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Freshman Evans Highlights Tech Scrimmage

April 9, 2006

ATLANTA–Freshman running Jamaal Evans was the bright spot for the Georgia Tech football team as the Yellow Jackets held their first scrimmage of the spring Sunday at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field, delayed one day by Saturday’s rain.

Evans, a true freshman and 2006 signee who enrolled at Tech this semester, carried 13 times for 94 yards and one touchdown. He had carries with both the first and second-team offensive units, so some of his yards came against the Jackets’ number one defense.

“He’s got excellent vision, and that was a positive,” said Gailey. “There were glimpses of it at times, but we didn’t know. He did some good things. We’ll have to watch the film, but it looked like he did some nice things.”

Evans was a prep standout at Irving High in Irving, Texas. The all-time leading rusher in the city of Irving, the 5-8, 191-pounder ran for more than 6,300 yards and 67 touchdowns in three seasons.

Evans said that being patient enough to set up his blocks has been a learning experience for him and something that he didn’t have to do in high school.

“That is one thing he’s had to learn,” Gailey agreed. “You don’t break those habits in seven practices. But he is a learning, and it looks like he’s a pretty quick study.”

Tech’s top two tailbacks saw limited action as Tashard Choice and Rashaun Grant carried just four times each. Walk-on Jason Davis added 42 yards on eight carries.

With starting quarterback Reggie Ball being held out with a minor injury, backup quarterbacks Taylor Bennett and Jonathan Garner got plenty of reps. Both southpaws had bright spots, throwing two touchdowns a piece, but they combined to throw six interceptions.

Bennett, the sophomore who is Tech’s top backup, passed for 123 yards on nine completions, including touchdown passes to Calvin Johnson and Chris Dunlap, but he tossed four interceptions.

“He’s a better quarterback than he was in the fall,” said Gailey of Bennett, who took all the snaps with the first-team offense. “We came out here today and some things that had not been busted in practice were busted today. We’ve got to get him where’s he’s playing and not thinking so much, so he can just react to the situation and have confidence in what he’s doing. Right now, he’s thinking so much that he can’t relax and play.”

Garner was 7-for-15 for 122 yards with touchdown throws to Andrew Smith and tight end Kyle Mooneyham, along with two interceptions at the end of the scrimmage.

Six different defenders had interceptions, including cornerback Kenny Scott, safety Jamal Lewis, cornerback Pat Clark, linebacker Philip Wheeler, cornerback Tony Clark and safety Jason Palmer. Sophomore defensive end Michael Johnson sacked Bennett and caused a fumble.

“It’s good for the defense that they created a lot of turnovers today,” said Gailey. “That was a positive. We picked right up where we left off last year with the interceptions. We need to keep doing that.”

No surprise that all-America Calvin Johnson was the leading receiver with five catches for 91 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown. Sophomore Andrew Smith was next with four receptions for 80 yards, including a 20-yards scoring play. Senior Chris Dunlap added two catches for 22 yards with an 11-yard touchdown.

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