#TGW: Back in Full Swing

March 23, 2015

By Matt Winkeljohn
The Good Word

As the Yellow Jackets return to football for the first time since trouncing Mississippi State in the Orange Bowl, Monday afternoon’s start of spring practice will be a refresher course for some players and moving day for others.

Junior Justin Thomas, for example, is entrenched at quarterback. The same goes for backup Tim Byerly.

So Matthew Jordan figures to be busier than he remembers at calling signals, and Brady Swilling on the other hand will begin learning a new position – B-back.

The former quarterback will not be a pioneer. Former Tech B-backs David Sims and Synjyn Days made that same transition before with considerable success.

Three senior B-backs are moving on, as Days, Zach Laskey and Matt Connors are out of eligibility.

At 6-feet-2, 213 or so pounds, Swilling will bring a Laskey-like stature to the position, where redshirt freshman C.J. Leggett will be among chief competitors.

“It’s going to be interesting to see,” said head coach Paul Johnson. “We’ve got to find some guys ready to contribute. C.J.’s going to have an opportunity, [early enrollee] Quaide [Weimerskirch] is going to have an opportunity.

Brady Swilling, he’s going to move over there. He’s a guy who was a quarterback who’s really worked hard, put on some weight. Then we’ve got a couple of freshmen when they get here in the fall.”

Johnson suggested that Thomas and Byerly may not be too busy, while Jordan will find plenty of work after redshirting last season.

“I thought he made progress,” Johnson said. “We’ll have a plan for Justin. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to beat him up this spring. So I think he’s proven what he can do. Really, for that matter, so has Tim Byerly . . . We have a lot of young guys that can get a lot of work.”

The Jackets (11-3, 6-2 ACC) will have several spots to backfill.

Senior wide receivers DeAndre Smelter and Darren Waller have moved on, as have most of Tech’s busiest A-backs from 2014, All-America right guard Shaq Mason, defensive lineman Shawn Green, linebacker Quayshawn Nealy and safety Isaiah Johnson.

Fifth-year senior Jabari Hunt-Days is expected back after a year tending to academics. The former linebacker is going to work at defensive end.

Redshirt freshman Qua Searcy is likely to move from wide receiver to A-back, and the offensive line will see shuffling.

“I’m always excited,” Johnson said in advance of the afternoon session. “We’ve got a lot of guys that have played [offensive line]. We’re going to try to get the best five players out there. So we may slide some guys around in the spring, guys who played tackle may be playing guard and different things.

“We also have some injuries in the spring because Andrew Marshall is not going to be out there, Chris Griffin. So we’re already down a couple of guys at that position. So we’ll have to be creative. Good thing we have some numbers.”

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