ACC: Louis Young

The NFL draft concluded with 42 ACC players selected last weekend, and a slew more ended up signing free-agent deals in the days afterward.

Here’s a quick rundown of where the ACC’s undrafted free agents landed.

QB Chase Rettig, Green Bay Packers
OLB Kasim Edebali, New Orleans Saints
LB Steele Divitto, New York Jets
OT Ian White, San Diego Chargers
OT Matt Patchan, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
DB Albert Louis-Jean, Chicago Bears

K Chandler Catanzaro, Arizona Cardinals
G Tyler Shatley, Jacksonville Jaguars
LB Spencer Shuey, Jacksonville Jaguars
CB Darius Robinson, Buffalo Bills

RB Juwan Thompson, Denver Broncos
DE Kenny Anunike, Denver Broncos

LB Christian Jones, Chicago Bears
RB James Wilder Jr., Cincinnati Bengals
WR Kenny Shaw, Cleveland Browns
FB Chad Abram, Detroit Lions
DT Demonte McAllister, Seattle Seahawks
DT Jacobbi McDaniel, Cleveland Browns

DT Euclid Cummings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
CB Lou Young, Denver Broncos
DE Emmanuel Dieke, New York Giants

DT Roy Philon, Pittsburgh Steelers
S Hakeem Smith, Tennessee Titans
DT Brandon Dunn, Chicago Bears
WR Damian Copeland, Jacksonville Jaguars

WR Allen Hurns, Jacksonville Jaguars
QB Stephen Morris, Jacksonville Jaguars
TE Asante Cleveland, San Francisco 49ers
DT Justin Renfrow, Arizona Cardinals
FB Maurice Hagens, Atlanta Falcons
S A.J. Highsmith, San Francisco 49ers
OG Jared Wheeler, Carolina Panthers
LB Jimmy Gaines, Buffalo Bills

OT James Hurst, Baltimore Ravens
QB Bryn Renner, Denver Broncos

DE Carlos Gray, Green Bay Packers
TE Asa Watson, New England Patriots
DL Deylan Buntyn, New England Patriots

P Matt Yoklic, Atlanta Falcons

CB Keon Lyn, Indianapolis Colts
CB Ri’Shard Anderson, Tennessee Titans
RB Jerome Smith, Atlanta Falcons

DE Jake Snyder, Minnesota Vikings

DT Derrick Hopkins, Baltimore Ravens
LB Tariq Edwards, Miami Dolphins
WR D.J. Coles, Oakland Raiders
G Andrew Miller, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
DE James Gayle, Tennessee Titans

DT Nikita Whitlock, Cincinnati Bengals
LB Justin Jackson, Detroit Lions
LB Zach Thompson, New York Jets
Georgia Tech safety Isaiah Johnson faced a most unusual situation last December. After playing in every single game of his Jackets’ career, Johnson was forced to miss the bowl game with a knee injury.

That same injury kept him out of spring practice, too. But Johnson said Monday he is doing great and looking forward to the start of the season. “I’m almost there,” he told in a telephone interview.

[+] EnlargeIsaiah Johnson
Mark Dolejs/US PresswireGeorgia Tech safety Isaiah Johnson said he's ready to take on a new defensive system despite missing spring workouts.
As for whether he will practice when fall camp opens Aug. 1, Johnson was a little more coy. “We’ll see,” he said. “I have to talk to my doctors to see what's best for me. I can't make any promises.”

Whenever he does return, the Jackets will find a much more focused, much more grateful Johnson leading their secondary. Johnson says his time away from the game was a “humbling experience.”

“I feel like the Lord has put this on me to show me how much I love the game,” Johnson said. “I'm too close to quit. I feel like he put this on me so I can learn from this experience and give it my all to be able to reach my dreams.”

And what is the biggest lesson he learned?

“To remain focused, to be able to brush off when things affect you, to see who's in your corner because after this some people may look at you like, you may not be the same, so from this experience I can see who's in my corner, who's on my support team, and at the same time, I've had another level of focus because I want it that bad,” he said.

