ATLANTA -- It has been an unusual spring football camp for the Georgia Tech football team.
The Yellow Jackets suffered through an array of injuries that might have prevented them from getting the answers to some of the questions they had when practice began. There are issues on the offensive line and unanswered questions about the A-back and B-back positions.
Here are five things to watch at Friday’s spring game, which will be played at 7 p.m. at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
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There’s no question that the Alpha dog is Justin Thomas. He proved himself last year to be the most capable and productive option quarterback that Paul Johnson has had since he arrived seven seasons ago. Johnson understands the importance of keeping Thomas upright and healthy, evidenced by the “don’t hit Justin” rule implemented this spring.
Thomas will play some during the spring game, but don’t expect to show up late and find him anywhere except the sideline. Thomas has nothing to prove and Georgia Tech has a lot to lose if something were to happen to him.
Expect to see Tim Byerly spent a lot of time on the field, as well as plenty of Matthew Jordan and maybe a dash of Chase Martenson.
Qua Searcy and Clinton Lynch made big advances during the spring camp and should contend for playing time. Both have game-breaking ability: Searcy, the transplanted wide receiver from Lamar County, broke a long touchdown run in the final practice session Wednesday.
Dennis Andrews remains the player with the most experience, which will count for something. Isaiah Willis has also shown flashes during the spring.
Broderick Snoddy, who has progressed nicely since his broken leg suffered against Clemson, won’t be out there Friday. Snoddy will be ready to play again this fall and could become one of the deep threats, a role he was rapidly growing into when he was injured.
Yellow Jackets fans will finally get a chance to see C.J. Leggett, one of the big prizes plucked from the 2014 recruiting class. The North Gwinnett product appeared to be on the fast track to play as a true freshman, but he lost time in preseason practice due to an injury and never got back up to speed. Johnson almost took the redshirt tag off of Leggett when Zach Laskey was injured last season, but that was unnecessary when Synjyn Days stepped in and took off.
Leggett appears to have a clear-cut path to be the starter, especially since incoming freshman Quaide Weimerskirch was injured and needed surgery. Former quarterback Brady Swilling and sophomore Ryan Braswell are also expected to play there Friday.
The job is wide open. Can these receivers get wide open? That’s uncertain. Can they catch the ball once they get open? That’s also undetermined.
The contenders for the position vacated by the uber-dependable DeAndre Smelter and the talented-yet-inconsistent Darren Waller are led by junior Micheal Summers, who might be the best blocker of the group. The other front-runners are Ricky Jeune and Antonio Messick, a couple of 6-foot-3 targets who both played last year as redshirt freshmen.
Johnson demands two things of his receivers: Be an effective blocker and catch the ball when it’s thrown to you. The most successful Friday could gain some separation from the pack.
Jabari Hunt-Days has been moved to defensive end and has drawn rave reviews from the coaching staff. Not surprising, however, since he was often referred to as a “beast” when he was stuck on the scout team last year.
If Hunt-Days can regain his eligibility, which will be known later this spring, he would complete what is potentially one of the team’s best fronts in years. End KeShun Freeman was on the ACC’s All-Freshman team and led the team’s linemen in tackles last year. Tackle Adam Gotsis has become a force, and tackle Patrick Gamble showed great progress last year. Throw in the developing skills of a raw Francis Kallon, and defensive coordinator Ted Roof might have something to build around.