Georgia Tech A-backs ready to build off 2016 success


The experience on Georgia Tech’s offense lies primarily with its A-backs.

With underclassmen or inexperienced starters sprinkled throughout other position groups, the top three returning A-backs are coming off an impressive 2016.

Clinton Lynch, Qua Searcy and J.J. Green helped develop one of the most explosive offenses in Paul Johnson’s tenure a season ago. Lynch and Searcy, now both juniors, formed a double-trouble duo who became downfield threats in the passing game and on the perimeter. Green, now a senior, provided the consistent blocking on the edge that’s critical from the position.

Returning from all the success of last season, the A-backs group is ready to lead the team again.

“We’re always the ones talking, we’re always the ones trying to bring the energy,” Lynch said. “We always have to get the offense going no matter what, so we just have to bring the energy and keep it moving.”

Lynch underwent unspecified surgery in the offseason and missed spring workouts. Johnson has said he’s 100 percent and after Monday’s practice — the final day before players put on pads for the first time — Lynch confirmed that he’s completely recovered.

“Amazing … I feel blessed to be back out there,” Lynch said. “I missed all spring. It was very humbling, but I’m glad to be back out there. It took me a couple days to get going, but I think I’m winding back down and getting in the groove of things.”

Lynch’s health will be a key. He provided the explosive playmaking that drove the Jackets’ offense in 2016. He averaged 11.2 yards per rush and 30.6 yards per catch, while Searcy averaged 5.9 yards per rush and 18.3 yards per catch.

As a team, Tech ranked fourth in the nation with 10.5 yards per pass attempt and 16th in the nation with 5.49 yards per rush. It finished third in the country for the most 50-plus-yard runs (9) and eighth for most 50-plus-yard plays from scrimmage (16).

“We have a group to where whenever Coach calls a play and needs someone to make a play, someone will make a play,” Searcy said. “Whether it’s me, Clinton or J.J. … or even the younger guys like Nathan (Cottrell) and Omahri (Jarrett), whoever’s name is called, someone will make a play.”

Asked who could potentially back up the three main returnees, Johnson added one more name to the group that had separated himself from the others.

“You’ve got four guys that are probably separated, with Nathan Cottrell in that group,” Johnson said. “And then Omahri Jarrett’s played and then depending on what we do with TaQuon (Marshall).”

Cottrell primarily was used on special teams as a return man in 2016 and had just one carry for six yards. Now a sophomore, he’ll look to step into the A-backs group that Johnson rotates frequently. He suffered an ACL tear in 2015.

“He’s back physically,” Johnson said. “He had an OK spring. He was a little behind, but I think now he’s to the point where he understands and he can play full speed. And he’s got good speed … he can run.”

Marshall, who came to Tech as a quarterback, could be the other player to filter into the rotation, depending on how the quarterback battle goes. Johnson said he won’t decide on where he will play until Tech solidifies its quarterback situation over the next few weeks. Marshall, listed on the preseason depth chart as the No. 2 quarterback, played nine games at A-back as a freshman in 2015.

Matthew Jordan, who is coming off foot surgery but is still the favorite to win the job at quarterback, has liked what he’s seen from the A-backs in practice.

“They’ve all looked good, he said. “We’ve got a couple new guys … they’re just trying to get adjusted … things like that. But overall, they look good.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

Four top-10 boys teams knocked out in 6A first round
Four top-10 boys teams knocked out in 6A first round
Five teams ranked in the Class AAAAAA boys and girls basketball top 10s last week were knocked out in the first round of the state tournament, but the damage was particularly widespread in the boys tournament, where No. 4 Cambridge, No. 5 Stephenson, No. 8 Creekview and No. 10 South Cobb were eliminated. The biggest surprise was Region 4 champion Stephenson&rsquo...
All the curling stones used in every Olympics have come from the same small island
All the curling stones used in every Olympics have come from the same small island

Few people quite understand what exactly curling is, but every four years, people across the world suddenly find themselves invested in a sport that, at first glance, can be described as people pushing rocks across ice with brooms. For those who are using this year’s go-around to learn what they can about the sport, here’s a fun fact...
LEADOFF: Hawks’ local TV ratings down 50 percent, study shows
LEADOFF: Hawks’ local TV ratings down 50 percent, study shows

The Hawks’ record – tied for worst in the NBA -- has taken a predictably big bite out of the team’s local TV ratings this season.  Ratings for Hawks games on Fox Sports Southeast have fallen 50 percent in the Atlanta TV market from the same point last season, according to SportsBusiness Journal’s  semiannual analysis...
Norovirus precautions overtake Olympic tradition
Norovirus precautions overtake Olympic tradition

The handshake may be replaced by a fist-bump at the Winter Games in Pyeongchang and it has nothing to do with how old customs are giving way to new in a rapidly evolving world. In this instance, blame the norovirus. Nowhere does the traditional handshake more visibly signify what the Olympics are supposed to be about than after hockey games, when opponents...
The 22nd-largest team at the Olympics: Zamboni drivers
The 22nd-largest team at the Olympics: Zamboni drivers

The Winter Olympics are a global competition, with athletes representing 92 countries. But one event is dominated by Americans and Canadians like no other: Zamboni driving. It is conspicuous, this army of 37 mostly imported Zamboni drivers, doing their quiet, mesmerizing work of resurfacing the ice, back and forth on their big machines, when the action...
More Stories