Searcy was Mr. Everything for Lamar County High School, and in his first year, coaches are already trying to think of ways to get him on the field. Last season, the coaches took a look at Searcy as a receiver and cornerback. Now the 5-11 speedster will compete for playing time at A-Back. If you’ve never seen this kid play… do yourself a favor:
When it comes to raw athleticism, cutting on a dime and making people miss, Searcy has little competition. The redshirt freshman could provide Tech with a receiving element that has not been as present among A-Backs in the past. Searcy not only has the ability to get open, he can also make people miss in the open field. If an A-Back builds a rapport with Jr. QB Justin Thomas, this offense just got a lot more dangerous.
WR – MICHEAL SUMMERS
I know… I know… Micheal Summers has started game the last two years. He’s not a new-comer. Yes, but the last two years, Summers has not been the primary outside threat, but instead has been doing a lot of the dirty work. However, he could be seen as a prototypical player at the professional level. We forget at Georgia Tech because all the receivers are 6-4 or 6-5 monsters and built like DE’s, that not all successful receivers in the pros look like that. At 6-1, 190 lbs., Summers has good hands, runs very good routes and has one of the best work ethics on the team. Plus, Summers might be one of the fastest receivers Tech has had. We just haven’t seen it because he does such a good job blocking on the perimeter. I think the ball will find him a lot more this year and he will prove that he’s not just a skinny offensive lineman.
OL – GARY BROWN
If you ask any starter on the defensive front for the Yellow Jackets in 2014 who was the toughest block to get off of in practice, many would say Gary Brown. At 6-3, and slightly under 300 lbs., some have also described him as a bigger Shaq Mason. In his redshirt year, Brown proved to be smart, very athletic and very violent coming off the ball. He has the size that everyone wants up front, but also has the quickness that many LB’s dread… especially playing in this offense. Brown is a load. And when he gets moving, defenders will have to guess if he’s coming to drive them off the ball or stay low and cut. Brown will get plenty of chances to crack the two-deep and get into the rotation this fall. Believe me, the ACC should hope he doesn’t.
Others to watch for…
WR – ANTONIO MESSICK
It’s no surprise that the only ball Messick caught in 2014 was a touchdown where he attacked the ball at its highest point and out-jumped a defender. The 6-3 former Fayette County basketball player was essentially an unknown in recruiting circles until Tech coaches spotted him in a camp held on campus. Messick is still new to this sport of football and Tech coaches say there is a lot more he has to learn in order to allow his freakish athletic ability to naturally take over.
BB – MARCUS MARSHALL
I know he’s not on the spring roster, but Marshall just looks like an old-school back that combines a powerfully low running style with an ability to break tackles. With so many spread offenses in high school, you don’t get to see his down-hill running style very often. That style just happens to make Marshall a perfect fit for the Yellow Jackets’ system.
S – JALEN JOHNSON
Jalen Johnson suffered a knee injury his senior year of high school and wore a redshirt in 2014. Johnson has a great combination of size, speed, length and ball skills that will scare offenses in the Coastal Division. Johnson will have to be better than many experienced defensive backs. But with the ability to make plays and a healthy knee, it will be extremely hard to keep him off the field.