ATLANTA (Mar. 21) – One of the most welcome sights as Georgia Tech continues spring practice is the return of linebacker Matt Miller and tailback Joe Burns after season-ending injuries last fall.
Miller, a junior from Alpharetta, Ga., missed the 1999 season while recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee suffered late in 1998. He returns to anchor the Tech defense at middle linebacker after making 65 tackles as a sophomore.
“There’s no question that Matt Miller brings chemistry to the huddle,” said Tech head coach George O’Leary. “You can see the poise and leadership ability he has, and we missed that last season.”
Burns, a sophomore from Thomasville, Ga., was Tech’s leading rusher as a freshman in 1998 with 474 yards and five touchdowns. Last fall, he gained 87 yards rushing and 96 yards receiving before sustaining a broken ankle in Tech’s second game, sidelining him for the remainder of the season.
“That was a key loss for the offense last fall,” said O’Leary. “We continued to move the ball, but Joe brings a certain toughness that is tough to replace.”
“Having both of them back is a real plus.”
Tech will practice in pads for the first time Wednesday.
“We’re working 44 players at a time, so we’re getting everyone a lot of reps,” said O’Leary. “Obviously there are some mistakes, but the effort and enthusiasm is good.
“We put the pads on tomorrow, and I’m looking to see who can handle the pressure. Things will start to separate themselves then.”