ATLANTA -- Everyone knows who’s going to throw the ball at Georgia Tech. That job belongs to junior Justin Thomas, and there’s no question about that.
But when it comes to who’s going to catch the ball, that’s a different matter.
Unlike last year, when the Yellow Jackets started the season with a pair of go-to receivers, they’re beginning this year with go-to questions. The two returnees at the position have played, but they don’t have the proven history that seniors DeAndre Smelter and Darren Waller had a year ago.
The two returners are junior Micheal Summers and sophomore Ricky Jeune. Summers played 14 games and had seven catches for 45 yards, a 6.4-yard average. Jeune played 12 games but did not have a reception.
Compare that to the Smelter-Warren combo, which had 61 catches for 1,157 yards and 13 touchdowns. Both players are currently fighting for positions on NFL rosters.
Despite the lack of an established record, Summers and Jeune are penciled in as the two starters for the Sept. 3 opener against Alcorn State. Thomas has made an extra effort to become familiar with his two receivers, getting together to throw as often as three times per week during the summer.
Summers is currently sidelined with an undisclosed injury but is expected to return in time for the opening game.
“We’d like to have him back a day or two early if he’s going to play,” Johnson said.
Jeune has been solid in camp but must produce during a game situation.
“I just go out there with the mindset that I’m going to work hard and get better,” Jeune said. “We’re just out there competing and getting better every day.”
The biggest move up the depth chart in preseason workouts has been Brad Stewart, a true freshman from Savannah who has shown the ability to catch the ball when thrown to him, plus block well enough to get by. Stewart was a last-minute addition to the 2015 signing class. He originally agreed to a greyshirt season but was promised a scholarship if one came open. Things worked out, and Stewart is likely to play a lot this season.
“It’s a big jumble after the first three,” head coach Paul Johnson said.
Sophomore Antonio Messick and senior Brandon Oliver emerged from the spring as the No. 2 receivers, but they have not done much to solidify their places. Freshman Christian Philpott has a chance to play, as does Jalen Johnson, a redshirt freshman who has been playing defensive back.
Johnson also played receiver in high school.
“We wanted to see if (Johnson) could beat the other guys out,” Johnson said. “He wasn’t going to play on defense.”
Of note: The team focused on four downs in Monday’s practice and worked on some two-point conversion plays. ... Johnson said the offense is rolling five or six A-backs through the drills each day. Broderick Snoddy is perceived as a starter at one spot, with the other still undecided. ... Johnson said a two-deep roster would be released Tuesday. ... The team will have a game-type scrimmage Thursday, take two days off and return Sunday for three days of preparation for the season opener.