Season Preview of the Wide Receivers

In order to immediately dispel the rumors that the Georgia Tech wide receivers are masquerading as undernourished or anorexic offensive linemen split out wide toward the hash marks and mysteriously wearing uniform numbers normally only provided to “eligible” offensive players who can touch the pigskin, they are actually authorized to catch a forward pass beyond the line of scrimmage.  I did confirm this with the director of football operations at the NCAA’s main office in Indianapolis, Indiana this past week.  Now that we have put a temporary lid on that Pandora’s Box of misinformation, we can move on to discussing the returning members of this select group.  But first, let’s engage in a little compare and contrast to expose the unenlightened rumor mongering that still persists.

The reality is that no matter what offensive scheme any team utilizes, everyone has to block on occasion in order to have a successful play.  If you look at any touchdown scored by an offensive team during a game, you will see downfield blocking being accomplished by the wide receivers.  That is why it is so nauseating to listen to all of the idiotic drivel coming from the uninformed talking head “know-it-alls” who seem to think that the Paul Johnson triple option offense could function quite efficiently with cigar store wooden Indian statues at the wide out positions. 

I don’t recall anyone saying that Mike Leach’s chuck and duck offense at Texas Tech could make due with a pair of giant tortoises lined up as split backs since they never run the football.  But then again I’m sure they all laughed when some stubby coach named Hank Stram in the old AFL trotted out that Nordic skier from Norway in 1967 to kick field goals for the Kansas City Chiefs using a very unorthodox “soccer style”.  Stram discovered this “Alpine letterman” at that famous football factory in Bozeman, Montana (Montana State). 

I remember now, his name was Jan Stenerud.  In fact, now this is going to be real hard to believe, but both Hank and Jan are in the professional Football Hall of Fame.  That’s right, the one in Canton, Ohio.  Go figure.  Now that I think about it, every team playing football today has one of those “soccer style” guys on their roster to handle the kicking chores.  This explains the notion that while some people might look at the triple option as a “High School Offense”, others see innovation.  Kind of like Hank!  See you again this November “Eric.”

One of the starting wide receivers at Georgia Tech for the upcoming season will be Junior Redshirt Demaryius “Bay-Bay” Thomas (6’3″ 229 lbs.)  When he wasn’t busy catching 9 balls for 230 yards and a touchdown against Duke last year, he was often seen producing enough pancake blocks downfield to cause the Atlantic Regional Representative from IHOP to offer him a management position.  He is a player who does it all to help his team win on the field.  No doubt he could catch 12 balls a game at BYU, Texas Tech, or any other school running the “spread offense”, but “Bay-Bay” chose to stay at Tech and make his mark playing in the Paul Johnson triple option system.  With his size and speed opposing defensive backs had better be keeping their heads on a swivel at all times.

On the opposite side of the formation will be Sophomore Tyler Melton (6′ 199 lbs.) who played as a true freshman after going the “gray-shirt” route in 2007 due to an injury prior to enrolling at Tech.  Don’t worry about trying to figure out “gray-shirting”, suffice to say it is different than a “red-shirt.”  He has very good speed and excellent hands. 

Backing up “Bay-Bay and Melton will be two redshirt freshmen: Daniel McKayhan (6′ 180 lbs.); and Quentin Sims (6’3″ 190 lbs.)   After that it gets pretty thin on the depth chart.  This might open up the opportunity for a true freshman to see some playing time.  Mark down the name Stephen Hill (6’4″ 210 lbs.) as a kid who might not have to don the “red-shirt” this year. 

He was a highly recruited receiver from Miller Grove High School with blazing speed.  To say he is an outstanding athlete is an understatement.  He is the Georgia State High School Track Champion in the 300 meter hurdles, the 4×400 meter relay, and topped it off with not only another gold medal performance by winning the long jump, but posted the best mark in the USA this year with his 25′ 8 3/4″ leap.  No wonder those dawgs made a late push to get him to sign with UGA.  But he stayed loyal through it all, and that alone speaks to the quality of his character.

The other freshman, Jeremy Moore (6’3 190 lbs.) has good speed and a real knack for getting separation from his defender.  He is not shy about blocking, and although he is from Texas, he always wanted to play for the jackets.  Barring any injuries to the group ahead of him, he should be able utilize this year to learn as a “red-shirt “and be better prepared for the future. 

I would now like to issue a warm welcome to wide receiver Sophomore Chris Jackson (6’1″ 210 lbs.).  He just transferred in to Georgia Tech this past week from the University of Alabama where he played mostly on special teams last year as a true freshman.  Chris was an early commitment to Tech under Chan Gaily and got caught up in the coaching change when Paul Johnson was hired back in 2007, and eventually signed with Nick Saban.  He was a very highly rated receiver coming out of high school that year.

Apparently Chris found out quickly that the grass wasn’t greener at Alabama.  But what is truly ironic is that Saban moved Chris to defensive back this past spring.  Given the misery and despair expected to plague anyone playing the wide receiver position under Paul Johnson’s triple option offense, Chris’ decision to head west to Tuscaloosa for a pro style offense was a mistake.  Instead of wallowing in his bad decision and commiserating by having a “pity party”, Chris Jackson showed what a stand up kid he is and asked to meet with Paul Johnson to discuss his playing future on the flats.

Paul Johnson, being the class act that he is, offered Chris Jackson the opportunity to come to Georgia Tech with a scholarship for the 2010 class.  He accepted on the spot and will have to “red-shirt” this year.  Folks, not only do we have a great coach, but we have a great man in Paul Johnson who really cares about molding young men for the future.  This is a prime example of two people doing right by each other.  We should all be proud how this worked out for everyone involved.  Next week we will start reviewing the defense.  Go Jackets!

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