Shortly after Georgia Tech’s spring practice began in March, Dennis Andrews did not fill fellow A-back B.J. Bostic with awe. Specifically, Bostic said, Andrews played slow.
The reaction was different last week when the Yellow Jackets scrimmaged for the third time, two weeks after the first scrimmage.
Said Bostic of Andrews, “He showed me something Saturday.”
Not just Bostic. Moving with confidence and running smoothly, Andrews was one of the more noticeable players in the scrimmage, tearing off a 60-yard run, scoring on a 10-yard carry and logging a couple of other productive plays.
“He needs to be more consistent on assignments and knowing where to go and that kind of thing, but he’s got some ability,” coach Paul Johnson said.
Andrews, a rising redshirt freshman who arrived on campus in January 2012 as a quarterback, has inserted himself into perhaps the most heated position battle of spring practice — the competition to replace A-back Orwin Smith.
“We all want to play, and I feel like if we see somebody else do something good, that just makes us want to do something good, too,” Andrews said. “It’s competitive, but it’s like we’re all behind each other.”
With returning starter Robert Godhigh penciled in at one A-back spot, Synjyn Days, Deon Hill, Tony Zenon, Bostic and Andrews are competing for the other. On Monday, they welcomed Charles Perkins, who moved over from B-back, at least for the time being.
“I’m really pushing for” the starting job, Bostic said. “If I get it, I’m going to be real pleased. If not, I’m going to work hard to get it.”
Smith, who hopes to hear his name called at the NFL draft next week, leaves a considerable legacy as one of the more dangerous players in school history. He averaged 9.3 yards per carry, more than any player in ACC history with at least 1,000 rushing yards.
Except for Andrews, who switched to A-back after last year’s spring practice, all of the aspirants have playing experience, as early enrollee Donovan Wilson appears headed for a redshirt season.
Days converted from quarterback last fall and came on strong at the end of the season. In the estimation of A-backs coach Lamar Owens, Hill has been consistent this spring, perhaps Owens’ most valued trait. Bostic showed big-play ability last season, but needs to develop that consistency, Owens said. The shifty Zenon has been out recovering from surgery. That leaves Andrews, from Tallahassee, Fla., for whom a light went on at practice Friday.
Andrews said that “when they called the play, when I went to the line of scrimmage, I knew exactly what to do. That kind of cleared it up for Saturday.”
Given the depth, a rotation at A-back of three or more players is a possibility. Presumably, the winners of the A-back derby will be the most consistent and versatile in the group. Owens said he tells the players that what he would love is to be able to send in a player and be so confident in his ability that he doesn’t have to worry about what play is called.
Johnson said Monday that he probably has an idea of a pecking order, but won’t divulge it until he meets with the players after spring practice. Fans can judge for themselves at Tech’s spring game Friday night at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
“I don’t know everything yet, and I feel like I’m just now starting to come out of my shell a little bit,” Andrews said.