ATLANTA (July 27) – Georgia Tech’s 2000 football season officially gets underway as the Rambling Wreck freshmen report to campus on Tuesday, Aug. 1.
The class includes 20 scholarship freshmen and eight walk-ons. A 21st freshman, center Matt Graviet (Lewes, Del.) will report with the varsity because he was enrolled for spring practice.
The newcomers will hold morning and afternoon practices on Wednesday (9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.) and Thursday (9 a.m. and 4 p.m.) and then go through academic orientation on Friday, the day the Tech varsity players report. After Media Day on Saturday, Aug. 5 at 4 p.m., the first full-squad practice is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 7. Tech opens the season Aug. 27 at Virginia Tech in the BCA Bowl (8 p.m., ESPN2).
“I’ve always found that the further away from the ball that you are, the easier it is to play early because your athletic ability takes over,” said Tech head coach George O’Leary, who begins his sixth full season. “Something separates the ones who are able to play right away, whether it’s speed, strength or mental toughness.
“The biggest thing is the mental toughness. You’re looking for the kids who, when they get to a wall, they climb it. They don’t stand there looking at it.”
Tech signed two highly-regarded quarterbacks in Brandon Sumner of Daytona Beach, Fla., and Mark Logan of Greenwood, S.C., who will join four returning signal callers as Tech seeks a replacement for Heisman Trophy runnerup and four-year starter Joe Hamilton. Junior George Godsey (Tampa, Fla.) enters camp as the starter and is expected to be pushed by redshirt freshman Andy Hall (Cheraw, S.C.), but O’Leary said that it will difficult for one of the true freshmen to learn Tech’s offensive system quickly enough to factor in that battle.
“I think it’s very difficult for a freshman to make an impact as a quarterback at this level,” said O’Leary. “If you’re just one-dimensional, run all option, run all power-game, just a dropback game, you possibly can do it, but when you try to do a lot of different things, I think it’s very difficult to ask a freshman to be able to do that.”
One position at which it is likely that one or more freshmen will make an impact is linebacker, where Tech welcomes three outstanding prospects in Parade Magazine all-America Hobie Holiday (Warner Robins, Ga.), Keyaron Fox (Atlanta, Ga.), the Most Valuable Player in last month’s Georgia-Florida High School All-Star Game, and Daryl Smith (Albany, Ga.).
“This is an outstanding group of linebackers, all from the state of Georgia,” said O’Leary. “I expect all three of those players to have a chance to get on the field.”
Skill players who will be vying for playing time include tailback Jimmy Dixon (Arlington, Texas), receivers Nate Curry (Miami, Fla.), Jonathan Smith (Argyle, Ga.) and Brian Lumar (Edgard, La.), and defensive backs Tony Hollings (Jeffersonville, Ga.), Jonathan Cox (Chicago, Ill.) and Sterling Green (Hyattsville, Md.).
The class also includes tight ends J.P. Foschi (Old Brookville, N.Y.) and Darius Williams (Clarkston, Ga.) and fullback/H-back Johnathan Jackson (Jacksonville, Fla.).
On the line of scrimmage, Tech welcomes offensive linemen Jeremy Phillips (Watkinsville, Ga.) and Leon Robinson (Garden City, Ga.) and defensive linemen Reggie Koon (Miramar, Fla.), Alfred Malone (Frisco City, Ala.) and Chirod Williams (Jacksonville, Fla.).
“This is a talented group of freshmen that our assistant coaches did a great job of recruiting,” said O’Leary. “Now we’re anxious to get started and work with them and see if they are what we recruited.”
IMPORTANT DATESAug. 1 Freshmen ReportAug. 4 Varsity ReportAug. 5 MEDIA DAY (4 p.m.)Aug. 7 First full squad practiceAug. 27 Season Opener at Virginia Tech