Johnson enters his third season as a starter as one of the most experienced leaders on defense. He led the team with 87 tackles a season ago. Georgia Tech goes into the season with a new defensive coordinator, one of the biggest story lines to follow on this team. Though Johnson missed spring practice, he participated in his own way.

In addition to getting extra time in the film room and studying his playbook, Johnson attended each practice and simulated plays on his own. During live plays, he would line up about 40 to 50 yards behind the defense, and would take steps and watch the play as if he was actually participating.

That simulation has given him a good comfort level with the new scheme, even though he has yet to go live in a practice. When he does return, Georgia Tech could have one of the best defensive backfields in the ACC. Johnson will be one of three senior starters returning, along with Louis Young and Jemea Thomas, who made the watch list for the Bednarik Award.

“I just see a lot of greatness,” Johnson said. “Once we reach our potential, we'll blow the country out the water. We'll be top notch. Once we really shine and do what we know we can do, we'll be able to prove ourselves and show everyone we are the best. We have a lot of potential on this team. There's a lot of talent on this team, and I can't wait for us to show everyone what we are capable of doing.”

ACC's lunchtime links

June, 25, 2013

Hyundai Sun Bowl keys

December, 31, 2012
Here are three keys for Georgia Tech in the Hyundai Sun Bowl against USC.

1. Slow down USC's receivers. The Jackets face their biggest challenge of the season on pass defense, going against some of the most talented receivers in the nation. But keep an eye on Biletnikoff winner Marqise Lee, who leads the nation with 112 receptions and has eight 100-yard receiving games out of 12 this year. Lee twisted his knee during practice Saturday, and coach Lane Kiffin would only say he is "hopeful" his star will play. On the other side, the Trojans feature Robert Woods, who combined with Lee for 2,493 yards and 25 touchdown catches this season. While Matt Barkley is out with a shoulder injury, there is no doubt starting quarterback Max Wittek will look to his wideouts to help get the offense going. Rod Sweeting and Louis Young are going to have their hands full at the cornerback spot. For safety help, the Jackets take a big loss with starter and leading tackler Isaiah Johnson out. Jemea Thomas will have to take on a bigger role.

2. Get Orwin Smith loose. There is no doubting how explosive Smith can be when healthy. The problem for the Jackets is that he has not been healthy in their past two games, both losses. But he is ready to go against USC and should provide a spark for an offense in need of some big plays. Smith is averaging 9 yards per carry this season, and is on the verge of setting the school record for highest yards per carry average for a career. He leads all players on the team in "big plays," with 13 that have gone between 20-39 yards.

3. Be consistent. Inconsistency on offense and defense has been the biggest problems for Georgia Tech all season. We have rarely seen a full four quarters from this team, a big reason why it sits at 6-7. There is no better opportunity than to play their best in the Sun Bowl, with a chance to finish at .500 and help Paul Johnson get his first bowl win in five tries. USC is less than enthused to be in this game, as several players have caused a stir on Twitter with their comments. Georgia Tech has a huge opportunity in front of it, now we see if the Jackets take advantage.

ACC's lunchtime links

August, 15, 2012
Joining the list of things you could never predict in the ACC: Greg Reid to Valdosta State and Ray-Ray Armstrong to an NAIA school ...
First it was Florida State cornerback Greg Reid. Then it was Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins. Now the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported at least one key Georgia Tech player, cornerback Louis Young, could be suspended for the season opener against Virginia Tech, and Miami has yet to see offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson at practice.

Those are some pretty big names in the ACC.

Reid was dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules, and Watkins has been suspended for the first two games of the season. Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson has yet to confirm who -- if anyone -- will be missing for the Labor Day game because he doesn’t want to give the Hokies any more of a competitive advantage. Johnson will likely make that announcement about a week before the game.

It’s unfortunate for the conference and its fans that this is the way the league is starting the season -- with some of its most outstanding players sidelined or, in Henderson’s case, just seemingly mired in controversy. (He was excused to attend a funeral, but was expected to be back by the third practice.) Reid was one of the top punt returners in the country. Watkins is one of the best players in the country. And Henderson was one of the top recruits in the country. Young is a talented starter in a secondary that returns four of its top five players from a year ago, and will likely need all of them on the field against Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas.

