ATLANTA — As GeorgiaTech goes deeper into the preseason, the bumps and bruises that can accompany it have begun to show.
At least one Yellow Jackets player has already spent his time away from contact, as defensive end Jason Peters was held out of Monday afternoon’s workout for what head coach Paul Johnson called “a headache.”
Johnson added, however, that Peters should be back out Tuesday.
One of the key pieces to the Yellow Jackets’ defense this season, Peters is the explosive defensive end slated to take over for reigning ACC defensive player of the year and recent NFL first-round draft pick, Derrick Morgan. During spring workouts, Peters drew acclaim from coaches and on-lookers after developing a knack for finding his way into the backfield and stopping ballcarriers before they reached the line of scrimmage.
As the Yellow Jackets on Monday made their daily trek back across campus from the Rose Bowl practice fields to their locker room inside Bobby Dodd Stadium, Peters was spotted in a red no-contact jersey. He also sported a pair of sunglasses and a Georgia Tech baseball cap.
He also missed Sunday’s workout.
Johnson also reported that former Washington Countystandout Brandon Watts “got dinged up” with a minor injury that should have him back on the field soon.
“Nothing serious,” Johnson said of the redshirt freshman’s injury. “If he’ll be back (Tuesday), we’ll see.”
Pads come on
Monday’s practice was also notable because the Yellow Jackets donned full pads for the first time this preseason.
After working out in shorts and shoulder pads on Saturday, they added to the ensemble by practicing in the heavier, hotter, full uniform to begin Week 2 of training. With the exception of one half of their lone two-a-day practice, the Yellow Jackets likely will be in full pads for the remainder of the practice schedule.
Although some players said the adjustment was mildly troublesome because of the near 100-degree heat that baked Atlanta, there were others who were glad to slide into the full equipment.
“The pads, they were good. They brought back memories of spring ball and going against the big boys then,” true freshman safety Isaiah Johnson said.
On a personal level, those memories were very fond for him.
An early-enrollee, Isaiah Johnson joined two other true freshmen — A-back B.J. Bostic and B-back Charles Perkins — in drills this spring. Noted by coaches within the first week for having a high level of talent, he showcased his ability to be a hard-hitting head hunter.
During practice exercises, he laid out several eye-popping hits, including one the first week that garnered a pat on the helmet by new defensive coordinator Al Groh.
Isaiah Johnson said he didn’t lay out any such tackles Monday.
“I couldn’t even get none; I wanted to,” Isaiah Johnson said. “I’m kind of mad that I wasn’t able to get any, but I’ve just got to be patient. It’ll come, it’ll come.”
Overall, Paul Johnson was pleased with how his team responded to the first day in full uniform.
“It wasn’t bad,” he said. “We pushed through it and competed. We’ve got to pick up the pace a little bit, but there were some positive things.”
Georgia Tech on Friday held commencement exercises for those students who finished their academic commitments this summer. One of Macon’s own was among the latest group of Institute graduates.
Correy Earls, a receiver for the Yellow Jackets and a former standout at Central, received his diploma in management along with Georgia Tech linebacker Anthony “A.T.” Barnes during ceremonies inside Alexander Memorial Coliseum. With the event scheduled for 7 p.m., the pair were allowed to leave Friday’s preseason practice several minutes early to get dressed for the exercises and to celebrate with family.
Senior offensive lineman Austin Barrick also concluded his requirements this summer, but elected to walk with fall graduates in December.
A fifth-year senior, Earls began his tenure at Georgia Tech playing receiver before moving to defensive back last season. With the blood of a pass-catcher — not defender — still coursing through his veins, Earls has decided to switch back to receiver this year.
He has appeared in 20 career games as a receiver, and has 18 receptions. Three seasons ago, as a redshirt freshman, he returned eight kicks for an average 27.0 yards per return.