The road to Dublin starts Wednesday when the Georgia Tech football team reports for preseason practice.
Members of the team will show up at 3 p.m. at an area hotel, where the players will spend time getting to know each other, bonding as a group and concentrating on the job of getting the team back on track.
“I think we had an outstanding offseason,” head coach Paul Johnson said. “Our guys have worked really hard. We can’t wait to get started this fall.”
Practice begins Thursday morning at Rose Bowl Field, and the annual Fan Day will be held Saturday. The free meet-and-greet begins at 3:30 p.m. with Wreckfest on the Callaway Plaza, with season-ticket holders admitted to the stadium at 4:30 p.m. and the general public admitted at 5 p.m. for autographs and photos.
There are 15 seniors on the roster, including 11 returning for a fifth year. That group includes quarterback Justin Thomas, who will be starting for the third season, and center Freddie Burden, healthy after missing the spring with a hand injury.
Thomas and Burden are two of the nine players who started on offense a year ago. Five starters on defense and both specialists also return.
There is a great deal of experience returning in the sophomore class. Injuries during the 2015 season forced the staff to play nine true freshmen who are expected to be big contributors.
“We lost a lot of players last year due to injury, which forced us to play a lot of freshmen,” Johnson said. “The good news is those guys are back, and they’ll be sophomores and they have some playing experience.”
This class includes some of the most valuable players on the team: B-back Marcus Marshall, safety A.J. Gray, linebacker Brant Mitchell and receiver Brad Stewart. There are high expectations for each of the four players.
It’s all the first baby step toward the season opener against Boston College on Sept. 3 in Dublin, Ireland.
“The bottom line is it’s a conference game, conference opener,” Johnson said. “We’re going over there with a mindset to try to win the football game.”