ATLANTA-As Georgia Tech continues preseason drills, wide receiver looks to be one of the team’s deepest positions, with several talented pass catchers complementing preseason all-America Kelly Campbell.
Campbell, a junior from Atlanta, broke all of Tech’s season records with 69 receptions for 1,105 yards and 10 touchdowns. Tech returns eight of its top 10 receivers from last season, including sophomore Kerry Watkins (LaPlace, La.), who had 33 catches for 476 yards and six touchdowns, and senior Jon Muyres (Stone Mountain, Ga.), who had nine catches for 105 yards and one touchdown.
“I thought Jon Muyres had the best spring among the wide receivers, and I think the guy having the best preseason camp is Kerry Watkins,” said Tech head coach George O’Leary after Tuesday’s workout. “That’s great to have that much competition. That makes everyone work harder and become better players.
“I’m satisfied that we have guys at that position who are working hard and improving. I don’t think you ever remain the same; you get better or worse. I think we’re getting better at that position, and we’re getting tougher.”
Also returning are sophomore Will Glover (Tampa, Fla.), who had four receptions for 50 yards, including a crucial touchdown catch against Georgia, and sure-handed senior Brett Basquin (LaBelle, Fla.), who missed all but four games with a broken foot but caught three passes for 47 yards and one touchdown. True freshmen Nate Curry (Miami, Fla.) and Jonathan Smith (Argyle, Ga.) could also be in the mix.
The only loss is Dez White, a second-round draft pick of the Chicago Bears who caught 44 passes for 860 yards and five touchdowns last fall while frequently drawing double teams. Now it is Campbell who is likely to be the marked man.
“I think it will be similar to Dez White last year,” said O’Leary. “The quarterback is going to throw where the defenders are not. I like it when they have to double someone because that opens up the running game and it opens up the other receivers. I don’t think you can really isolate one guy on our squad because we have other guys who can hurt you.”
O’Leary has also been pleased with the progress of the tight end position, where junior starter Russell Matvay (Coram, N.Y.) is backed up by sophomore Will Heller (Dunwoody, Ga.). Matvay caught five passes for 39 yards and one touchdown while also seeing action at fullback, and Heller was used primarily as a blocker.
“Russell Matvay has had his best preseason since he’s been here,” said O’Leary. “His strength level is up and his weight is up.
“Will Heller has done a good job, and I’ve been impressed with [true freshman] J.P. Foschi (Glen Head, N.Y.). He has a lot to learn, but he has good size and he’s a good athlete.”
“From an athletic standpoint, I think that position will be improved,” continued O’Leary. “Conrad Andrzejewski did a great job for us last year, but he wasn’t a great pass receiver, so we didn’t go to him much. Matvay is a good athlete who can catch and block, so that may open up more.”
The Yellow Jackets, who open the season Aug. 27 at 10th-ranked Virginia Tech in the BCA Bowl, will hold a closed scrimmage Wednesday afternoon at Bobby Dodd Stadium.