Jamal Golden #4 DB

Q: How are special teams looking so far in camp?

A: We just got a new coach - Coach Ray - who came in. He's a very intense coach and I'm very excited to play for him. I feel like special teams is going to be one of our strong points this year.

Q: What kind of changes has Coach Ray made to coverage, the return game, or in the way you go through practice drills?

A: Practice drills are a little different. They're a little more intense and a little more organized. But honestly it's too soon to tell. He's a great coach, he's intense, and he gets after you on the little things. If you don't do the little things right then he's not going to put you on the field.

Q: Are you completely healthy?

A: I'm good. I'm good to go. I'm 100% and it's a great feeling to be back in fall camp with the pads on.

Q: Obviously you get a lot of attention for your ability in the return game. I know you take a lot of pride in being a top safety as well. What have you done to work on that aspect of your game?

A: Stay in the film room. I stayed in every meeting last season when I got injured. I've been to every workout this offseason. I'm learning the game as much as I can so that it slows down and I can play fast.

Q: What are your personal goals this year?

A: Be top in the ACC. Right now I'm most worried about our team goal which is to get to Charlotte. Really my personal goal is to do whatever I can to get us to Charlotte.

Q: Due to departures the D-Line is short on depth. Are you guys doing anything special defensively or team-wise to account for that lack of depth?

A: We're doing our regular stuff. Obviously we lost Jeremiah, Euclid, and Too Tall to graduation. We have some guys ready to step up. Adam Gotsis is obviously going to be a good player. Shawn Green has played - I guess people forget about him, but he's played a lot and is a good player too. Tyler Stargel and KeShun Freeman are at the ends. And then we have guys like Pat Gamble and Francis Kallon, so we have guys on the D-Line. We're going to make plays there.

@CuseJacket interviews Golden

Q: What young guys have looked good so far on defense?

A: KeShun Freeman has looked really good. Then you have the Austin twins who have come in and have been very impressive. They're very skilled. They're still learning the game right now but I feel like they're going to be very good players.

Q: Superlatives- Who is the toughest guy to cover on offense?

A: I'll give it to Tony Zenon. He's very shifty. It's hard to see which way he's going to break. He's the toughest A-Back to hit. Then at WR you have Darren Waller and Deandre [Smelter]. They're both big guys. They're hard to cover and they can go up and get the ball. They give me some great competition as do the rest of the guys. It's a competition every day.

Q: Who's the one guy on the O-Line you least want to see pull on an offensive play or release to the second level?

A: Shaq. Shaq. Definitely Shaq.

Q: Sounds like there might be a personal experience in there somewhere.

A: Yea, I've gone against Shaq many-a-time. With our OL, they fire off the ball and move very well. They get up to the 2nd level very quickly, so if you don't see them they can get you.

Q: Who is the toughest guy to tackle?

A: Tim Byerly and Donovan [Wilson] are tough. It's hard to pick one person. Obviously Zach Laskey is a bruiser. They're all tough runners on offense.

Zach Laskey #37 BB

Q: How has Justin been doing as the starter thus far?

A: He's definitely stepped up. He's kind of a shy guy but on the football field he's spoken up a little bit more and is trying to take the reigns of this offense.

Q: What have you done this offseason to prepare for carrying the load this year?

A: I picked up 5 or 6 pounds. I dropped my body fat percentage a little bit. I'm a little bit bigger so I can take more of those hits. I got stronger at the squat rack so I'll be able to explode on people. And conditioning. Every day you've got to do something to get better. I really want to maximize my potential while I'm here.

Q: Are the preseason projections for Georgia Tech motivation for the team?

A: Oh yeah, no doubt. The team sees that. Every year we kind of get put on the back burner. This year I'm really hoping we step up and take it to the next level. We're always just a game or two away from doing that.

Q: How is the depth looking behind you? Obviously you have a lot of new guys; what is your role in getting them ramped up?

