Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech signs on new tight end for first time in 11 years: ‘He’s an elite player’

Our favorite photos from Georgia Tech’s 2019 spring game

Telegraph photographer Jason Vorhees' favorite images from Georgia Tech football's 2019 spring game held Friday April 26.
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Telegraph photographer Jason Vorhees' favorite images from Georgia Tech football's 2019 spring game held Friday April 26.

One of the first items on Geoff Collins’ to-do list when he was hired as the Georgia Tech football coach was to find a tight end for his new offense. He was starting on the ground floor, since the team had not recruited or signed a tight end for 11 years.

The former offense run by Paul Johnson did not require a tight end. However, the position is essential in the new spread attack that Collins is installing this spring, so he looked frantically to find help.

His search was fruitful. Collins signed a standout who had been a former opponent and several players already on the roster volunteered to switch positions to ensure more playing time. Now that group is learning the playbook and preparing for the spring game on Friday.

“I think they’ve taken that and run with it,” said Chris Wiesehan, the assistant who coaches the tight ends. “They’re getting a lot of reps and they’re playing football. That’s what they came here to do.”

Wiesehan has one player with tight end experience in the fold. Tyler Davis graduated from UConn — when he battled against Temple when Collins was the coach — and was looking for a place to transfer and finish his final season of eligibility as a graduate student. It’s been a good match for both parties. Davis (6-foot-4, 243-pounds) has been learning the new system and mentoring the tight end want-to-be’s, those who are moving to a new position.

“He’s an elite player,” Wiesehan said. “We coached against him (at Temple). To get him here with his leadership role and his talent … his work ethic set the tone in the off-season and he carried that over into spring ball.”

Davis was a good player at UConn. As a senior he started 11 of 12 games and finished with 22 catches for 237 yards and six touchdowns, tied for the second-most by a tight end in the program’s history. He played 36 games with the Huskies and caught 47 passes.

When Davis heard that Collins had landed the Georgia Tech job, he kept his transfer options open. He didn’t hesitate when asked to come, even though he’d never even been to Atlanta and didn’t know anyone who lived there.

“I knew that when you play one of coach Collins’ team, it’s going to be a hard-nosed game,” Davis said. “They’d come out and smack you in the mouth. That’s the kind of culture coach Collins developed at the last place he was at and I knew that’s what it would be like here. Why not be a part of it?”

With a good season and proper development, Davis could wind up on the draft board for an NFL team. Until then he’s the most-likely starter at the new position and the unofficial player-coach for the group.

“That’s one of the reasons I came here, to try to set standards for the tight ends,” Davis said. “Hopefully, I’m doing a good job. They’re a bright group and they’re working their tails off every day. I’d go to war with them every day.”

The other tight end candidates are a mixture of players who are moving to a new position. Sophomore Josh Tukes and senior Tyler Cooksey are moving over from linebacker and junior Joseph Macrina is switching from B-back.

Cooksey expressed his desire to move to tight end the first time he met Collins.

“When we had our first meeting, I shook his hand and said, ‘I’m Tyler Cooksey. I’m your new tight end,’” Cooksey said.

That’s the sort of talk Wiesehan likes to hear.

“It’s exciting because they want to do those things,” he said. “It just empowers you as a coach because you’re not pulling teeth. You’re educating them and growing them and challenging them every day. ‘Hey, you wanted this? You got this. Hold on, it’s going to be a wild ride.’”