April 14, 2006
ATLANTA–With all-America Calvin Johnson headlining the Georgia Tech receiving corps, this spring the Yellow Jackets look to develop pass-catching complements to the talented junior.
Johnson, the 6-4, 235-pounder from Tyrone, Ga., led the Jackets last fall with 54 catches for 888 yards and six touchdowns, but Tech graduated its second and third-leading receivers in Damarius Bilbo (40-591-2) and tailback P.J. Daniels (21-174-1). Last year’s fourth-leading receiver, Pat Clark (15-95-0), has moved to cornerback.
That leaves sophomore James Johnson as Tech’s top returnee after Calvin Johnson. The “other” Johnson had 14 receptions for 185 yards and two touchdowns last fall. He is slated as the starter opposite Calvin Johnson, but James has been sidelined by injury this spring.
Other receivers vying for playing time are seniors Chris Dunlap and Xavier McGuire, along with a pair of redshirt freshmen in Greg Smith and Martin Frierson. Also in the mix is sophomore walk-on Andrew Smith.
The two veterans each had two catches last fall. Neither has seen a lot of action on offense the last three years, but Dunlap has been a special teams contributor, making seven tackles last season.
“They have both made nice progress this spring practice,” said Gailey, “I’ve been very pleased, especially with Chris. The only thing that kept him from playing before was the catching the ball consistently, and now he’s doing that. He’s got great knowledge. We weren’t sure he could be a slot receiver, but he’s proving he can.
“Xavier has good size and he normally does a good job of catching the ball.”
The two freshmen both showed promise last fall on the scout team and have continued to progress this spring.
“They both still have a ways to go in learning what we’re doing,” said Gailey. “I think Greg has done a nice job of learning a couple of different positions. Martin is doing a nice job, too, but he has to become more disciplined in his route-running.”