With teams only beginning to practice again, it’s too early for so many personnel issues (not that discipline wasn’t deserved). The ACC hasn’t even played a game yet, and already there have been some big losses for Week 1.

ACC's INT artists

June, 20, 2012
The ACC has an impressive, under-the-radar streak going on that could be difficult to continue this fall. Last year, NC State cornerback David Amerson led the nation with 13 interceptions, the highest total for an FBS player since 1968. Thanks to Amerson, an ACC player has now won or shared the national lead in total pass interceptions in four of the last five seasons:

NCAA leaders in pass interceptions

2011: David Amerson, NC State (13, 1.00/gm)

2010: Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech (9, 0.69/gm)

2008: Trimane Goddard, UNC (7, 0.54); Alphonso Smith, Wake Forest (7, 0.54); Morgan Burnett, Georgia Tech (7, 0.54) (tied in total interceptions with 4 others)

2007: Alphonso Smith, Wake Forest (8, 0.62) (tied with Cincinnati's DeAngelo Smith and Troy's Elbert Mack in total interceptions)

Can the ACC keep it up? Here's a look at the returning leaders who had at least four interceptions last year:
Don't forget about Merrill Noel at Wake Forest, who led the league with 21 passes defended. Here's a look at the ACC's spring all-star checklist for 2012 defensive backs:


Q&A: GT safety Isaiah Johnson

March, 26, 2012
Georgia Tech safety Isaiah Johnson will be a returning starter in a veteran secondary for the Jackets this spring. Last year, he was the team's second-leading tackler with 78, had three tackles for loss, one sack and three interceptions. He also had two fumble recoveries. I spoke with Johnson to get his take on the defense and the program heading into spring practices, which begin today. Here are the highlights of our conversation:

What do you think is going to be the biggest strength for the defense this year?

[+] EnlargeIsaiah Johnson
Mark Dolejs/US PresswireGeorgia Tech safety Isaiah Johnson said he's ready to take on a new defensive system despite missing spring workouts.
Isaiah Johnson: I would say the team bond. This is our third year under coach [Al] Groh’s defense. We’re getting used to it, we’re getting used to each other’s abilities, what our strengths are, and just coming together as a unit and getting tight, making more plays.

How do you expect your role to change, if at all?

IJ: I feel my role will change in that I need to become more vocal as far as my leadership off the field, pushing my players so we can have a better bondage and build the fire up. Louis Young, so far, he’s the one doing it. He’s the one coming in, stepping up, taking on that role. I’m also along with him trying to build that fire so we can stay amped.

What do you feel like you guys were missing in the second half of the season last year?

IJ: Let me think about this a second. Focus. I would say focus. We lost our focus a little bit. In the first half we did good. In the second half we were just losing it. That’s one thing, like I was saying with Louis and how he’s keeping everybody amped. We didn’t have that. We didn’t have that one to keep everybody amped. Actually, Julian Burnett, he was the one getting everybody amped but we didn’t have any other ones to build that fire. We became more lax and we weren’t pushing ourselves.

Do you feel like the defense made the strides you wanted to last year?

IJ: I feel like we improved from the past season, but there’s always a need for improvement and I feel like we shouldn’t be satisfied with our performance from last year. We made plays, but there’s always the need for improvement. We just can’t be proud of ourselves for having a winning season. Coming into this season, we need to do better, so no, I’m not proud of last season’s performance.

Overall, what do you think the expectations should be for Georgia Tech as far as the Coastal Division race? What do you think you guys are capable of this year?

IJ: We’re capable of winning the division. I see us taking over the division and just coming back, strapping up our helmets and laying people out. We’re going to have a lot of headhunters this season. We’re just ready to play. Even after this past game against Utah, we weren’t ready to stop even though that was a bad outcome. We’re ready.

GT CB Young suspended for bowl game

December, 19, 2011
Georgia Tech sophomore cornerback Louis Young will not play in the Hyundai Sun Bowl for disciplinary reasons, according to a school spokesman.

