April 5, 2006
ATLANTA–With Georgia Tech a week into spring football practice, senior Mansfield Wrotto continues to make his transition from defensive tackle to offensive tackle.
Head coach Chan Gailey has been pleased with his progress, but Wrotto himself gets frustrated at times as he learns his new position.
“The first few days are easier because we didn’t have a lot in,” said Gailey. “Now that more is going in, it’s starting to pile up on him. He just needs to play. Coaches don’t want to allow for that; you want perfect execution all the time. And Mansfield has those same expectations of himself. But we realize there’s a learning curve.”
The 6-3, 310-pounder moves from defensive tackle, where he has started 32 games over the last three seasons to right tackle, where he joins four returning starters on the Tech offensive line.
“I’m learning the ropes,” said Wrotto. “I think I already have the plays down, now I’m trying to learn the technique. I think that’s the more difficult part.
“It’s been frustrating at times because I’m trying to impress the coaches and I’m trying to succeed so badly. You know what to do, but the hard part is implementing it with your body. But I’m getting better. I think after going through spring practice, working with Coach (Joe) D’Alessandris, and working hard over the summer, I’ll complete the transition by fall camp.”
Joe Gaston, a rising senior who was in line to be Tech’s starting strong safety, has sustained a serious knee injury that likely will cause him to miss the entire 2006 season. The Marietta, Ga., native is eligible for a redshirt year and could return for 2007.
Gaston’s injury means that junior Jamal Lewis, who had been slated as a starter at cornerback opposite returnee Kenny Scott, is now working at strong safety, with junior Pat Clark now the frontrunner at cornerback, along with junior Avery Roberson and sophomore Jahi Word-Daniels.
Senior quarterback Reggie Ball is being held out of practice this week with a minor injury but is expected to return Monday.
“It’s just a strain,” said Gailey. “We’re holding him out more than anything. If he had to play tomorrow, he could, but we’re going to hold him the rest of the week so he can get well.”
With Ball sidelined, sophomore backup Taylor Bennett is trying to make the most of the extra repetitions.
“Every time somebody doesn’t practice, it gives somebody else an opportunity,” said Gailey. “Taylor has been practicing very, very well. He’s been a very pleasant surprise this spring. His accuracy has been a good positive.”
Tech continues spring practice with a Friday workout at 4 p.m.