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The Man Behind The Man

Sept. 27, 2009

by Kristy Rivero
OSR Sting EXTRA

ATLANTA –As a backup to ACC Player of the Year Jonathan Dwyer, you might expect Preston Lyons to find a comfortable seat on the bench, prop his feet up, and maybe update his Facebook status during the game.

But the Georgia Tech redshirt sophomore is a graduate of The Marist School and spent a year at Colgate University, which leads the NCAA in Division I graduation rates among student athletes. So he’s no dummy. He takes full advantage of the practice time with Dwyer and the few chances he gets during a game.

Saturday, he doubled his season’s rushing total with three carries for 14 yards, and now has seven carries for 28 yards overall.

“It helps to watch him (Dwyer) during practice,” Lyons said. “He helps me a lot with technique and other stuff. To watch a guy so good, it makes it easy on me.”

Lyons was actually recruited by coach Paul Johnson when Johnson was at Navy. He decided on Colgate, but when Johnson moved to Tech in 2008, Lyons decided to make the move as well.”I ran this offense when I was in high school,” he said “It made sense for me to come here.”

After sitting our last season per NCAA transfer rules, Lyons has now played in three games in 2009.

Policy of Youth

Johnson has made it no secret that the best players will see action, regardless of class.

So it’s no surprise that four players made their first career start against the Tar Heels. Freshman wide receiver Stephen Hill, freshman linebacker Julian Burnett, sophomore defensive tackle Logan Walls and junior defensive end Anthony Egbuniwe all made their first collegiate starts. Hill and Burnett were the first freshmen to start this season.

“We’re a young football team,” Johnson said. “It’s encouraging they can out there and play. The more they play, the better they’ll get.”

Tyler Morgan made the crowd at Bobby Dodd Stadium ooh and aah with his tackle on Da’Norris Searcy.

Chandler Anderson’s first punt boomed to the 8-yard line and Morgan stopped Searcy cold. With the play, he became the seventh true freshman to see action for the Jackets this season and the first non-scholarship true freshman to do it.

His play was so unexpected the announcement over the P.A. system misidentified him.

Maybe it was because he wasn’t even listed on the game day roster (which by the way has 81 players on it). What might be more unexpected is the position he plays. How many tackles on a punt return are made by the long snapper? But the 6-3, 190-pound Morgan played wide receiver at Whitewater High School in Fayetteville in addition to his long snapping duties, so he’s not afraid to be physical.

“I snapped the ball and looked up and there was no one in front of me,” said Morgan. “The guy in front of him (Searcy) didn’t see me and I ran right by him and just made the hit.”

Morgan had an opportunity to play wide receiver at some smaller schools, but he wanted to be part of big program and his long snapping skills allowed him to do that.

When Johnson opened the position to tryouts this past week, Morgan saw his chance.

“When I looked on Monday and saw my name number one on the depth chart I was pretty excited,” Tyler said. “I’ve been waiting my whole life for this. To get to the next level and play big time college football. Now it’s just about staying consistent. I’ve put a lot of work in and I’m glad it paid off.”

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