Parker Braun has put himself in position to be the next exceptional offensive lineman produced at Georgia Tech.
The sophomore broke into the starting lineup as a true freshman and started the final eight games of the 2016 season. He became a dependable, successful blocker at left guard and performed well enough to be named to ESPN’s True Freshman All-America Team.
Now he enters the spring camp as the centerpiece for what is expected to be a young group of lineman capable of getting results.
“Not just this year, but in years to come,” Braun said. “I’m excited about the freshman class coming in for 2017; we’ve got some good athletes there. I think we’ll have a lot of success as a line. It’s exciting to be next to a bunch of young guys, and Andy (Marshall) the older guy lead the group and helping us out.”
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There’s a lot to like about Braun. He’s able to express himself and enjoys a good laugh, but when it comes down to football, he’s a hard-nosed player who is all business. He made a commitment to get faster and stronger during the offseason and feels like he has been successful. Braun said he would lift weights three days each week and run and do conditioning work the other two days.
“We didn’t max out, but I definitely feel bigger and stronger,” said Braun, who will play at a “comfortable” 275 pounds.
Braun is one of six returning offensive linemen who made starts for the Yellow Jackets last season. Gone are center Freddie Burden, who finished his playing career, and tackles Trey Klock and Eason Fromayan. Klock decided to transfer in order to be closer to his family in Pennsylvania, and Fromayan opted to skip his final year of eligibility and pursue a career in NASCAR.
That leaves seniors Shamire Devine and Andrew Marshall, junior Will Bryan and sophomores Kenny Cooper and Jahaziel Lee.
“I’m looking forward to seeing all the guys,” Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson said. “We played some freshmen, especially on the offensive line. Parker, Jahaziel and Kenny Cooper, those three guys can be as good as anybody we’ve had here if they continue to grow.”
Cooper, out of Sonoraville in Calhoun, played five games and had one start as a true freshman, and Jacksonville’s Lee played 10 games and started three. Both are expected to be in the starting rotation.
Bryan, a Franklin County product, has been a solid player at right guard. He started six games as a freshman and 10 games in 2016,
Marshall has been a versatile contributor since his freshman season. The West Forsyth product started two games at left tackle and six games at right tackle and missed two games with injuries. He’s also a capable backup at center.
Devine (6-foot-7, 370) remains the mystery man. The Tri-Cities product has struggled to get his weight under control and live up to his NFL potential. He started seven games but eventually lost his starting job to Bryan.
The Yellow Jackets return to practice Wednesday afternoon as they continue to work toward the annual spring game April 21 at Bobby Dodd Stadium.