ATLANTA, GA - Georgia Tech football's 2014 preseason is officially under way. The team continued preseason camp Saturday by completing their third practice leading up to the season opener on August 30. Saturday was also an unofficial 2014 season kickoff of sorts, highlighted by both Media Day and Fan Day. GTSwarm's @John, @PowderSpringsJacket88, and @CuseJacket were fortunate to be a part of it.
The day started with players streaming in for 9:30am practice. The team made it to Rose Bowl field and the John and Mary Brock Football Practice Facility 10-15 minutes early, an early indicator of the positive energy observed throughout the day's events.
Media was allowed for the first 20 minutes during warmups and start of special teams practice. Standing next to the players was a visual reminder of how much work the players put in during the offseason. Several players made obvious strides in the weight room, not the least of which were guys in offensive and defensive positions of great interest. Justin Thomas #5, Pat Gamble #91, and Francis Kallon #92 all passed the eye test. Their progress during camp continues to be a hot topic among fans that we intend to follow closely.
Shaq Mason #70 and Trey Braun #78 have established themselves as leaders of the offensive line as evidenced by them leading the unit through stretches. Their leadership and the overall health of offensive line going into camp is something that excites QB's Thomas and Byerly. When asked during the afternoon media session what it's like to work behind a healthy line Byerly stated, "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."
The incoming freshman class has many Tech fans excited. When asked which young guys have looked good so far, safety Jamal Golden #4 replied, "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." Some other players noted during player interviews include Step Durham #29, C.J. Leggett #30, and Qua Searcy #82. Searcy is starting out at wide receiver and was also one of four players seen fielding punts during practice.
When asked about personal goals this year, the common theme among players was to deflect to larger team goals. As a leader of the defense Golden's answer was no surprise, "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." Byerly continued plainly, "Ultimately, I just want to win."
GTSwarm's complete player interviews are posted here where you'll find more from Justin Thomas, D.J. White, Zach Laskey, Jamal Golden, Tim Byerly, and Isaiah Johnson. There is plenty of good stuff, including Laskey's offseason preparation to carry the load at B-Back this year, D.J. White's efforts to continue his momentum from the Music City Bowl, and more on the 2014 freshman class.