It's something that's been mentioned a bit in the camp wrap-ups for the offense and defense, but we got a request on Twitter earlier this week that was probably worth covering more in-depth:
@FTRSBlog could yall do an article on likely candidates for a redshirt? Thanks— William Mayfield (@wmayfield13) August 19, 2015
So, again, it's something that we talked about through the offense & defense wrap-ups to a certain degree, but here's a look at where each of the freshmen stand moving towards the season:
|QB||Christian Campbell||Redshirt||The leader in the clubhouse to replace Justin Thomas in 2017, and to serve as his primary backup in 2016. With Tim Byerly in place as a backup for 2015 (and Chase Martenson in place to further supplement), Campbell won't be getting valuable snaps (barring injuries to both Thomas and Byerly), so the coaches will preserve a year of his eligibility.|
|BB||Marcus Marshall||Playing||Marshall has had a strong fall camp and is in position to either start or be the first B-Back off the bench. You'll be seeing a lot of him this fall.|
|BB||Quaide Weimerskirch||Jury's Out||After his foot injury in the spring, Weimerskirch should be cleared by doctors shortly and ready to play when Georgia Tech travels to South Bend in Week 3. He would be the fourth B-Back in the rotation and figures to be the long-term player of Patrick Skov's role.|
|AB||Nathan Cottrell||Redshirt||Cottrell was in good position to play this fall before suffering a significant knee injury that required surgery. He'll miss the season and be back for 2016.|
|AB||TaQuon Marshall||Jury's Out||Of this group, at least one will play to supplement the rotation, with no less than 1 redshirting. It's hard to say who the leader is, but Lands-Davis may have the edge with the size that he brings to the position at upwards of 210 pounds. (Marshall is listed at 175 and Jarrett at 168.)|
|AB||Mikell Lands-Davis||Jury's Out|
|AB||Omahri Jarrett||Jury's Out|
|AB||KirVonte Benson||Redshirt||Benson will redshirt the season to rehab a knee injury he suffered at the end of his senior year, and in fact was planning to delay his enrollment altogether until January 2016 until very recently. Instead, 2015 will be Benson's redshirt season, and he'll be eligible as a redshirt freshman in 2016.|
|WR||Brad Stewart||Playing||Stewart has had a strong camp and may actually start the first game of the season, with Micheal Summers still fighting off an injury. When Summers is back, Stewart figures to be the first WR off the bench.|
|WR||Christian Philpott||Jury's Out||Philpott is probably the most physically gifted of the three receivers with the highest ceiling, but has been fighting through an injury in camp. It's unclear as to whether he'll play this season or not, but chances are we'll know early on based on whether he sees game action.|
|WR||Harland Howell II||Redshirt||Even after enrolling early, Howell is continuing to learn the offense and get used to his role. He would only play in 2015 if there were a number of significant injuries.|
|OL||Will Bryan||Playing||After enrolling early himself, Bryan has had an awesome camp and should be in the two-deep this fall. He'll likely be in line to start at tackle in 2016, after Bryan Chamberlain and Errin Joe are gone.|
|OL||Brad Morgan||Redshirt||Morgan needs some more seasoning before he's ready to contribute. Don't expect to see him on the field this fall.|
|DT||Kyle Cerge-Henderson||Jury's Out||Both players have been good in camp, and one of them will be the fifth man in the DT rotation behind Gotsis, Hunt-Days, Gamble, and Kallon. I'm thinking Glanton plays in 2015, with Cerge-Henderson redshirting unless there is an injury.|
|DT||Brentavious Glanton||Jury's Out|
|DE||Anree Saint-Amour||Jury's Out||Saint-Amour is in the mix at defensive end, but it's yet to be seen as to whether he'll play or redshirt. My guess is that he will end up playing, but it still seems to be up in the air.|
|DE||Scott Morgan||Redshirt||Both of these guys will need some more seasoning before getting considerable playing time. Both have potential to play either DE or DT in the future.|
|LB||Victor Alexander||Playing||Alexander should be playing, both as a backup to P.J. Davis and on special teams. Not totally sure where he falls on the depth chart on defense, but expect to see him in the game at times.|
|LB||Brant Mitchell||Playing||Mitchell is very much in the mix at MLB and could be the first guy off the bench in that spot. You might also see him on special teams in some capacity, but in any case you'll be seeing him on the field.|
|LB||Tyler Cooksey||Redshirt||Cooksey has been fighting through a shoulder injury and struggled accordingly in camp. He'll redshirt this season, both to heal up and get used to the system, as well as for class separation purposes.|
|CB||Dorian Walker||Jury's Out||Chances are that one of this group will play, though it's hard to say which. All of them bring something different to the table and have a lot of potential in the long run. Expect for one of them to play, while the other two redshirt.|
|CB||Meiko Dotson||Jury's Out|
|CB||Dante Wigley||Jury's Out|
|NB||David Curry||Redshirt||With Lynn Griffin and Lawrence Austin in front of him, expect for David Curry to redshirt this fall. Of those listed as redshirt players, he's the most likely to end up playing on special teams or in a limited capacity on defense, but generally I'm expecting the coaches to preserve Curry's eligibility.|
|S||A.J. Gray||Playing||Gray has had a strong camp and should play on both defense and special teams. He'll be a primary backup on defense at strong safety, behind Demond Smith.|
So, by the end of the season, chances are that at least 8-10 of the incoming class will be playing in games, or will have done so at some point in the season. That number could always swell with injuries, but that seems to be a reasonable estimate for now.
8-10 true freshmen playing would be noteworthy, too, given the departure from Coach Johnson's typical habits since he's been at Georgia Tech. On this year's roster, only six players are classified as a junior or senior without having redshirted as freshmen -- D.J. White, Jamal Golden, Adam Gotsis, P.J. Davis, Ryan Rodwell and Harrison Butker. (Even then, Golden was counted as a redshirt player in 2013 when he was injured early in the season and granted a medical hardship by the NCAA. That said,, in 2014, 9 true freshmen played -- Andrew Marshall, KeShun Freeman, Antonio Simmons, Tyler Merriweather, Terrell Lewis, Step Durham, Lance Austin, Lawrence Austin, and Shaun Kagawa.
For 2015 to be a second straight year with that much true freshman participation indicates one of two things -- improved recruiting by Johnson and his staff, where they're now acquiring players who are prepared to contribute right out of the gate, or it's a strategic change based on the likelihood of a player staying for all 5 seasons if he is redshirted. Given the lack of players in recent years to depart the program before their eligibility runs out for non-disciplinary reasons, my guess is that it's more a testament to the quality of recruiting. Either way, it's looking like a philosophy change on the Flats.
Any freshmen you're excited to see play this year? Any that you're hoping will (or won't) redshirt?