It's a significant loss, as Young started all 12 games this year for the Jackets and is tied for fourth on the team in tackles with 52. He also has three tackles for loss, five pass breakups, one interception and a forced fumble. Young seemed to be playing his best at the end of the season. He had his first career interception last month against rival Georgia, and he had a career-high seven tackles and a quarterback hurry the previous week at Duke.

Jemea Thomas could get the starting nod in place of Young. Despite not being a starter, Thomas is a talented defensive back and one Clemson fans might remember. In what was his first career start, Thomas had two interceptions — both in the fourth quarter — one tackle for loss, a forced fumble, two pass breakups and his first career punt return. He was named the ACC's Defensive Back of the Week. Michael Peterson and Jamal Golden will likely be Thomas' backups.

1Q: Georgia Tech 7, Clemson 3

October, 29, 2011
ATLANTA -- In a game that features two average defenses, Georgia Tech's defense has gotten off to an above-average start. Cornerback Louis Young forced a fumble that set up Georgia Tech's first touchdown and gave the Jackets the 7-3 lead. It was a costly turnover for Clemson, which was pushed back for losses on three straight plays. While Georgia Tech's offense gets all of the ink, it was the Jackets' defense that had the crowd roaring in Bobby Dodd Stadium. T.J. Barnes' 16-yard sack of Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd was a big boost for the Georgia Tech defense and was the spark that got it started.

Clemson's defense has started strong, too, getting after quarterback Tevin Washington and forcing the Jackets into third-and-long situations, and they haven't been able to get out of them with their passing game as well as Clemson can. A 14-yard penalty from a personal foul didn't help Georgia Tech -- but the Jackets' defense did.

This isn't the first time Clemson has started a game cold this season. It's still waaaay too early to tell which direction this game is headed, but Georgia Tech's defense has been the highlight so far.

Summer summary: Georgia Tech

August, 24, 2011
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.
As advertised ...

1. Florida State: The Noles have one of the best cornerback duos in the country in Greg Reid and Xavier Rhodes. They combined for 33 passes defended last season, the most of any pair of cornerbacks in the nation. Mike Harris had 41 tackles and four picks as a reserve.

[+] EnlargeGreg Reid
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireFlorida State cornerback Greg Reid is also one of the ACC's top return men.
2. Virginia Tech: Jayron Hosley is one of the top boundary corners in the country, and the Hokies also have Kyle Fuller, who had six deflections last season, and Cris Hill (two deflections) at field corner.

3. Maryland: The Terps return both starters in Cameron Chism and Trenton Hughes, who combined for 36 career starts. Chism is a strong cover corner who had 70 tackles and eight deflections last season. Hughes had nine pass deflections.

4. NC State: Both starters return in C.J. Wilson and David Amerson. Wilson had 46 tackles, two interceptions and six pass breakups, and Amerson had 57 tackles. Justin Byers and Gary Grant also have experience.

5. North Carolina: The Tar Heels lost some remarkable talent in their secondary, including cornerback Kendric Burney, but there is a lot of depth at the position. Jabari Price started four games last season, Charles Brown has 22 career starts but sat out last season, and Mywan Jackson and Tre Boston both have at least four starts each.

6. Boston College: The Eagles will miss DeLeon Gause, but Donnie Fletcher has 17 career starts, 56 tackles last season, and led the team with five picks. C.J. Jones played in 12 games as a backup last season with 16 tackles. Dominique Williams also saw some time and had four tackles, and true freshman Al Louis-Jean, who was the No. 9 cornerback in the nation as ranked by ESPN Recruiting, enrolled early.

7. Clemson: It’s a young group, as the Tigers had to replace Marcus Gilchrist and Byron Maxwell. Xavier Brewer had 10 starts with 50 tackles and two interceptions last season, Coty Sensabaugh had 31 tackles in three starts, and senior Mansa Joseph will also be competing for playing time with sophomore Martin Jenkins.

