ACC: J.C. Lanier

Spring game preview: Georgia Tech

April, 19, 2012
4/19/12
6:00
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The ACC spring game lineup concludes this Saturday with three teams in action. Georgia Tech, meanwhile, will get a head start on the weekend fun on Friday night.

The Yellow Jackets moved their spring game a day early this year to add to the atmosphere, as "Friday Night on the Flats" will feature pre- and postgame concerts and a fireworks show. The game, which is free, will kick at 7:45 p.m.

The Yellow Jackets might be without quarterback Synjyn Days and guard Shaquille Mason, as both suffered injuries this spring, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Days hurt his left wrist on the last play of Wednesday's 14th and penultimate spring practice. He led three touchdown drives during Saturday's intrasquad scrimmage.

"We couldn't tackle him," coach Paul Johnson said. "He had a good day. He made a lot of people miss. Synjyn is good with the ball in his hands, he just needs to improve on his throwing."

More pressing than protecting the signal caller might just be protecting those who usually do protect quarterbacks, as the offensive line could be down to 10 healthy bodies if Mason is out. Guard Omoregie Uzzi has been out all spring, and J.C. Lanier was nicked up Saturday.

Georgia Tech will also be missing linebacker Daniel Drummond, who has suspended for 1.5 games to start the season after pleading guilty Wednesday to boating under the influence. The incident took place last July, and it will keep the likely starter out for the team's 2012 opener against Virginia Tech.

Summer summary: Georgia Tech

August, 24, 2011
8/24/11
3:30
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Consider this series your “while-you-were-out” catch-up on the highlights of summer camp for each school in the ACC. Next up, Georgia Tech:

  • Coach Paul Johnson has squashed any notion of a quarterback competition, as Tevin Washington has earned the right to start. But … Synjyn Days and Vad Lee have been right behind him all month and all three could play. It will be interesting to see how Johnson handles their snaps during the season.
  • The B-Back position -- which produced 1,300-yard rushers in 2008, 2009 and 2010 -- remains up for grabs. It looked like senior Preston Lyons could be the starter, but former quarterback David Sims has also made a case, and most within the program think redshirt freshman Charles Perkins is the most talented. It’s another good position battle that should continue to play out into the season.
  • While senior Tyler Melton and junior Daniel McKayhan have been out with nagging injuries, true freshman Jeff Greene looks like he may actually get the starting nod at wide receiver.
  • Defensively, the jury is still out. The offense had its way with the defense in practice the past week. Julian Burnett, Jeremiah Attaoachu, Louis Young and Izaan Cross are all young, very talented players, but whether Georgia Tech gets a pass rush this year remains to be seen.
Most notable injuries: Safety Fred Holton's torn Achilles will likely sideline him for the year. He was competing for a starting job, but more likely the first DB off the bench. Backup guard J.C. Lanier has a stress fracture and is out four to five more weeks. A-back B.J. Bostic has an undisclosed arm injury that will keep him out four weeks.

ACC team position rankings: Defensive lines

June, 27, 2011
6/27/11
3:30
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As the title indicated ...

[+] EnlargeQuinton Coples
Mark Dolejs/US PresswireUNC returns a veteran defensive line led by end Quinton Coples.
1. North Carolina: This is a deep and talented group that returns all four starters including Donte Paige-Moss, Jared McAdoo, Quinton Coples and Tydreke Powell. Junior college transfer Sylvester Williams joins three other players who started at least one game: Kareem Martin (three starts), DT Tim Jackson (five starts) and DT Jordan Nix (two starts).

2. Florida State: All four starters return in juniors Brandon Jenkins, Jacobi McDaniel, Anthony McCloud and Everett Dawkins. Jenkins finished sixth nationally with 13.5 sacks. This group should take another step forward in the second season under coordinator Mark Stoops, but it already has an outstanding base to build on as the Noles ranked third nationally in sacks and 21st in tackles for loss last season.

3. Miami: The Canes should have one of the better rotations in the ACC. They return starters Olivier Vernon, Micanor Regis and Marcus Forston, who combined for 12 sacks and 30.5 TFLs. It’s a deep group, as DE Adewale Ojomo (seven starts), DT Luther Robinson (five starts), DE Marcus Robinson (10 games), DT Curtis Porter (one start), DE Andrew Smith (11 games) and DE Dyron Dye (six games) all have experience.

4. Virginia: Like Florida State, this is another group that should benefit from being in the second season under the same coordinator. Jim Reid switched the scheme back to a traditional 4-3, and the Hoos return a veteran group led by Matt Conrath (33 starts), DT Nick Jenkins (29 starts), and DE Cam Johnson (22 starts).

5. Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets have a better understanding of what is expected from them in their second season in Al Groh’s 3-4 defense, and all three starters return in ends Izaan Cross (41 tackles) and Jason Peters (52 tackles), and tackle Logan Walls. Defensive tackles Shawn Green, T.J. Barnes and J.C. Lanier will also compete for playing time along with DE Anthony Williams.

6. Maryland: The Terps should be solid up front with the return of Joe Vellano, A.J. Francis and Justin Anderson. Francis is the veteran of the group (19 career starts) and had 44 tackles and 2.5 sacks last season, but Vellano is also an all-conference candidate. The Terps have good depth with Zachariah Kerr, Isaiah Ross and Bradley Johnson.

7. Virginia Tech: This is a group that could and should jump a few spots by the end of the season. On paper, they’ve got to replace three starters, but this spring the group proved capable of getting the Hokies back to their days of dominating on defense. Based on potential, they should be ranked higher, but based on lack of dependable, proven depth, they could even fall lower.

