Another day, another practice. Georgia Tech's fifth workout of the spring season concluded earlier this afternoon as the Yellow Jackets strapped up in full pads for the second time. It sounds like they'll probably be in pads for much of the rest of the next three weeks.
Monday was a fairly busy day at Rose Bowl Fields, as the Yellow Jackets returned to their on-campus practice facility for the first time since rains forced them indoors to Flowery Branch at the end of last week. (Not to mention, I got a chance to see a few players from the old high school alma mater checking out the action. Also good to talk to their head coach who has brought the program a long way in a short amount of time) For a large chunk of the beginning of practice they worked on special teams drills, continuing to cycle cornerback Jerrard Tarrant into the punt return game. (A bit of housekeeping: Check macon.com and The Telegraph on Wednesday, where I'll have a story on Tarrant's comeback from a year suspension related to a court case; the charges were dropped earlier this month). Following the special teams workouts, the Yellow Jackets broke off into position drills before getting to the hard-hitting team exercises near the end of the day's action.
The biggest highlight of the team exercises was probably the few tense moments surrounding an apparent injury to true freshman Emmanuel Dieke. A member of the Yellow Jackets' recent recruiting class, Dieke enrolled in Georgia Tech in January, and is playing for the first time with the team. On one offense-defense drill, as quarterback Josh Nesbitt was completing an option pitch, Dieke, a defensive end, was blocked hard on his right, before crashing to the ground and rolling over favoring his left knee. From my vantage point -- some 30 yards away and up a hill directly in front of the action -- it looked like he transferred a little too much weight to his left leg after taking a pretty rough shot to his right knee. But after being tended to for several minutes, Dieke hobbled off the field, and head coach Paul Johnson indicated after practice that he was OK. He was "just scared" of feeling an injury more than anything, Johnson said.
Thankfully for Dieke, he, like several other Yellow Jackets on the defensive and offensive lines, was wearing braces on both knees. The braces probably absorbed some of the shock from the hit.
Potential injuries aside, the other big highlight would have to be Georgia Tech's passing game. During full team drills, and during skeleton 7-on-7 drills, the quarterbacks were delivering some lasers to the receivers, who, for the most part, were hauling in difficult catch after difficult catch.
Quentin Sims had a snag from former Hawkinsville quarterback Jim Henry, and starter Nesbitt lofted a pass early in the day to Tyler Melton, who went up high and snatched the ball over corner Mario Butler. If Melton continues to play the way he has this spring, Demaryius Thomas likely will not be the only Yellow Jacket to catch the football this season; and, the offense likely will not be quite as run-centric as it was last season. But of course, we'll have to just wait until September to see just how Paul Johnson uses him.
Speaking of Thomas, he had a few nice catches from Nesbitt, but it was still Melton who stole the show, snagging catches in the corners of the field, and sprinting through his routes. A-back Roddy Jones also took in a tough catch during one 7-on-7 drill, falling as he corralled a low strike across the middle from Nesbitt.
Another highlight came from linebacker Sedric Griffin. Right after Dieke's apparent freak injury, Griffin burst through the offensive line, got in the offensive backfield, and intercepted a pitch from Josh Nesbitt. Grabbing it and falling into a sidelined group of Yellow Jackets offensive players, Griffin's interception grew a loud and excited response from the more than three dozen fans sitting on a hill watching the action.
Alright, that's the best recap I can give you guys today. The TechTalk will be on pause tomorrow with the Yellow Jackets taking the day off, but tune back in on Wednesday where we'll have more action from The Flats. Thanks for stopping by!