Georgia Tech

Kerr is the latest freshman to contribute for Ga. Tech

Virginia Tech's Cam Phillips lies on the field as Georgia Tech's Ajani Kerr, center left, celebrates with teammates Corey Griffin, left, and Lawrence Austin after Kerr broke up a pass intended for Phillips in the end zone late in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game.
Virginia Tech's Cam Phillips lies on the field as Georgia Tech's Ajani Kerr, center left, celebrates with teammates Corey Griffin, left, and Lawrence Austin after Kerr broke up a pass intended for Phillips in the end zone late in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game. AP

You can add cornerback Ajani Kerr’s name to the list of first-year players who’ve made a contribution to the Georgia Tech football team this season.

Kerr, a redshirt freshman from Powder Springs, was thrown into last week’s game against Virginia Tech when senior Step Durham was injured. Kerr didn’t have much chance to ease into the situation. He was thrust into a close contest and had to defend Virginia Tech’s all-time leading receiver.

“They got their No. 1 guy, and they’re going to go at me when they see fresh blood,” Kerr said. “Just being ready.”

The test came on a fourth-and-1. Rather than pound the ball and try to get a first down, Virginia Tech gambled and threw the ball deep toward the post. Kerr and Virginia Tech’s Cam Phillips both went up for the ball, and Kerr was able to knock it down, essentially preserving the win for Georgia Tech.

“Ajani is an excellent player when he’s focused and ready to play,” Georgia Tech senior safety Corey Griffin said. “He was prepared. He was ready, and I take my hat off to him.”

It was the second pass breakup of the season for Kerr, who has played a reserve role in nine games and mostly played on special teams.

“We’ve been going through the season, everybody getting reps, just being ready for when your time comes,” Kerr said.

Several other freshmen have been ready when their time has come this season.

A week earlier against Virginia, true freshman Bruce Jordan-Swilling led the team in tackles, intercepted a pass, caused a fumble and recovered a fumble.

Freshman linebacker T.D. Roof has contributed all season, particularly on special teams. He has played eight games and has 11 tackles, two tackles for loss and two sacks.

Freshman defensive tackle Antwan Owens has played in eight games. He has a sack and one tackle for loss.

Freshman B-back Jerry Howard hasn’t gotten to play as much as expected because of the production of starter KirVonte Benson. Howard did not get a carry against Virginia Tech, but he has rushed for 175 yards on 22 carries and two touchdowns.

Freshman Brenton King took over as placekicker after Shawn Davis torn his ACL. King is 5-for-6 on field goals, with the longest being 42, and is 12-for-12 on extra points.

Freshman Pressley Harvin III has been the punter all season. He averages 43.8 yards per punt.

Mitchell gets ACC honor: Linebacker Brant Mitchell returned from injury in a big way. The junior had nine tackles in his most extensive action in a month and was named the ACC co-Linebacker of the Week.

Mitchell also had one sack, 1.5 tackles for loss and broke up a pass in the 28-22 win over Virginia Tech.

Mitchell sustained a lower-body injury in the second half against Miami, missed the Wake Forest game, played one series against Clemson, and missed the Virginia game.

“You know, to be out for a little while teaches you not to take things for granted,” Mitchell said. “I’m happy to be out with my guys and win.”

Game time for UGA game undetermined: Kickoff for the season finale against Georgia not been determined. The game will be played either at noon or 8 p.m. and shown on ABC.

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