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Jackets Conclude Spring Practice with Final Scrimmage

April 22, 2006

ATLANTA–A spectacular touchdown catch by Calvin Johnson and five touchdown passes by backup quarterback Taylor Bennett highlighted Georgia Tech’s scrimmage Saturday morning at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field as the Yellow Jackets concluded spring practice.

With Tech focusing on the passing game, Bennett completed 19 of 25 passes for 115 yards and threw touchdown passes of five, 15, seven, eight and two yards.

“Really I thought he made a big step from the first two scrimmages to today,” head coach Chan Gailey said of Bennett. “Especially the first part of the scrimmage, he played very very well. That’s some of the things we’ve seen in practice, but we hadn’t seen in a scrimmage and he finally showed some stuff in the scrimmage today and that was big for him and for us.”

Starting quarterback Reggie Ball saw limited duty but hit Johnson for the 29-yard scoring play. Kyle Manley was 8-for-13 for 79 yards.

“[Ball] had a great throw to Calvin and he had one interception, but I’ll have to look at the tape to see what happened on that play,” said Gailey. “I don’t know if Calvin slipped, or what. I thought he handled everything well for the limited amount of practice that he’s had.”

Three of Bennett’s touchdown passes went to redshirt freshman Martin Frierson, who caught a total of seven passes for 42 yards, including scoring plays of five, 15 and eight yards. Freshmen Greg Smith added five catches for 29 yards with one touchdown, and tight end Michael Matthews also a caught a touchdown

With sophomore James Johnson slated to start opposite Calvin Johnson, Tech has been seeking other receivers to complement those two.

“Martin Friersen, Greg Smith and Chris Dunlap are all in that group of receivers who made great progress this spring,” said Gailey. “They all did some nice things during the course of spring practice. We really feel that our wide receiver position is set and we feel good about that. Now they aren’t battle tested in games but they’ve taken the first big step to getting there.

James Johnson, even though he didn’t practice one snap in spring practice, he proved a lot to us last year during the season and I would think going into the fall it would be his job to lose. The great thing about spring practice is that we found some other guys that we think can be factors.”

Gailey also says that the tailback position is in good shape in the hands of juniors Tashard Choice and Rashaun Grant and freshman Jamaal Evans.

“Tashard is the solid number one and I think we know what Rashaun Grant can do,” said Gailey. “He’s a very good back that can play a lot of football for us and be successful. We needed to see what Jamaal could do and I think that during the course of three scrimmages he proved that he’s going to be a very good back.

“We had some good things happen to us this spring. I think our kicking game is back in good shape and some guys on offense and defense did a nice job.”

The Jackets open the 2006 season by hosting Notre Dame on Sept. 2 at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field.

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