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Johnson and Johnson Shine in Tech Scrimmage

April 9, 2005

ATLANTA–The wide receiver duo of Johnson and Johnson were the standouts as Georgia Tech held its second scrimmage of the spring Saturday morning at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field.

Eye-catching performances have come to be expected of Calvin Johnson, and Saturday was no exception as the 6-4 sophomore looked effortless in catching four passes for 146 yards, including a 70 yard touchdown play on which he caught Reggie Ball’s pass about 15 yards downfield and outraced the defense for the end zone.

One of Tech’s priorities this spring is finding other receivers who can compliment Calvin Johnson, and Saturday redshirt freshman James Johnson stated his case for playing time.

“I’m just trying to keep the defense off that other Johnson,” said James Johnson after the scrimmage.

A 6-0, 190-pounder from Oakland, Fla., James Johnson caught five passes for 79 yards Saturday, including two touchdown catches covering 22 yards and 11 yards, both from Taylor Bennett.

“He did a nice job running after the catch, he did a nice job going over people to catch the ball and he caught it in traffic,” said Gailey of James Johnson. “There were several things he did that looked good out there today.

“It’s something I had been anticipating but he just hadn’t done it yet, so it was nice for him to have a good day today.”

With Calvin Johnson and senior Damarius Bilbo working as the starters, James Johnson and sophomore Pat Clark appear to be the frontrunners to be the third and fourth wide receivers, although juniors Chris Dunlap and Xavier McGuire are also in the mix.

“I hate to even put numbers on them,” said Gailey of the competition between James Johnson and Pat Clark. “Either one of them can play and play well for us. James gives us a little more versatility because he can play inside and outside, whereas right now, Pat is more of an inside receiver for us.”

Another bright spot in the passing game was junior tight end George Cooper, who caught three passes for 46 yards, including a seven-yard touchdown catch.

Junior quarterback Reggie Ball passed for 210 yards and two touchdowns, completing 13 of 27 passes, but he threw two interceptions. Redshirt freshman Taylor Bennett was 13-for-25 for 158 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, while Kyle Manley, another redshirt freshman, saw limited action.

“Reggie did some good things, but he made a couple of big mistakes that he needs to avoid. But he’s seeing things better and he is getting better. There’s no question to me that he is getting better.

“I thought Taylor made a nice jump today. His accuracy is still not what it needs to be, but I think there is some technique we can correct that will improve his accuracy. And he’s making strides mentally.

“Kyle got banged around the first couple of plays he was in there, so we limited his reps today.”

Tech’s defense continues to look very strong. Sophomore cornerback Avery Roberson grabbed two interceptions with the second team, while cornerback Reuben Houston and safety Chris Reis also had pickoffs, Houston returning his for a touchdown.

Sophomore linebacker Philip Wheeler made several big plays.

“He’s got a tremendous nose for the ball, and he has the speed to get there,” said Gailey. “He’s so quick and strong that he’s a great blitzer. He’s making progress mentally. It’s not clicking quite as quickly as he would like or we would like, but he’ll get there. Our defense is challenging for offense, but it’s challenging for our players as well, and it takes time to learn it.”

The Jackets have workouts scheduled next week for Tuesday, Thursday and Friday before concluding spring drills with a final scrimmage next Saturday, April 16.

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