Sept. 15, 2004
ATLANTA–It’s just two games into the season, but Chris Reis, Georgia Tech’s safety-turned-linebacker, has shown an affinity for his new position.
The 6-1, 218-pound junior from Roswell, Ga., is leading the Atlantic Coast Conference in tackles with 24. He began his career at linebacker with 14 hits against Samford, helping Tech hold the Bulldogs to just 42 yards rushing, then added 10 tackles against Clemson.
Reis, 6-1, 218, made the move to linebacker in the spring after two seasons as a backup safety and special teams standout. Last fall he collected 37 tackles with six tackles for loss and two sacks. He also had two pass breakups, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
“It’s probably nothing short of amazing,” said Tech head coach Chan Gailey of Reis’ transition to linebacker. “He really has a nose for the football.
“I had a guy that has been around Tech football for a long time telling me that he is just the ideal Georgia Tech football player. Hard nosed, tough, can run, will hit people, great instincts. All those things that are allowing him to be around the football. And he’s making the tackles when he gets there. He’s not missing many either.”
Reis and the Georgia Tech defense face another test week as the Yellow Jackets (2-0, 1-1 ACC) travel to Chapel Hill, N.C., to take on North Carolina (1-1, 0-1 ACC) Saturday at 6 p.m. in a non-televised contest at Kenan Stadium.
Another Yellow Jacket who is perhaps Tech’s most improved player on offense is senior wide receiver Levon Thomas.
Through two games, Thomas has already eclipsed his totals for all of last season. The College Park, Ga., native leads Tech with 11 catches for 154 yards. Last season, he caught 10 passes for 101 yards.
Thomas had career highs with eight catches for 100 yards in Tech’s win over Clemson. His 19-yard touchdown catch with 4:36 remaining was the first of Tech’s three touchdowns in the final five minutes. He also had a 32-yard kickoff return to help set up a late Tech touchdown.
“The only thing that was keeping him from being a good wide receiver was consistency in catching the football,” said Gailey. “He went out and worked on it and came back and has done a great job. He has done a great job running with ball after the catch. I think when he started catching the ball consistently, his whole confidence level has taken a step up.
“He has practiced and played like a starter since the whole preseason and into the first two ballgames. It’s been fun to watch him, a lot of fun to watch him. From where he has been the two years prior to this to see where he is now is great fun.”
Sophomore quarterback Reggie Ball has confidence in Thomas’ ability.
“It started this summer,” said Ball. ” I knew he would step up because it was his last year and he didn’t get that many reps last year during the season. I know Levon and just watching him work out this summer I knew that he was anxious and ready for the season.”