A: This offseason every Tuesday and Thursday nights, as well as Wednesday morning, we did mesh drills and worked on [dive] tracks. This summer I took C.J. in a little bit to teach him plays so that he wouldn't be far behind. Right now we're letting the younger guys work to see what they can do in camp. I'm helping out in any way I can.

Q: What's it like lining up behind a healthy O-Line to start camp?

A: It's always exciting. It's always great when you have a healthy O-Line. Right now we have four units rolling, so I think this is the healthiest we've ever had on the O-Line. It's really nice.

Q: What are your personal goals this year?

A: I just want to be the guy that can carry the load. 1,000 yards rushing. I just want to be the guy that the team can depend on to make big plays.

D.J. White #28 CB

Q: How's it going?

A: Everything is great, life is good.

Q: You closed out last year pretty strong with a good showing in the Music City Bowl. How's your offseason been and what have you improved on?

A: I feel like I've been improving on my game as a whole, up in the press and defending deep. Still some improvements to be made and still working hard.

Q: How far along are you guys in learning the 4-2-5?

D.J. White smiles at the camera

A: It's great. A lot of the things you do in the 4-2-5 are similar to the 4-3. Same concepts except you have another DB. Replacing the LB the DB has coverage concepts he has to learn. We're getting along pretty good.

Q: Who is looking good so far in the defensive backfield?

A: It's hard to choose because everybody is getting better and making plays. From a cornerback perspective I really like how our young guys are doing. Everybody is playing well. The young guys in the offseason like Step Durham have been coming on strong. I'm excited about the group.

Q: Are you going to have any role in special teams?

A: I hope so. I'm trying out for that right now. Hopefully the coaches will give me a shot at returning. We'll see what happens. Whatever they ask me to do I'm going to do full speed.

Q: What are your expectations for your performance this year?

A: I'm a very high expectations guy. I see myself personally being one of the top defensive backs in the country. That's what I'm shooting for and that's my goal. Hopefully I can develop the other guys along with me.

Justin Thomas #5 QB

Q: How was practice today?

A: It was good. We got better than yesterday.

Q: Justin, what was your focus this offseason? Obviously it looks like you've gotten a little bigger; what else have you been working on in addition to that?

A: Like you said, I've been trying to get in the weight room to put some more weight on. Just working with guys [on the field] to make sure we're on the same page.

Q: What can you tell us about the offensive line so far?

A: First thing off the bat we have a lot of depth - more depth than we've had in a while. Right now we're really getting the young guys to know what they're doing.

Q: What are your personal goals this year?

A: Just to be successful. Go out there and play as hard as I can every game and try to come out on the right end.

Isaiah Johnson #1 S

Q: Did you get a chance to read the recent ESPN article that came out?

A: Somebody sent it to me but I just try not to pay attention to the media too much.

Q: As one of the leaders of the defense, is there anything that you are doing differently in practices?

A: Just trying to lead by example as well as teach and relay any type of message that I've learned from past experiences to others and being more vocal.

Q: Some fans are saying that you're going to have 20 interceptions this season, is that true?

A: [Laughs] We will see! It will be more than the past, I can tell you that!

Q: Even though you were injured and unable to play last season, what do you think about Coach Roof's approach to coaching?

A: I love it! Since day one, [Coach Roof] has been working with us on the little things. I feel like, at this point just from watching other teams, everyone has pretty much the same plays but it really comes down to the coaching and teaching the fundamentals and the little things that count. Coach Roof focuses on the little things like where is your eye placement and where is your alignment; I appreciate that.

Q: Are there any younger players that caught your eye so far? Any sleepers?

A: I really like the [Austin] twins, the incoming freshmen. Starting from the summer time when we were doing our 7-on-7s, I was blown away by how ready they are already. It seems like they've been here for a while. They are still learning but I think they will be big time.

Q: Every year the media has low expectations from Georgia Tech and every year GT exceeds those expectations, will it be the same this year?

A: Of course! But we ignore that and know what we have to do. We haven't met up to our own expectations in the past so we have to put that behind us, make progress, and play to the best of our ability.