O'Leary Sees Progress as Yellow Jackets Prepare for Springfest

ATLANTA (April 5) – As Georgia Tech builds toward its final spring scrimmage, head coach George O’Leary has seen improvement in all areas of his football team, naming the defensive line in particular.

Tech will practice Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. Rose Bowl Field before Saturday’s Springfest at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field. Practice begins at 10:30 a.m. with the scrimmage scheduled to start at 11 a.m. The Yellow Jackets then have two final practice days next week.

Springfest is open to the public free of charge. Activities begin at 10 a.m. in the Callaway Plaza outside Bobby Dodd Stadium.

“I’ve been pleased with spring so far,” said O’Leary after Wednesday’s workout. “We’re getting better and we’re identifying what kind of team we have to be next fall in order to win. I see our chemistry improving, and all the groups are getting better.”

“The defensive end position is really a very much improved position,” he continued “We have better athletic ability and were getting more pressure on the quarterback. The inside people are all back, and there’s no question that year of experience is making a difference.”

The improved athletic ability is due in part to the presence of junior Nick Rogers (East Point, Ga.), who has settled at defensive end after bouncing between there and linebacker last season.

Sophomore Greg Gathers (LaPlace, La.), a Freshman All-America last fall, has shown big play ability as he works both at defensive end and defensive tackle. Gathers led Tech last season with seven sacks and 18 tackles for loss. Senior Felipe Claybrooks (Decatur, Ga.) also sees a lot of action with the first team.

Starting defensive tackles Merrix Watson (Mount Pleasant, S.C.) and Guenter Kryszon (Clark, N.J.), also return, backed up by seniors Tony Robinson (Soperton, Ga.) and Bryan Corhen (Albany, Ga.) and sophomore Berwin Echols (Atlanta, Ga.).

On the other side of the line of scrimmage, O’Leary has also seen his offensive line take shape as Tech replaces three starters. Senior David Schmidgall (Clearwater, Fla.) takes over at center, with redshirt freshmen John Bennett (Woodstock, Ga.) and Clay Hartley (Bryceville, Fla.) working on the first team at right tackle and left guard, respectively. Key backups include sophomore guard Raymond Roberts-Blake (Walthourville, Ga.) and redshirt freshman Hugh Reilly (Alpharetta, Ga.), who moved to center from defensive tackle.

“I’m really pleased with these young players, Bennett, Hartley and Roberts-Blake,” said O’Leary. “They’re really coming on, and I think Schmidgall is playing very well at center. Even Hugh Reilly, for the first time playing center, is doing an outstanding job.”

O’Leary is not ready to name a number one quarterback but says that he sees the competition between junior George Godsey (Tampa, Fla.), sophomore Jermaine Crenshaw (Greenville, Ala.) and redshirt freshmen Andy Hall (Cheraw, S.C.) and Brian Camp (Dublin, Ohio) taking shape.

“I want the quarterback situation to start separating and I think it is,” said O’Leary. “As I watch film I see George Godsey making the right decisions and I see Andy Hall making more good decisions. Both Jermaine Crenshaw and Brian Camp are getting better, too, but that sense of urgency in getting better is critical.”