8. Virginia: The Cavaliers return both starters in Chase Minnifield and Devin Wallace, but Wallace was suspended and missed spring ball and is still suspended. Wallace had 38 tackles and six breakups last season. Chris Broadnax, Rijo Walker, Drequan Hoskey and Pablo Alvarez will all compete for playing time.

9. Miami: The Hurricanes have to replace both starters in Brandon Harris and Ryan Hill. Jo-Jo Nicholas moved to corner and Brandon McGee, who was the nickel back last season, will compete along with Lee Chambers, Keion Payne, Nathan Gholston and true freshman Thomas Finnie, who had a great spring.

10. Georgia Tech: The Jackets had to replace their entire secondary, including cornerbacks Mario Butler and Dominique Reese. They’ve still got several cornerbacks with experience in Rashaad Reid, who started 14 games in 2008 and 2009, Rod Sweeting (38 tackles, seven pass breakups, one interception), Louis Young (10 tackles), and Michael Peterson (six tackles, one pass breakup).

11. Wake Forest: The Deacs have a deep enough secondary that they can live without the experience of cornerback Kevin Johnson, who started five games last season but will sit out this season while academically ineligible. Josh Bush had 33 tackles and four pass breakups last season, Kenny Okoro is a rising star, A.J. Marshall has three starts and Dominique Tate returns after missing last season while on academic suspension.

12. Duke: Ross Cockrell is a returning starter and finished last season with 60 tackles and 10 passes defended. He was only a freshman but he tied for eighth in the ACC with passes defended with 10 in 12 games. Johnny Williams had four pass breakups last season.

Spring preview: Coastal Division

February, 15, 2011
We've already looked at who and what to watch in the Atlantic Division this spring. Here's a breakdown of three issues facing each program in the Coastal Division:


Spring practice starts: Feb. 16

Spring game: March 26

What to watch:
  • Jim Knowles taking over as defensive coordinator. After coaching the safeties last season, Knowles was promoted in late January following the departure of Marion Hobby to coach Clemson’s defensive line. It’s not a complete overhaul on defense, but for the third time in as many seasons, a different person will be calling the plays. Knowles has also assumed the lead role with Duke’s practice scheduling and weekly preparation.
  • New faces at linebacker. Duke graduated its leading tackler from 2010, Abraham Kromah, and freshman All-American Kelby Brown is out while recovering from knee surgery. Those two slots will be wide open this spring and the competition will be among Austin Gamble, C.J. France, Tyree Glover and Kevin Rojas.
  • Offensive line shuffling. The Blue Devils return four starters up front, but they’ll be missing the glue of the line in Bryan Morgan, who graduated. Brian Moore, who has started the past two seasons at right guard, will make the transition to center. John Coleman and Laken Tomlinson are expected to compete for the right guard spot.

Spring practice starts: March 28 (tentative)

Spring game: April 23

What to watch:
  • Starting quarterback competition. Tevin Washington enters the spring at No. 1 on the depth chart, and it's his job to lose, as he has the most experience after taking over for injured starter Joshua Nesbitt in 2010. Synjyn Days will give him legitimate competition this spring, though, and it will increase this summer with the addition of standout recruit Vad Lee to the roster. For now, though, it’s between Washington and Days, as David Sims is expected to move to B-back.
  • Offensive line reshuffling. Georgia Tech will have to replace three starters in all-conference center Sean Bedford, right tackle Austin Barrick and left tackle Nick Claytor, who decided to leave early for the NFL draft. Phil Smith, Barrick’s backup last year, is the only one with any experience at tackle. The staff will likely have to move a player or two from guard to tackle, and only it knows who those candidates might be right now.
  • Revamped secondary. Jerrard Tarrant's decision to leave school early and enter the NFL draft left the Jackets without any returning starters in the secondary. Junior cornerback Rod Sweeting, sophomore cornerback Louis Young, redshirt freshman cornerback Ryan Ayers and sophomore safety Fred Holton are front-runners, but they all have a lot to prove this spring. Holton and Young played sparingly as true freshmen and combined for 21 tackles. Sweeting played in all 13 games and had one fumble recovery and eight passes defended, including one interception. Senior cornerback Michael Peterson may help, and safety Jemea Thomas played as a true freshman in 2009 but redshirted last year. There’s some talent, but the inexperience makes it a question mark.

