With the team not even having had a full scrimmage yet, Georgia Tech’s competition at wide receiver is far from over. Not on paper, at any rate.
Following Wednesday’s practice, coach Paul Johnson said coaches will set the depth chart after the first scrimmage Saturday, but “in my mind, I kind of know the four or five guys that are probably going to play.”
In camp, there are seven scholarship wide receivers competing — Darren Waller, Corey Dennis, Travin Henry, Micheal Summers, DeAndre Smelter and freshmen Ricky Jeune and Antonio Messick. Not counting Anthony Autry, who is out for the season with an ACL tear, Waller is the only wide receiver on the roster with any catches (with eight), and he and Dennis are the only two who have played. Henry and Summers redshirted last season.
Later during his postpractice comments, he said “we’ll probably take five, maybe six receivers, and they’ll all get a chance to play.”
Smelter, who joined the football team after playing baseball for three years, apparently passed the first test — handling the contact of full-pads practices, which Tech began Monday. Smelter, who last played football in high school in the fall of 2009, said Monday that “it was fun out there” after his first practice in full pads.
“He’s a good athlete,” Johnson said. “He’s physical; he catches the ball well. He’s got a chance to play.”
Johnson said Henry, returning from an ACL tear, “hit the wall” in Wednesday’s practice, but “he’s got the ability. He’s probably going to play, too.”
Dennis, who has played special teams the past two seasons, also fell in the “got a chance to play” category.
Welcome return: Wide receivers coach Buzz Preston was back in the office after being out the past few weeks after contracting a blood infection from a surgical procedure. He has not been cleared to coach on the field yet. Joe Hamilton, part of the recruiting staff, continues to substitute for him on the practice field.
“It’s nice to get him back,” Johnson said. “I know his players were excited to see him back.”
Practice report: Tech practiced for the seventh consecutive day, going in full pads in the humid afternoon heat.
“They fought through it pretty good,” Johnson said.
The two-hour practice ended with 10 minutes of 11-on-11 scrimmaging. The defense held the advantage early before A-backs Dennis Andrews and Deon Hill popped 30-yard runs.
Other big plays from practice were a 40-yard fade pass from quarterback Tim Byerly to Jeune and a long pass from quarterback Vad Lee to Waller.
Injury report: Offensive tackle Ray Beno and outside linebacker Brandon Watts both missed practice again with unspecified injuries. Johnson said Beno, who was practicing at center with Jay Finch out recovering from shoulder surgery, should return by Saturday’s scrimmage or next week at the latest. Watts is considered day to day.
Quotable: Johnson was asked, in the wake of the Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel autograph scandal, if he had spoken to the team about the matter. Johnson said he had not.
Said Johnson, “I don’t think anybody wants any of our guys’ autographs.”
It was not the coach’s only bon mot of the day. From his Twitter account, Johnson saluted the Braves’ win streak, saying that they were “hotter than 2 goats in a pepper patch.”
First opponent: Elon, Tech’s opponent in the season opener Aug. 31 at Bobby Dodd Stadium, had its first practice in shoulder pads Wednesday.
“Right now, we’re a physical team,” coach Jason Swepson told the Elon website. “We have to maintain that for the next 20 practices.”