ATLANTA — With Georgia Tech returning eight of its top 10 pass catchers from last season, the receiver corps is one of the team’s strengths as the Yellow Jackets continue preseason drills in preparation for their Aug. 27 season opener at 11th-ranked Virginia Tech.
“We’ve got quite a few players back with experience, and we only lost one player from that group,” said Tech head coach George O’Leary following Tuesday’s morning workout, referring to Dez White, a second-round draft pick of the Chicago Bears, who caught 44 passes for 860 yards and five touchdowns last fall.
“We have a bunch of guys who have caught balls and played in game situations. That’s a position where timing is very important, and experience-wise, they know what has to get done.”
Headlining Tech’s returnees is junior all-America candidate Kelly Campbell (Atlanta, Ga.), who enjoyed a breakout season in 1999, setting a school record with 69 receptions for 1,105 yards and 10 touchdowns. A 5-11, 180-pound speedster, he often benefitted from double teams on White, but now it is Campbell who is likely to draw the extra attention.
“Kelly has the ability to be a very good receiver,” said O’Leary. “But I think we have a lot of good receivers. Don’t forget, Jon Muyres was our top receiver in spring practice. That’s a good group out there.”
Muyres, a senior from Stone Mountain, Ga., emerged from spring practice as the starter opposite Campbell. Last season, he had nine catches for 105 yards and one touchdown. Also returning are sophomore Kerry Watkins (LaPlace, La.), who was third on the team with 33 receptions for 476 yards and six touchdowns, sophomore Will Glover (Tampa, Fla.), who had four receptions for 50 yards, including a crucial touchdown catch against Georgia, and sure-handed senior Brett Basquin (LaBelle, Fla.), who missed all but four games with a broken foot, but caught three passes for 47 yards and one touchdown.
“I hope they can double someone because that leaves someone else open,” said O’Leary. “That’s the name of a good passing game, throwing where the defenders are not.”
Tech has one more day of non-contact before practicing in full pads for the first time on Thursday, August 10.