By Jack Williams
Despite the loss of the super-charged quarterback Joe Hamilton, Georgia Tech is excited about its offensive potential for the 2000 football season. There’s one reason, in particular, a very BIG reason.
Meet senior tackle Chris Brown. He weighs 315 pounds, stands 6-6 and makes a habit of running into people and knocking them flat on the football field.
He’s a three-year starter from Augusta, Ga., who is a solid candidate for All-Atlantic Coast Conference, All-America and any other award that has ALL in front of it. Brown was a ringleader on the offensive team last season that led the nation in total offense (an average of 509 yards per game) and was second in scoring offense (40.7 per game).
Brown doesn’t buy all the talk that the Tech offense is out of business now that Hamilton, No. 2 in the Heisman Trophy race last season, has moved on to the pros.
“Sure, any team would miss a guy like Joe,” he said, “But I feel very good about George Godsey. He’s a playmaker – an exceptional quarterback. It’s just that George didn’t have a chance until this season. Now, it’s his turn.
“We’re still in the process of developing chemistry between George and the offensive line. But that is coming. One thing is that George talks a lot differently than Joe. Being from South Carolina, Joe talks real slow. George talks faster, and we’re just getting used to it.
“I think it’s good that George asks the offensive linemen for our opinions about things. We also ask him about things. That’s the way it should be.”
Brown also feels good about the offensive line even though he and another senior, guard Brent Key, (6-4, 290 from Trussville, Ala.) are the only returning starters. He says he is particularly high on two redshirt freshmen, tackle John Bennett (6-5, 296 from Woodstock, Ga.,) and guard Clay Hartley (6-3, 285 from Bryceville, Fla.), both of whom could earn starting berths.
“The line is a lot different,” Brown said, “Last year, we started the season with an experienced player at every position. But all these new guys need is some playing time. They have size, and they have the talent to get the job done.
“I spend a lot of time telling the new players how different football is at this level. Some others are telling them that, too. This isn’t like high school. At Georgia Tech, you’re playing every week against guys who are going to wind up in the NFL. It takes some getting used to.
“The biggest improvement I have made in my time at Georgia Tech is developing an understanding of the game of football. I did not even play football until I was a junior in high school, so it took some learning for me. I know now how fast the game of football is, how intense it is. That’s what we’re trying to tell the young players.”
The Yellow Jackets open the season Aug. 27 at Blacksburg, Va., in the Black Coaches’ Association Bowl against Virginia Tech, a team that lost to Florida State in the National Championship showdown last season. Brown feels the game with the Hokies is a plus for Georgia Tech.
“It gives our young guys a chance to grow up in a hurry,” he said. “They will find out right off the bat what college football is all about. We welcome the opportunity to play the team that was No. 2 in the country last season.
“I think you will find Georgia Tech to be an improved team overall. Our defense now has matured and will play much better. All we need to do is work hard and get up to game speed.”
Brown has words of praise for the new coach of the offensive line – Mac McWhorter.
“There was a real smooth transition when Coach McWhorter took over at the end of last season,” Brown said. “The only real difference is the terms used by the two coaches. We still are running the same plays and still have the same blocking techniques. Coach McWhorter is a great coach. I’m happy to finish up my college career under him.”
Brown is happy, too, to be playing again alongside his buddy, Brent Key, who also is an all-star candidate. “He’s the guy I try to model my play after,” Brown said. “I like the way he plays the game of football and the way he handles himself. He’s very outspoken. I really admire Brent.”
Does it bother Brown that offensive linemen like he and Key receive little media attention while most of the headlines go to the guys who score the touchdowns?
“I’m too old for that stuff,” he says. “That may have bothered me a few years ago, but not anymore. I’m used to the way that works.”
Brown came to Tech from Butler High in Augusta where he played both offense and defense for Coach David Land.
“I started out as a basketball player,” he says. “Then I had some medical problems. During that period of time, I put on a lot of weight and basketball became harder for me. I tried my hand at football and found out I was pretty good at that sport, too. So as a junior in high school, I started playing for the team.”
Brown still has extremely close ties to the Augusta area and some fond memories, like the time he worked in the clubhouse at the Masters Golf Tournament. He says he hopes someday to return to Augusta and go into business on his own. He is majoring in management at Tech.
But first things first. He has another kind of business on his mind these days-trying to make sure Georgia Tech continues as a big winner on the football field.