Spring practice starts: March 5

Spring game: April 9 or 16

What to watch:
  • New staff, new schemes. Defensively, first-year coordinator Mark D’Onofrio will work with two other assistants who were with him and first-year coach Al Golden at Temple, so there is familiarity there. Linebackers coach Michael Barrow has to learn D’Onofrio’s system, but the players tend to pick it up faster if the majority of the staff is already acclimated to it. Offensively, everyone will be working together for the first time. Jedd Fisch wants to run a pure pro-style offense based on matchups, and the good news is that several of the assistants, because of their respective backgrounds, are already schooled in at least a version of it.
  • Quarterback battle. Golden has said he would like to name a starter by the end of the spring, making these practices critical auditions for both Jacory Harris and Stephen Morris. Harris has both flourished and flopped as a starter for the Canes, and his injury last year gave Morris the opportunity he needed to win the people’s choice award. Has a new era of quarterback begun, or will Harris finally have the breakout season Miami fans have waited for in his final year as a Cane?
  • Corner competition. Following the departures of Ryan Hill, DeMarcus Van Dyke and Brandon Harris, Brandon McGee is the only corner remaining on the roster with any significant experience. He played in 11 games, started one, and had 15 tackles. Redshirt freshman Devont’a Davis, sophomore Kacey Rodgers, and redshirt sophomore Jamal Reid will also compete for playing time. There are also several incoming freshmen who could be immediate contributors.

Spring practice starts: March 16

Spring game: April 9

What to watch:
  • The rookie quarterbacks. There’s no guarantee that Bryn Renner will be the Tar Heels’ starter in 2011, but he enters the spring slightly ahead of the race, as he was No. 2 on the depth chart last season and was pushing T.J. Yates for the starting job at this time a year ago. The staff would also like to see what true freshman Marquise Williams, who enrolled in January, has to offer. Braden Hanson and A.J. Blue will also compete for playing time. Blue was injured two years ago and redshirted last season.
  • Running backs race. The Tar Heels graduated three key players from 2010: Johnny White, Anthony Elzy and Shaun Draughn. Ryan Houston is back for his fifth year after redshirting last year and is the most experienced of the returnees. Giovani Bernard was a true freshman last year and had been expected to get some playing time, but he tore his ACL on the third day of training camp. It’s not clear yet how much he’ll be able to participate this spring. Hunter Furr played sparingly last year and true freshman Travis Riley, who enrolled in January, are also in the mix.
  • Another strong defensive line. If Quinton Coples was an all-conference selection as a defensive tackle, he could be scary good at his natural position, defensive end. Coples played there as a freshman and sophomore, but switched to tackle out of necessity last season. The defensive line should once again be the strength of the team, but it will be reconfigured again, as Coples’ move will leave a defensive tackle spot up for grabs. Junior college transfer Sylvester Williams, who enrolled in January, could fill that role.

Spring practice starts: March 16

Spring game: April 2

What to watch:
  • The search for a new starting quarterback. With Marc Verica graduated, the lead contenders to replace him are the ones who saw the field last year -- Michael Rocco and Ross Metheny. Neither of them started, but Rocco played in six games and Metheny five. Nobody has thrown the ball more than Rocco’s 25 times. The staff will also look at Michael Strauss, who redshirted last year, Miles Gooch, and David Watford, who enrolled in January.
  • Competition at running back. With leading rusher Keith Payne graduated, the question becomes what can Kevin Parks do after redshirting last year? There’s a lot of depth at the running back position, but Parks, the No. 56 running back in his class by and national prep record-setter out of the state of North Carolina, came to Charlottesville facing high expectations. With Payne gone, this could open the door for him to meet them, but returning starter Perry Jones will also be competing for carries.
  • Development of the receivers. In January, Jared Green Tweeted that he had decided to transfer after finishing his degree in Charlottesville this spring, according to a school spokesman. His departure, coupled with the graduation of Dontrelle Inman, leaves the Cavaliers without two of their top wideouts from 2010. With Tim Smith coming off an injury, the development of other receivers will be critical -- especially with a new starting quarterback.

