ACC: Corey Dennis

Georgia Tech’s group of wide receivers was thin to begin with this spring, but the recent news that projected starter Anthony Autry has reinjured his knee -- the same knee he suffered a torn ACL in last fall -- has depleted the group even further.

Those within the program aren’t panicking because they are confident in the talent they’ve recruited, but this injury pretty much guarantees at least one true freshman receiver is going to see playing time for the Jackets this fall. Autry and Darren Waller were the only two receivers on the roster who had ever recorded a collegiate catch. A school spokesman said it hasn’t been determined how long Autry will be out, but he will definitely miss the beginning of the season.

Autry missed spring practices to recover from the torn ACL, and he was on his way to class at the end of the semester when he hurt his knee again taking a casual jump out of one of campus shuttle busses. It was extremely unfortunate, considering Autry was almost fully recovered from the original injury.

Corey Dennis, who began his career as a true freshman defensive back in 2011, is next up on the depth chart. He moved to wide receiver last fall and played mostly on special teams. Coach Paul Johnson has also said he expects to see improvement from Travin Henry, who also missed this spring with an injury, and Micheal Summers, who redshirted last year.

Keep an eye out, though, for true freshmen Ricky Jeune and Antonio Messick, as both will have an opportunity to contribute immediately. Georgia Tech also likes to use its A-backs like slot receivers, so there are plenty of options for pass catchers in the Jackets’ run-based offense. The key now is finding the most dependable -- and durable -- one.

Georgia Tech needs WRs to step up

March, 27, 2013
Every spring, Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson talks about wanting to improve the efficiency of his passing game.

That statement has taken on a bigger sense of urgency this year, as the Yellow Jackets have some major questions at the receiver position. Only two wide receivers who caught a pass in 2012 return this year -- Darren Waller (eight catches for 162 yards) and Anthony Autry (three catches for 117 yards). Autry is out for the spring. So is Travin Henry, a talented redshirt freshman.

So finding and developing depth is a major priority.

"You’d like to hope that Darren Waller will be a go-to guy," Johnson said in a recent phone interview. "He played some last year. He’s got all the tools physically. He’s about 6-6 and 225, 230 pounds, can really run. We’ve got a couple guys that we redshirted. Micheal Summers, whom we held out, he’s got a chance. Corey Dennis played a little bit last year on special teams so we have some guys there. It’s just a question of them getting more game experience and producing on the field."

How did the Jackets get to this point? Jeff Greene, the team's leading wide receiver, parted ways with the team before the bowl game. Chris Jackson and Jeremy Moore were both seniors. Waller started 10 games last season; Autry started three. Otherwise, there are no receivers left on the roster with a start.

Though the Jackets are a team known for their run, they do rely on receivers to make big plays. That, in turn, helps the efficiency of the passing offense. Incoming starter Vad Lee got his opportunities last season and showed flashes, though he only completed 48.2 percent of his passes with four touchdowns to three interceptions.

"Some of it is inexperience and some of it is situational," Johnson said. "If you’re throwing the ball way down the field, he’s not going to complete as many as you were if you were checking down and doing those kinds of things. I think he’ll be fine. You constantly work on mechanics and you constantly work on him reading defenses. But he’s got a strong arm so he should be able to throw the ball."

The question remains -- who will he throw it to?