Having three offensive-line returnees out with injury for spring practice might have been disastrous in previous seasons for Georgia Tech.
This spring, however, the Yellow Jackets are three deep with scholarship linemen, depth that they have not enjoyed.
“Before, we only had nine guys or so in each spring,” offensive line coach Mike Sewak said Monday, following Tech's first practice of the spring. “It was, Oh, man, can we get through it?”
The depth will not only allow Sewak and assistant line coach Ray Rychleski to not overuse players, but also foster a competitive environment in practice.
“But now, if you’re not getting it right, shoot, the next guy comes right in and does it,” Sewak said. “It’ll create good competition.”
Sewak is particularly eager for the spring with a number of younger players. The Jackets brought in six offensive linemen in the 2014 signing class, five of whom redshirted (Gary Brown, Trey Klock, Michael Preddy, Jake Stickler and Jake Whitley). Early-enrollee Will Bryan has also joined the group.
Extra time for them is the positive side of injuries to offensive tackle Chris Griffin and centers Freddie Burden and Andrew Marshall.
“We get to see why they came here and if they can play for us,” Sewak said. “That’s why you do spring football. And they’ll get plenty of reps.”
Michael Muns, Niko Anderson and Nick Brigham will take snaps at center, subbing for Burden and Marshall. Stickler and Klock will compete for spots on the depth chart at tackle, along with rising seniors Errin Joe and Bryan Chamberlain and rising sophomore Eason Fromayan. Bryan is also a tackle.
One of the more significant competitions will be between Shamire Devine and Brown for the starting guard spot vacated by All-American Shaquille Mason. Devine played increasing amounts over the course of last season. Brown was named the scout-team offensive player of the year last fall.
“Obviously, Shamire’s way ahead of Gary, but Gary, he’s a try-hard guy, so he’ll make (ground) up over time,” Sewak said.
The depth chart will remain fluid, Sewak said, through the first week of practice.
“We’ll do it, but you’ve got to show me that you can do it,” he said. “You’re not going to get appointed. You have to earn it.”
Etc. Sewak said that Bryan, the early enrollee, is “absolutely, positively one of the most eager football players you ever saw in your life.” He said that Bryan, in his first college practice, “wasn’t doing anything right but he was doing it fast.” … Sewak said he expects that, one of the seniors on the line, Braun, Chamberlain or Joe, will take a leadership role with the line by the end of spring. … Speaking of the redshirt freshmen, Sewak said that their pace was not up to standards in the first practice because “they really don’t know where they want to go. You can’t just kind of feel your way through the line of scrimmage.”