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Jackets Continue Spring Drills

April 5, 2005

ATLANTA–One of the position battles underway in Georgia Tech’s spring practice is at fullback, where the Jackets must replace two-year starter Jimmy Dixon, an unheralded but important contributor the last two seasons.

Senior Ajenavi Eziemefe and sophomore Mike Cox are the frontrunners, while redshirt freshman Justin Guadagni is also getting plenty of work. However, both Eziemefe and Cox have missed time this spring with minor injuries, hampering the progress at that position.

“Neither one of them has been on the field consistently,” said Tech head coach Chan Gailey of the two veterans. “That was the great thing about Jimmy Dixon – he was there every snap.”

Like Dixon, both Eziemefe and Cox are former tailbacks making the transition to fullback. Cox, 6-1, 248, was a tailback in high school, while Eziemefe, 6-1, 240, has played tailback at times for the Jackets. He enters his senior season with 407 career rushing yards. Still, the fullback is not often asked to carry the ball in Tech’s schemes; in fact, Dixon had just eight carries last season.

“The fullback is a blocker first, a pass catcher second and a runner third in our offense,” said Gailey.

“I thought we ran the ball a little better today,” said Gailey, who added that Oklahoma transfer Tashard Choice will continue to get more reps at tailback now that he is eligible to play this fall.

“We’ll give him more work now that it’s a definite,” said Gailey. “He’s done a great job thus far. He’s been one of the more impressive players in spring practice.”

Redshirt freshman Andrew Gardner is making steady progress at left tackle, where he steps in for last year’s starter, Leon Robinson. The Tyrone, Ga., native, who attended Sandy Creek High, now stands 6-6 and 280 pounds.

“He has made a great deal of improvement,” said Gailey. “We looked at him in the fall and we thought he was going to help us. It just depended on how quickly he could put on the weight. He’s been able to put on about 40 pounds since he’s been, and it’s been a good transition.”

Tech’s next practice is scheduled for Friday afternoon.

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