8. Clemson: It will be difficult for the Tigers to replace the production of Da’Quan Bowers, but the defensive line is in capable hands with Andre Branch and Brandon Thompson, and Malliciah Goodman has embraced the challenge of taking Bowers’ spot. Branch was second on the team with five sacks last season and 8.5 tackles for loss. Thompson had 40 tackles, including six for losses. Defensive tackle Rennie Moore, DE Kourtnei Brown and DT Tyler Shatley also have experience.

9. NC State: Defensive tackle J.R. Sweezy is one of the underrated players in the ACC, and he returns along with defensive end Jeff Rieskamp. Several players got significant snaps last season, though, including DE Darryl Cato-Bishop (13 tackles), DT Markus Kuhn (17 tackles, and DT Brian Slay (20 tackles, two TFLs).

10. Wake Forest: The Deacs return three starters including Tristan Dorty, Kyle Wilber and Zack Thompson. Thompson only started five games last season, but after spring practices, coach Jim Grobe said Thompson has all-conference potential.

11. Boston College: Starters Max Holloway and Kaleb Ramsey return, along with four other linemen (DTs Dillon Quinn and Conor O’Neal, and DEs Dan Williams and Kasim Edebali) who each started at least two games last fall.

12. Duke: Until proven otherwise, this is where the Blue Devils belong, but Rick Petri was hired to change that. He’ll have veteran nose guard Charlie Hatcher (24 career starts) to work with, and sophomore Sydney Sarmiento, who started 11 games last season. Junior Kenny Anunike, Justin Foxx and DEs Desmond Johnson and Jamal Wallace could also see playing time.
The window in coach Paul Johnson's office overlooks Grant Field at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Because of the ongoing construction on the practice field, the Yellow Jackets have spent the offseason doing their individual workouts in the stadium -- in full view of their head coach.

This offseason, Johnson liked the view more than usual.

“I think that the whole attitude is better," he said. "A lot of the little things, from breakfast checks to class checks, extra lifting, extra workouts that they are putting in on their own. I can see out my window and there are always people out there working.”

[+] EnlargePaul Johnson
Nelson Chenault/US PresswirePaul Johnson says the more modest expectations for his team can be "a good thing."
The players didn't have much choice if they have any hopes of improving upon last year's 6-7 season. Georgia Tech's season was derailed the second former quarterback Joshua Nesbitt broke his forearm against Virginia Tech, but the Jackets' troubles ran deeper than that last year. The offense couldn't hold onto the ball, the special-teams units were filled with blunders, and the defense under first-year coordinator Al Groh?

It was just like everything else, Johnson said, "just kind of so-so. We weren't really good at anything."

With only 11 starters returning, competition will be the theme this spring. Georgia Tech returns just 37.9 percent of its points from a year ago (128 of 338). The Jackets are in search of their next 1,000-yard rusher at B-back, and still in need of a go-to receiver. The good news is that the top two receivers return, the A-back position is deep, and all three starters return on the defensive line. There are also a few position changes to watch, including Daniel Drummond's move from B-back to linebacker, sophomore J.C. Lanier moving from defensive line to offensive line, and quarterback David Sims switching to B-Back.

One of the more intriguing position battles will be at B-back, where Preston Lyons, Richard Watson and Sims are all competing for the majority of the reps. Redshirt freshman Charles Perkins practiced last year with both the B-backs and A-backs. Johnson said he's not worried about the position, but knows everyone will be watching the quarterback battle, where it's Tevin Washington's job to lose.

“He is the starter coming in, and I think that he has earned that," Johnson said. "It is very similar to a lot of the positions, the depth chart is always fluid. He has been taking snaps. This is why I try not to get too hyped up on the freshmen. We are excited about a group of them, but until they do it on the field consistently, I don’t know that you hype them all that much. Synjyn [Days] has a lot of ability, but he has to beat Tevin out. It’s Tevins’ job.”

Johnson said the players worked a lot on team building and chemistry in the offseason -- "probably more so than we have in the past" --and as a result, the work ethic has been better. Johnson said it's still too early to tell how much better this year's team will be.

"We'll have a better idea coming out of spring," Johnson said. "I like our athleticism. I think we're going to be all right. I think it's going to be good to be kind of -- nobody has very high expectations for us, and I think that's a good thing. It's kind of the way we were the first year I was here."

In 2008, Johnson's first season, the Yellow Jackets finished 9-4 and tied for the Coastal Division lead, despite critics who said his spread option offense wouldn't work at the BCS level. He has since won an ACC title and has proved it can.

The next challenge is to do it again.

Update from Georgia Tech practice

August, 24, 2009
8/24/09
10:52
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

From Georgia Tech's sports information office:
Paul Johnson said after practice today that true freshman defensive tackle J.C. Lanier will likely have surgery on his injured shoulder and will sit out the 2009 season. Lanier was expected to redshirt the 2009 season.
"We'll probably go ahead and get the shoulder fixed so that he can compete in the spring," Johnson said.
Johnson also indicated that redshirt freshman wide receiver Quentin Sims has taken some snaps at quarterback recently. Sims split time between receiver and option quarterback on the high school level. Two quarterbacks -- sophomore Jaybo Shaw (broken collarbone) and true freshman Jordan Luallen (ankle) -- are currently out with injuries. That leaves Tech with only three healthy scholarship quarterbacks -- junior Josh Nesbitt, redshirt freshman Tevin Washington and true freshman David Sims.
Nesbitt will participate in a live chat Wednesday at 10 a.m. on Ramblinwreck.com.

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