July 27, 2001
ATLANTA–Georgia Tech’s nationally-ranked football team opens preparations for the 2001 campaign on Tuesday, July 31 when the Yellow Jackets’ highly-regarded freshmen class reports to campus.
Twenty-two scholarship freshmen will report Tuesday, along with eight walk-ons. Two additional members of Tech’s 2001 class of signees–offensive linemen Gavin Tarquinio (Marietta, Ga.) and Garren Findlay (North Logan, Utah)–enrolled last winter and will report with the varsity players on Aug. 3.
The incoming freshmen will practice Wednesday and Thursday, twice each day, while the first full-squad workouts are scheduled for Monday, Aug. 6. Tech, ranked as high as sixth in preseason publications, opens the 2001 season against Syracuse in the Kickoff Classic, Aug. 26 in East Rutherford, N.J.
The class is made up of three quarterbacks, six offensive linemen (including the two already on campus), five defensive linemen, four linebackers, three defensive backs, one running back, one tight end and one receiver. In addition to seven signees from Georgia–all of whom were named to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Top 50 in the state–10 other states are represented, including five prospects from Florida, three from Louisiana, two from California, and one each from New Jersey, Ohio, Minnesota, Texas, Mississippi, Colorado and Utah.
“We’ve helped our football team in many areas, so I’m anxious to see what these freshmen can do,” said head coach George O’Leary, entering his seventh season at Georgia Tech. “We went out and secured a number of very talented athletes that will eventually help us. How soon will depend on them.
“I think this class is as talented and as athletic as any class that we’ve brought in, but that remains to be seen. The ones that play as freshmen are the ones who don’t act like freshmen.”
Tech welcomes three talented, athletic quarterbacks in Damarius Bilbo of Moss Point, Miss.–winner of the Dick Butkus Football Network National High School Player of the Year award–Rahshan Johnson of Middleburg Heights, Ohio, and lefty Dawan Landry of Ama, La.
“We brought in three very talented quarterbacks,” said O’Leary. “I think it’s difficult for a true freshman to come in and play the quarterback position right away, but all three are outstanding players and are very similar in what they can do as far as running and throwing the football. All three have the ability to play other positions, but all three will remain at quarterback unless they decide otherwise.”
O’Leary has always maintained that the “further you are from the ball, the easier it is to play early because your athletic ability takes over.”
Skill-position players who could compete for playing time include wide receiver Levon Thomas of College Park, Ga., defensive backs Reuben Houston of Peachtree City, Ga.–the Georgia AAAAA Player of the Year–Dennis Davis of Atco, N.J. and James Butler of Bainbridge, Ga. and running back Brian Johnson (Evans, Ga.).
Tech’s four freshmen linebackers include Tabugbo Anyansi of Austell, Ga., Gerris Bowers-Wilkinson of Oakland, Calif., E.J. Kuale of Daytona Beach, Fla., and Tony Hargrove of Punta Gorda, Fla.
The Yellow Jackets signed a total of 11 linemen. In addition to Tarquinio and Findlay, offensive linemen include Kyle Wallace (6-5, 280) of Suwanee, Ga., Nat Dorsey (6-6, 325) of New Orleans, La.–the largest member of the class–Andy Tidwell-Neal (6-4, 280) from Plymouth, Minn., and Brad Honeycutt (6-4, 290) of Mesquite, Texas, plus tight end Salih Besirevic (6-7, 260) of Denver, Colo.
Defensive linemen in the class include Travis Parker (6-3, 240) of Hacienda Heights, Calif., Eric Henderson (6-3, 255) of New Orleans, La., LeRon Lee (6-2, 265) of Fort Pierce, Fla., Omar Billy (6-2, 255) of Orlando, Fla., and Scott Wolf (6-4, 240) of Davie, Fla.