In comparing the start with the new 3-4 defense would it be fair to compare to the start with the new offense when Johnson came to Georgia Tech? The question many are asking is will the learning curve be the same? "There are some different calls and some different techniques and terminologies," said Johnson. "The bottom line is that you have to shed blocks and tackle people." In spite of the changes Coach Johnson feels the better players will come to the forefront quickly.
The spring will be a time for some to prove themselves. The real test will come when the players put on the pads and the hitting starts. One of those players that will try to make an impression is Jordan Luallen. With Joshua Nesbitt out for the spring and Jaybo Shaw transferring to Georgia Southern, the spring will be the time for Luallen, David Sims, and Tevin Washington to battle for the backup job behind Nesbitt. As it the case with all positions the veterans will start at the top of the depth chart and the younger players will use the spring to move up the charts. "I'll be getting a lot of reps and hoping to make my mark," said Luallen. "I'll try to do the best I can and move up the depth chart if I can."
The game plan at quarterback is to start with Tevin with the first string as spring begins. "They're not going to throw me and David in with the first string because we really haven't run the offense too much," added Jordan. "Tevin is more advanced and he's run the offense a lot more." The plan will be to have Jordan and Sims alternate in and out with the second string.
In preparation for the start of spring Jordan has been spending time in the weight room. He played at 209 and is going into the spring at 220. "That's going to take a little bit of getting used to. the added weight" Luallen feels he'll get more comfortable with each practice. In spite of the added weight, Jordan feels he still has his quickness.
The one thing that has been constant with Georgia Tech and spring practice had been seeing Giff Smith on the field working with the defensive line. That has changed this spring with Smith moving to the Buffalo Bills and Andy McCollum taking his place with the move from North Carolina State. McCollum and the players are quickly getting acquainted with each other." Everything's a learning process for us right now."
The one position that has everyone's interest is the nose tackle. "It will involve a lot of work every day until we can find the guys that can do it," said McCollum. "We have Logan (Walls) and TJ (Barnes) and we may roll other people in there." One of those possibilities is JC Lanier who is starting out at defensive end. "As soon as he gets healthy enough to start swinging around he'll be a guy we'll look at."
There are some young players that are trying to make their mark on the line. Emmanuel Dieke and Euclid Cummings are two of those players. "Every day is going to be a big day for them," said McCollum. "There's a lot of fundamentals and technique stuff they have to continue working on in practice." The real test will be when the players get into pads. "Right now there's a lot of communicating and terminology but you make the team in pads."
McCollum also has the job of recruiting coordinator. The philosophy hasn't changed with Andy taking over. The staff will continue to recruit Georgia hard. "Any philosophy starts with the boss and that's Coach Johnson." Georgia has some of the best high school football in the country and some of the best high school coaches. "We have to get guys that fit what we do and fit what Georgia Tech stands for and want to be part of something special."