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Jackets Begin Spring Practice with 16 Returning Starters

ATLANTA (March 20) – It’s been four years since Georgia Tech head coach George O’Leary entered spring practice without an established starting quarterback, but the sixth-year head coach, who must find a replacement for Heisman Trophy runnerup Joe Hamilton, says that Tech has a much better talent base on which to build now than when Hamilton took over.

The Jackets’ first scheduled practice on Sunday was postponed due to inclement weather. Tech’s first practice will now be today at 4 p.m., followed by workouts Tuesday (7 p.m.), Wednesday (4 p.m.), Friday (4 p.m.) and Saturday (10:30 a.m.).

Spring practice continues with workouts scheduled for each Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday through April 12. The annual Springfest scrimmage is scheduled for Saturday, April 8 at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field.

“We’ve got some awfully big shoes to fill in Joe Hamilton, but we have some experience back at the other positions,” said O’Leary.

“When Joe took over as a freshman, the surrounding cast wasn’t as good as what we have now. The difference now is that the quarterback taking over has a lot more ability around him. We won’t have to rely on the quarterback to make every play.

“I think we have a chance to be a pretty decent offense if we can get that one position straightened out because we do have some playmakers on offense.”

In addition to the four quarterback candidates-junior George Godsey (Tampa, Fla.), redshirt freshmen Andy Hall (Cheraw, S.C.) and Brian Camp (Dublin, Ohio) and sophomore Jermaine Crenshaw (Greenville, Ala.)-Tech returns five starters on offense, including all-America candidates Kelly Campbell (Atlanta, Ga.) at flanker and Chris Brown (Augusta, Ga.) at tackle, as well as the top rusher from each of the last two seasons in sophomore Joe Burns (Thomasville, Ga.) and junior Sean Gregory (Homewood, Ill.).

“We have to come out of the spring saying this is the number one quarterback, this is the number two quarterback and this is the number three quarterback,” continued O’Leary. “We can’t head into the fall and still be having tryouts.

“I think we have four guys who throw the ball extremely well. It’s just how much we can do with them as far as running the offense. But we have four quarterbacks, and most people don’t have that going into the spring.”

Godsey is the only candidate who has taken a collegiate snap with a total of 32 passes in his career, including five-for-13 for 57 yards in six games last fall. Hall and Camp split time last season between the scout team and the varsity, while Crenshaw spent most of the season at flanker, where he caught three passes for 33 yards. He will be given a shot at his former position this spring, but should he not win the quarterback job, he will likely return to flanker.

O’Leary said that starting fullback Ed Wilder (Washington, Ga.) will be held out of most drills after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery over the winter.

“He gutted out last season, but he was never fully healthy,” said O’Leary. “I know he’s the fullback and I know what he can do, so I want to take a look at some other guys.”

Brian Meager (Hatboro, Pa.), a backup on the offensive line, will also miss spring drills while recovering from a broken ankle, but everyone else will be available, including Burns, who missed most of last season with a broken ankle suffered in the second game.

On defense, Tech returns nine starters, led by all-conference candidate Chris Young (Senoia, Ga.) at strong safety, plus a pair of Freshman All-Americas in Greg Gathers (LaPlace, La.), who moves from defensive end to defensive tackle, and linebacker Recardo Wimbush (Blakely, Ga.). In that trio, plus sophomore free safety Jeremy Muyres (Stone Mountain, Ga.), Tech returns its top four tacklers from a year ago.

“Defensively we have a lot of players back and we have to play better,” said O’Leary. “Our charge this winter was to get bigger and stronger, and I think they did a good job in the weight room. We have more kids benching over 400 pounds now than we’ve ever had. I’m very confident they are going to play better. “

With Gathers moving inside, junior Nick Rogers (East Point, Ga.) moves fulltime to defensive end after splitting time there and at linebacker last fall, and sophomore Kelvin Hughley (Chattanooga, Tenn.) also shifts from linebacker to defensive end. The linebacker corps will be bolstered by the move of redshirt freshman Anthony Lawston (Baltimore, Md.), from wide receiver.

SPRING PRACTICE SCHEDULE1       Monday, March 20, 4 p.m. (Rose Bowl)2       Tuesday, March 19, 7 p.m. (Rose Bowl)3       Wednesday, March 22, 4 p.m. (Rose Bowl)4       Friday, March 24, 4 p.m. (Rose Bowl)5       Saturday, March 25, 10:30 a.m.6       Monday, March 27, 4 p.m. (Rose Bowl)7       Wednesday, March 29, 4 p.m. (Rose Bowl)8       Friday, March 31, 4 p.m. (Rose Bowl)9       Saturday, April 1, TBA10      Monday, April 3, 4 p.m. (Rose Bowl)11      Wednesday, April 5, 4 p.m. (Rose Bowl)12      Friday, April 7, 4 p.m. (Rose Bowl)13      Saturday, April 8, SPRINGFEST14      Monday, April 10, 4 p.m. (Rose Bowl)15      Wednesday, April 12, 4 p.m. (Rose Bowl)All Times, Dates & Locations Subject to Change


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