April 2, 2005
ATLANTA–Georgia Tech’s defense, which returns 10 starters, continues to look strong as the Yellow Jackets reached the midway point of spring football practice.
The Jackets battled cold, strong winds, rain and even a little sleet to complete Saturday morning’s practice at Bobby Dodd Stadium, Tech’s eighth practice of the spring, which continues through April 16.
“I thought the defense played well today, and we were able to get some good things done in a couple of special teams areas,” said Tech head coach Chan Gailey after Saturday’s workout.
Tech’s defense looks to build on last year’s strong unit, which ranked 12th in the nation by allowing just 297.9 yards per game. One returning starter, junior Mansfield Wrotto, moved from defensive tackle to offensive guard, but the Jackets actually return three starters at cornerback, where senior Reuben Houston and junior Kenny Scott are joined by senior Dennis Davis, who returns from last fall’s season-ending injury shoulder injury.
Even with the experience returning on the defense, a couple of players are working at new positions. Senior Dawan Landry, a two-year starter at strong safety, moves to free safety to replace two-time all-ACC honoree James Butler. Senior Chris Reis, an honorable mention all-ACC linebacker last season, returns to his original position at strong safety. Junior linebacker KaMichael Hall is working at Reis’ former linebacker spot on the strong-side, after playing the weak-side last season.
Joining the number one unit are sophomore defensive tackle Darryl Richard, who actually started three of the last four games of 2004, and sophomore linebacker Philip Wheeler, coming off a redshirt year.
Gailey commented on the addition of Tashard Choice to the backfield mix after Choice, who transferred from Oklahoma, was granted an NCAA waiver, making him eligible this fall.
“We’re very happy for Tashard,” said Gailey. “He’s an excellent young man, and I’m glad the NCAA saw fit to allow this to happen.”
Tech returns senior P.J. Daniels, its leader rusher the last two seasons who ranks fifth on Tech’s career rushing list with 2,416 yards. That figure ranks eighth in the nation among returning players. Daniels battled injuries last season but still managed to rush for 714 yards and eight touchdowns in eight games.
Choice played in eight games for the Sooners last fall, gaining 100 yards on 22 carries.
“P.J. is number one, and everybody else is trying to get to be number one, that’s the way it is,” said Gailey. “They’ve all done some good things during the course of spring practice. It could be a good battle; it’s a lot closer than it was this time last year.”
Tech’s next practice is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.