May 1, 2011
By Kevin Ksionzyk
For Sting Daily
The start of the college football regular season can’t come soon enough for many, but for now we’re left to dream and chat about possibilities. In looking forward, why not look back a little bit?
Last Saturday’s T-Day football game – the finale to spring practice — gave Georgia Tech fans a glimpse of what is to come. Players on both sides of the ball were trying to make an impression on the coaching staff, and although the season cannot be won or lost in the spring, it is an important time for evaluation.
As with all college football teams at the moment, the Yellow Jackets have an identity crisis. Each new mix of players takes on an identity unique to themselves and where does it start?
Several players made their presence known in the T-Day game, and one in particular really stood out: inside linebacker Quayshawn Nealy. Based on his performance Saturday and the abilities he displayed he might just become a Saturday fixture for Tech fans in the fall. The PA announcer, John Pendergast, couldn’t seem to say his name enough. Nealy was all over the field making all kinds of plays.
From the first snap to his last, Nealy made his presence felt. On the Gold team’s first defensive series of the game, he sacked starting White team quarterback Tevin Washington. Nealy also recovered a fumble, recorded 7.5 tackles, broke up a pass attempt and tipped another pass that resulted in an interception.
Nealy tipped his hat to defensive end Jason Peters and the defensive line. “I do give credit to the D-Line,” the redshirt freshman said. “They opened up a lot of holes for me. The experience of others on the defense definitely makes me better.”
After sitting out a year, Nealy has seemed to cope well to make the transition from high school starter to redshirt freshman. “It’s a great feeling to compete [Saturday] after sitting out last year, especially coming from high school and playing every day,” he said.
Sitting across from Qauyshawn in the postgame press conference, Washington sang the defense’s praises as he looked at the man who sacked him once and recovered one of his fumbles.
“I do think this is the best defense we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Washington said. “Offensively, we were never able to get into a rhythm but the defense makes us better.”
Nealy wasn’t the only T-Day standout. Peters, who will be a fifth-year player in the fall, forced a fumble, recorded 5.5 tackles and had a sack of his own while linebacker B.J. Machen recorded 6.5 tackles, one sack and also recovered a fumble.
The future of the Georgia Tech defense is yet to be determined, but at the moment there are positive signs.