ATLANTA — Thirty-one Georgia Tech newcomers checked in Friday to begin their careers with the Rambling Wreck football program. After moving into the dormitories, the group spent most of the day getting fitted for equipment and undergoing physical testing in preparation for Saturday’s first practice.
“It’s great to get the freshmen on campus,” said Tech head coach George O’Leary, who enters his fifth season at the helm of the Rambling Wreck program. “It’s a good-looking group with a lot of enthusiasm, and hopefully they work well to go along with that.
“It’s an exciting time of year for them, and they’re all eager to get going.”
The new Yellow Jackets hit the field for the first time Saturday with workouts scheduled for 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. at Rose Bowl Field. They will also practice twice Monday before the Tech veterans report Tuesday. The first full-squad practices will be held next Thursday.
“Today their schedule is purely organizational as far as physicals and equipment. Tomorrow we’ll go on the field with them. We’ll practice twice Saturday and twice Monday, and then Tuesday is academic orientation.
The group of 23 scholarship student-athletes and eight walk-ons actually includes 30 freshmen and one junior college transfer. Three additional freshmen who enrolled last spring — quarterback Brian Camp (Dublin, Ohio), split end Roderick Middleton (Bonneau, S.C.) and defensive end Fred Wright (Lehigh Acres, Fla.) — will arrive with the varsity.
“I think it’s a good group,” said O’Leary. “We had one fellow come in and bench over 500 pounds and another fellow does 385. It’s an athletic-looking group.
“Our goal as coaches in those four practices is to find which athletes can help us when the varsity comes in Tuesday night,” he continued. “We’ll pencil them in somewhere in the depth chart so they get some reps, and then we can see if they continue to grow from what we saw the first couple of days of practice.”
In particular, O’Leary and his staff will be evaluating kickers Luke Manget (Conyers, Ga.) and Philip Newman (Marietta, Ga.) as they seek to fill starting positions at placekicker and punter.
“We want to get the kickers into a routine and put them in the mix right away, because we need to see what they’re all about,” said O’Leary.
One transfer joined the Tech program in punter Chris Morehouse (Vernon, Conn.), who played one season at Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania. The 6-2, 210-pounder led NCAA Division III with a 43.2-yard average as a freshman in 1998 and was named Rookie of the Year in the Middle Atlantic Conference Commonwealth League. He earned first-team all-America honors from Football Gazette and third-team Associated Press Little All-America accolades. Morehouse must sit out the 1999 season in accordance with NCAA transfer rules and then will have three years of eligibility beginning with the 2000 campaign.