Countdown to Kickoff: 81 Days
This week, our "100 Days to Kickoff" series continues as we look at five players who are some of the best and most important to the team in 2016. When we started doing these a few years back, the idea was to model them after the old NCAA Football video game series, which would assign "Impact Players" to each team based on talent, position, and production levels. This week, we’ll be selecting players based on those same factors, but moreso on their overall importance to the team this fall. (That is, these aren't necessarily the team's five best players.) Today our series of 5 Impact Players continues with WR Ricky Jeune.
WR - Ricky Jeune, RS Junior
The redshirt junior wideout will be looked at as the position’s leader this fall. After redshirting in 2013 and playing sparingly in 2014 during garbage time and on special teams, Jeune started all 12 games last season.
Despite the offense having a down year in just about every statistical category, the 6’3" WR hauled in 24 receptions for 520 yards and 21.7 yds/rec. Four of those receptions were for touchdowns. He also had a crucial, game-saving 34 yard reception against Florida State last season.
It’s no secret that Paul Johnson’s flexbone offense is predicated on having a big-play WR threat on the outside. The offense has found it’s most success in the years where Demaryius Thomas and Deandre Smelter kept defenses honest by threatening the deep pass against teams who were having to sellout to stop the run. The 2015 Yellow Jackets largely lacked the deep threat on the outside and need someone to step up this fall.
Jeune has the potential to be the Yellow Jacket’s next star receiver that makes the offense something special. With the offensive line having as many question marks as they do, and the A and B Backs seemingly all recovering from injuries, Jeune’s experience should translate to leadership on the field and provide continuity at the position where it’s often needed most in recent years. If him and Justin Thomas have some of the same chemistry that Thomas shared with Smelter and Waller in 2014, then the nation could very well be underestimating Georgia Tech this season.
Jeune enters the 2016 season with a full year’s experience and as a second-year starter. He has the measurables to be Tech’s next star receiver, which the 2016 Jackets will be badly in need of. He should be one of the most exciting names to keep an eye through summer camp as we head into the fall.