THE FLATS – Defensive back A.J. Gray and offensive lineman Jake Stickler will no longer play football at Georgia Tech due to medical issues, head coach Paul Johnson announced on Monday.
Gray (heart condition) and Stickler (undisclosed) will be classified as medical non-counters, meaning that both will remain on scholarship to attend Georgia Tech but not count towards the Yellow Jackets’ 85 allowable grants-in-aid for football.
“I’m extremely saddened for A.J., Jake and our team but, in the big picture, health always trumps football,” Johnson said. “I’m grateful that A.J. and Jake will be able to continue to attend Georgia Tech and earn their degrees.”
Gray was a two-year starter at free safety and appeared in 33 games over three seasons as a Yellow Jacket. He finishes his career with 147 tackles (113 solo), six tackles for loss, a sack, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries. He ranked third on the team in tackles as a sophomore in 2016 (72) and a junior in 2017 (54). He was named ACC Defensive Back of the Week after recording two interceptions in a 33-7 win over North Carolina on Sept. 30, 2017.
Stickler appeared in 20 games over three seasons at Georgia Tech and made 10 starts at right tackle as a junior in 2017. He was an integral part of an offensive line that helped pave the way for Tech to rush for 307.4 yards per game (fifth nationally) in ’17. Behind Stickler and the rest of the offensive front, QB TaQuon Marshall (1,146 yards) and BB KirVonte Benson (1,053 yards) both rushed for at least 1,000 yards last season, marking only the second time in program history that the Jackets had two 1,000-yard rushers.