Spring practice starts: March 30

Spring game: April 23

What to watch:
  • Quarterback Logan Thomas. The Tyrod Taylor era is over, and Thomas is the front-runner to succeed the winningest quarterback in school history. Ju-Ju Clayton is the only other quarterback on the roster who’s ever taken a snap, and he’ll push Thomas this spring. It’s Thomas’ job to lose, but the staff is looking for him to improve his accuracy. He played quarterback in only his final two high school seasons and was projected as a tight end. He’s still raw and learning the position, but physically, he’s a clone of Cam Newton. If he develops some poise in the pocket, look out.
  • Competition on the defensive line. The Hokies have to replace starters John Graves (defensive tackle) and Steven Friday (defensive end), who both graduated. They’ve got Antoine Hopkins and Chris Drager back, but it’s possible Drager could move back to tight end after starting 10 games at defensive end last year. Tackle Kwamaine Battle, who started the first two games before he tore his ACL and Hopkins took over, is another front-runner. Hopkins’ younger brother, Derrick, will also be in the mix, along with James Gayle and J.R. Collins. Redshirt freshman defensive end Zack McCray, the cousin of Logan Thomas, has also impressed the staff so far.
  • Tight end auditions. The graduation of Andre Smith leaves the Hokies with only one returning tight end who’s caught a pass in a game, Randall Dunn (one). Redshirt freshman Eric Martin was the second tight end when the Hokies used two-tight end sets, but he missed three games mid-season with an injury.

Weekend rewind

December, 27, 2010
For those of you who were still celebrating with family Sunday, here's a quick recap of the weekend's news:
  • Georgia Tech senior DE Anthony Egbuniwe, junior DB Michael Peterson and freshman DB Louis Young will sit out the first half of Monday's AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl against Air Force because they missed a team curfew. Egbuniwe started all 12 regular-season games. Young has been one of the top reserves in the secondary, and Peterson is a backup corner and a member of special teams.
  • Virginia Tech’s arrival to South Florida for the Discover Orange Bowl has been delayed until 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday because of heavy snow to in eastern Virginia. The NC State Champs Sports Bowl pep rally, which was scheduled for 5:45 p.m. on Monday at Pointe Orlando, has been canceled. The Wolfpack band and cheerleaders had planned to leave from campus on Sunday morning, but because of snow in the area, students in both groups were unable to get back to Raleigh after spending Christmas at home. The band and cheerleaders are now scheduled to leave Raleigh this morning and will be in Orlando in plenty of time for game-day activities on Tuesday.
  • Florida State starting tight end Beau Reliford is academically ineligible to compete in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl and was not with the team in Atlanta. Junior left tackle Andrew Datko, whose shoulder injuries prevented him from practicing in Tallahassee, worked with the first team throughout Sunday’s session in Atlanta. Quarterback Christian Ponder and offensive lineman Rodney Hudson have both accepted invitations to the Under Armour Senior Bowl. The game is Jan. 29 in Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala., and will be televised live on NFL Network.

A few Georgia Tech notes

September, 4, 2010
Georgia Tech beat South Carolina State 41-10 in its tuneup for next week's road trip to Kansas. Here are a few notes for you from the game:
  • No true freshmen started, but at least four played -- safety Isaiah Johnson, outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu, running back B.J. Bostic and cornerback Louis Young.
  • Georgia Tech has scored at least one rushing touchdown in 26 of 28 games under Paul Johnson.
  • Quarterback Joshua Nesbitt has rushed for touchdowns in season openers in 2008, 2009 and 2010. He has rushed for two or more touchdowns in a game eight times in his career. With 130 yards rushing, he now has five career 100-yard rushing games.
  • Kicker Scott Blair entered today’s game having made 41 consecutive extra-point attemps. Blair’s streak remains alive as the botched PAT in the second quarter was a “team” attempt.