The Georgia Tech football team, the staff, Buzz, and cheerleaders partake in GT Fan Day on Saturday August 2nd, 2014.
Q: How's practice going so far?
A: It's been a good few days. We've been in shells and helmets for most of the time. It's been pretty productive so far. We should get a good look on Monday when everyone puts the pads on.
Q: How are you and Justin splitting snaps right now?
A: Justin is with the 1's. I'm with the 2's. Occasionally I'll go over with the 1's and Matthew Jordan will work with the 2's.
Q: What's it like working behind a healthy O-Line?
A: Oh man, it is awesome. We have a ton of depth there. Shaq and Trey Braun are really taking control and making sure the new guys know what they're doing. That helps Justin and I a lot. We feel way more comfortable going up to the line. We don't have to check a play to a better position outside since we're more balanced. It helps us a lot.
Q: Paul Johnson has compared you to Josh Nesbitt. How does that make you feel?
A: Josh did a great job and he was very successful in this offense. To be compared to him is a great compliment.
Q: Have you watched any of his tape?
A: Oh yea, we watch it all the time. I even look back at bios online, including Coach Johnson's from his days at Navy. Josh is a fun player to watch.
Q: We're all familiar with Zach Laskey as he's been in the program quite a while. How are the rest of the B-Backs looking so far?
A: Matt Connors - he knows what he's doing every play and is a real physical guy. Donovan Wilson - he's one of the hardest workers on the team. Then C.J. Leggett, the new kid, he did a lot in High School. He's probably ahead of the learning curve right now. He is very willing to learn and he's up to speed on the physical side of things. If we can get him up to speed with the playbook then I wouldn't be surprised to see him play.
Q: What are you personal goals this year?
A: I would like to play, of course. Overall I hope to develop some kind of leadership role. And ultimately, I just want to win.
Q: Like Josh Nesbitt you have a reputation for playing well in the trash as Paul Johnson alluded to in his press conference 30 minutes ago. As you're moving around in there who is the guy you least want to see coming the other direction right at you on our team?
A: Adam Gotsis is not one to mess around with. Jabari is not fun to mess around with. Quayshawn as well. I would prefer they not be there, but if they're there, they're there.
Q: How are things going with the WR group so far?
A: We've probably been more on the same page than we have been at any point this year. Darren Waller, DeAndre, and Michael Summers - those are our big 3 that we're looking to this year in terms of making big plays. They are big guys. Justin and I have worked with them a lot this summer running routes. Those are going to be our big-time players. We're going to need that as that balances our playbook. If you can throw it out wide 3-4 times a game they're going to be looked at to make a play.
Q: Are there any new players that are standing out?
A: C.J. is standing out. Qua Searcy is looking pretty solid as a receiver. He's a little small but he's got great hands and runs good routes. C.J. will be the big-time guy there. He's here to work and he comes out with his game-face every single day. Zach and Matt have done a great job coaching up C.J. to be game-ready.
Q: The D-Line lost a lot to graduation and during the offseason. How are they looking so far?
A: We'll get a better look at that Monday when we go to full pads. It's an opportunity for some guys to step up. With a leader like Adam [Gotsis] on defense, he'll make sure those guys are ready. It doesn't matter who we have - guys will be ready to step up.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.