ATLANTA (April 12) – Georgia Tech head coach George O’Leary praised split end Jon Muyres, center David Schmidgall and linebackers Ather Brown and Anthony Lawston as some of the individual standouts of spring practice, which concluded Wednesday (4/12) for the Yellow Jackets.
Tech, which posted an 8-4 record last fall, opens the 2000 season Aug. 27 at Virginia Tech in the BCA Bowl.
“It was a good spring,” said O’Leary after Wednesday’s final workout. “I don’t know of a day when we didn’t come out and get good effort from everybody.
“You want to make sure that the all the kids are better when they leave field, and for the most part, that was done. I think some of the young kids probably matured on defense a little bit more than on offense. I thought they improved tremendously, and they had to.”
Receiver is one of the deepest and most experienced positions on the team, with the return of junior all-America candidate Kelly Campbell (Atlanta, Ga.), 69 catches, 1105 yards, 10 TD, and sophomore Kerry Watkins (LaPlace, La.), 33-476-6, but O’Leary said that it was the veteran Muyres who caught his eye. A rising senior from Stone Mountain, Ga., Muyres was Tech’s fifth-leading receiver last fall with nine catches for 105 yards and one touchdown.
“In the receiver corps we have a lot of players returning, and I thought Jon Muyres was the one who had the best spring,” said O’Leary. “He’s healthy and back to his form of two years ago. He had a good spring, the best spring of the skilled athletes.”
Tech’s offensive line features senior all-star candidates Chris Brown (Augusta, Ga.) at left tackle and Brent Key (Trussville, Ala.) at right guard, but must replace three starters. Schmidgall, a senior from Clearwater, Fla. and a former walk-on, has taken over at center for Noah King.
“We have some good young players on the offensive lineJohn Bennett, Clay Hartley, Raymond Roberts-Blakebut I think Schmidgall has been the biggest surprise,” said O’Leary. “I think he’s playing as well as anyone up front. We’ve got some good athletes there who just need to get some experience.”
Tech’s defense returns nine of 11 starters, and O’Leary said that experience has made a difference, praising the play of redshirt freshmen linebackers Brown (Macon, Ga.) and Lawston (Baltimore, Md.), a convert from wide receiver.
“Defensively, you can see the one year of maturity in the freshmen who played last year,” said O’Leary. “Ather Brown and Anthony Lawston both had good springs, They are 6-3, 6-4 and are going to be 235-240 pounds. Those are the kind of linebackers you want.
“The safeties had a good spring, Chris Young (Senoia, Ga.) and Jeremy Muyres (Stone Mountain, Ga.).”
O’Leary said that he would continue to evaluate the quarterback position before naming a number one.
“I think a couple of kids separated themselves from the others this spring, and that’s what competition is all about,” said O’Leary.
“Now we need to have a good offseason program as far as strength gains and speed gains while we continue to focus on assignments.”