ATLANTA — Maybe it’s the nonstop, late August heat. Maybe it’s the doldrums of the dog days of summer. Or maybe it’s just something inexplicable.
Whatever the reason may be, Paul Johnson hasn’t been too pleased with the effort he’s been seeing lately from his team.
“Not anything I saw (Tuesday) would allow me to believe they see light at the end of the tunnel,” the head coach said following Georgia Tech’s latest workout.
With the Yellow Jackets’ season-opener with South Carolina State a little more than a week away, he was asked if he could sense an uptick in tempo and energy, and if his team appeared to be one that seemed tired of hitting itself and ready to see competition.
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Johnson said he’s still looking for them to get over this final preseason hump.
When questioned about the ever-looming competitions on the offensive line, he had this to say: “I don’t know how intense it is. But there are competitions.”
He added that senior Sean Bedford and sophomore Omoregie Uzzi had appeared to lock up their respective center and right guard starting positions. The rest remain up the air, with Dublin native Nick McRae among a slew of players competing for the starting jobs and tackle and left guard.
Later during his post-practice session, Johnson was sequestered about receiver Stephen Hill and his ability to lockdown the No. 1 receiving position. Although it was a new question, Johnson offered much the same refrain.
“He needs to push a little harder and push through,” he said. Then added: “I think we all do. Everybody does.”
Johnson earlier this week named two of the team’s captains for the season.
Seniors and Middle Georgia natives Joshua Nesbitt and Brad Jefferson were bestowed with the honors, as they will lead the Yellow Jackets onto the field each game.
“Being the team captain, a lot of work comes along into it,” Jefferson said. “People just see captains just walk out on the field, but it’s a lot back in the background. They can call me whenever they’re in trouble or something, I’ve just got to be there with them.”
Georgia Tech’s starting quarterback the previous two seasons, Nesbitt racked up a combined 28 touchdowns rushing and passing in 2009. Jefferson, entering his second year as a starter at inside linebacker, has been charged with being the vocal leader on defense.
The Yellow Jackets will have two other captains joining Nesbitt and Jefferson each game, Johnson has said. Those players likely will be rotated weekly among the 14 other scholarship seniors, Johnson said earlier this preseason.
A-back Marcus Wright, a small-in-stature running back originally from San Antonio, Texas, was bestowed with an honor from his hometown newspaper this weekend.
As part of its high school preview section, the San Antonio Express-News unveiled a page devoted to its “Decade of Dominance,” outlining the best Texas players it covered between 2000-2009. Smack in the center of the spread is a picture of Wright, named the offensive player of the decade.
The list includes the likes of former Dallas Cowboys player Sam Hurd and current Minnesota Vikings defensive back Cedric Griffin, both Texas natives.
“One of my friends in high school — my fullback — his mom had called me and told me, and it’s a big honor considering how big San Antonio is and how many people come through there and how many people went before me,” Wright said.
As a sophomore, the 5-foot-8 Wright appeared in all 14 games as a backup at A-back last season, en route to rushing for 190 yards on just 33 carries. He also had three touchdowns, including a pivotal score during Georgia Tech’s home win over Virginia Tech.
During his senior year of high school, Wright rushed for a San Antonio city record of 3,374 yards and scored 45 touchdowns. That same year, he had at least one carry of 70-plus yards in eight consecutive games before being named the Texas 5A offensive player of the year in 2007.
Radio show returns
Johnson’s radio show returns Wednesday with its first airing of the season.
Each week, Johnson will join Yellow Jackets radio personality Wes Durham at the Fox Sports Grill in midtown Atlanta’s Atlantic Station for a brief chat with fans. The festivities begin at 7 p.m. on Wednesdays and are broadcast in and around Atlanta on 790 AM “The Zone.”