ATLANTA -- The first week of training camp is over for Georgia Tech, and wide receiver DeAndre Smelter and A-back Tony Zenon were two of the offensive standouts.
Smelter, a senior from Tattnall Square, continued to cement his role as an emerging leader on the team. Zenon, a senior from Albany, is making a play to replace Robbie Godhigh as the play-maker among the A-back contenders.
It seemed as if Zenon and Smelter came up with a big play each day during practice.
“Everything’s good,” Zenon said after Saturday’s scrimmage. “I’ve been here long enough to know what I’m supposed to do. I don’t have to think much, just go out and have fun and try to make a play.”
Monday, he caught a pair of long passes from quarterback Justin Thomas, the same day Smelter went over the middle to make a notable catch during 11-on-11 drills.
In Tuesday’s 7-on-7 drills, Thomas connected with Zenon and Smelter for long yardage. Wednesday, it was Smelter with another grab during 11-on-11 drills who kept the chains moving and Zenon who hit the corner for a big gain. Zenon had another long pass reception Thursday.
In Saturday’s scrimmage, Zenon posted a 15-yard slant on a third-and-9 and added a 50-yard touchdown run. Smelter had two receptions (11 and 27 yards) on the first possession that set up a field goal. He later caught an 11-yard pass from Tim Byerly.
“We tried to get (Smelter) the ball early, and he showed up,” head coach Paul Johnson said.
Zenon (5-foot-8, 174 pounds) is one of the fastest players on the team. He has an ability to change direction and make defenders miss. He played in 11 games last season and made one start, with 14 carries for 35 yards and one 6-yard reception. In 2012, he carried 31 times for 193 yards, a 6.2-yard average, and one touchdown, along with seven receptions for 195 yards, a 27.9-yard average.
Smelter (6-3, 225) became Vad Lee’s go-to receiver last season and is quickly establishing the same relationship with quarterback Justin Thomas. He had 21 receptions for 345 yards, a 16.4-yard average, and four touchdowns as a junior in his return to football.
The scrimmage Saturday was open only to season ticket holders and the players’ families. The Yellow Jackets will not practice Sunday, the first off day since camp began July 31.
The first week was rather uneventful, with no serious injuries suffered. Defensive lineman Shawn Green and Patrick Gamble and offensive lineman Trey Braun sat out a day of practice with injuries that Johnson said were not serious.
In Saturday’s scrimmage, Thomas played only the first series and B-back Zach Laskey did not participate. Johnson said the move was precautionary and added, “If it would have been a game, they would probably have played.”
The defense forced three straight three-and-outs after allowing a field goal on the opening drive. Defensive lineman Pat Gamble had two sacks and the defense forced three turnovers -- an interception from Lynn Griffin and fumble recoveries by Corey Griffin and Tyler Stargel. Griffin, a redshirt freshman from Tyrone, also had a key stop on A-back Broderick Snoddy to end a drive and made another play on quarterback Matthew Jordan near to goal line that forced a field goal try.