Dec. 10, 2014
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson was selected as the 2014 Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year and seven Yellow Jackets earned All-ACC honors, as selected by the league’s 14 head coaches.
Five were named to the second team, including DL Adam Gotsis, RB Zach Laskey, OG Shaquille Mason, WR DeAndre Smelter and QB Justin Thomas. Tech’s third-team selections were S Jamal Golden and LB Quayshawn Nealy. RB Synjyn Days earned honorable mention.
Johnson, who was also named the ACC Coach of the Year by the media, led Georgia Tech to the ACC Coastal Division title. After being picked fifth in the division’s preseason poll, the 12th-ranked Yellow Jackets went 10-3 overall, 6-2 in league play and are headed to the Capital One Orange Bowl for the second time in seven seasons under Johnson.
Ten of the league’s coaches selected Johnson, who was also named ACC Coach of the Year in 2008 and 2009.
This marks the third year for an All-ACC team selected by the coaches.
Gotsis ranks second among Tech defensive linemen with 32 tackles (21 solo), 5.5 tackles for loss, and 2.0 sacks. The junior from Australia has also blocked a pair of kicks.
Although missing three games due to injury, Laskey has helped bolster Tech’s ACC-leading running game. The senior from Peachtree City, Ga., has rushed for a career high 788 yards and nine touchdowns in 10 games, including two 100-yard efforts. He rushed for 140 yards and three touchdowns in a win at then-No. 9 Georgia.
Mason, a 2013 first-team All-ACC selection, has been Tech’s highest-graded offensive lineman in every game. The Columbia, Tenn., senior has been named ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week three times this season. Mason has made 37 consecutive starts, the longest streak by any current Yellow Jacket.
Smelter leads Tech in receptions (34), yards (715), and receiving TDs (seven). Earlier this year, the senior from Macon, Ga., became the 21st 1,000-yard receiver in school history.
Thomas has emerged as one of the ACC’s best dual-threat quarterbacks. The sophomore, first-year starter leads the Jackets with 965 rushing yards – the third-most by a Georgia Tech quarterback. He ranks eighth nationally in Total QBR (79.3), with 17 TD passes to just five interceptions. This season, the Prattville, Ala., native became the sixth Tech QB to rush for 1,000 yards in a career.
Golden finished tied for second in the ACC with four interceptions, including one returned 85 for a touchdown in a win over Clemson. The junior from Wetumpka, Ala., is Tech’s sixth-leading tackler (53) and has forced a pair of fumbles.
Nealy, who has 90 tackles and 6.0 tackles for loss, is one of only six Power-5 players with multiple defensive touchdowns in 2014 (one interception, one fumble return). The senior from Lakeland, Fla., ranks eighth nationally with three fumble recoveries, while his eight career interceptions are tied for the most among active non-DBs in the nation.
Days comprised the other half of the Yellow Jackets’ potent B-back tandem with Laskey. The senior from Marietta, Ga., posted three straight 100-yard rushing efforts and has totaled 753 yards and six touchdowns this season. He scored three touchdowns versus Florida State in the Dr Pepper ACC Championship Game.
No. 12 Georgia Tech faces No. 7 Mississippi State (10-2) in the 2014 Capital One Orange Bowl on New Year’s Eve in Miami. The game kicks at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN at Sun Life Stadium. Click here for ticket information.
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Honorable Mention (Points)
Synjyn Days, RB (7)