Justin Thomas could potentially go down as one of the most legendary quarterbacks to take the field for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets of all time if he continues on his present trajectory and continues to simply guide Tech to wins.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
What Thomas accomplished in his sophomore season was spectacular with moments during the journey that will be talked about in Georgia Tech lore forever.
Leading the Yellow Jackets to an 11-3 record, a Coastal Division title, and an Orange Bowl victory is a nice way to start off your career as a starting quarterback.
Going into Spring Practice with ACC Championship expectations, being on the Heisman Watch List for 2015, and gunning for a playoff spot are nice goals to be associated with and says a lot about how fans and critics alike feel about what Thomas can accomplish as far as leading his team.
But if we were to put all the team accomplishments to the side and simply focus on what people would see as growth for Justin Thomas, what would that look like.
What would fans consider next level play from Justin Thomas in his junior year?
Thomas in his sophomore season completed 51.3% of his passes for 1,719 yards with 18 touchdowns and six interceptions.
We need to keep in mind that when he amassed those numbers he was with a veteran receiving crew that will be going to play on the NFL level somewhere next season.
DeAndre Smelter caught 35 passes for 715 yards and seven touchdowns and Darren Waller grabbed 26 catches for 442 yards and six touchdowns.
They accounted for 61 of 96 completions, 1,152 out of 1,719 yards and 13 of 18 touchdowns thrown by Thomas.
With Michael Summers and Ricky Jeune spearheading a new crew of receivers coming into 2015, if Thomas is able to maintain his statistical effort passing wise from last season, that would be great.
What would be seen as next level in this aspect is for Thomas to exceed 2,000 yards and throw for 20 or more touchdowns.
Nov 29, 2014; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets quarterback Justin Thomas (5) runs against the Georgia Bulldogs during the second half at Sanford Stadium. Georgia Tech defeated Georgia 30-24 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
This would be a remarkable feat given the fact that he would be throwing to relatively unproven receivers.
That is why it is so important for him to build that chemistry with the receivers now. If he can become more accurate than the 51.3% that he threw in his first full year and pull that off with a new receiving group, fans will be able to live with that.
On the rushing side, fans should simply want Thomas to continue to be as effective as he was last season running the football. 1,086 yards and eight touchdowns was a strong year running the rock.
What is going to be seen as next level in this respect is going to be similar to what is going on with the passing game.
If he is making the right reads, while establishing a runner like C.J. Leggette as a threat to make life easier on himself, this offense is going to hum with the efficiency of last year.
What is going to make it more spectacular is the fact that Thomas is not going to have veteras like Tony Zenon, Zach Laskey or Synjyn Days toting the ball.
He is going to have to get on the same page with young inexperienced runners in order to attempt to equal last year’s 342.1 rushing yards per game last season.
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Basically what will be seen as next level for Justin Thomas is to guide the offense in a way where they surpasses the output from last season with a whole new crop of skill position players.
If he is able to put up better individual numbers, while having better team offensive numbers attached to that, and win at the same or better rate than the 11-3 record that was compiled last year, the Heisman Trophy really is not out of the question.
But as far as Thomas’ growth is concerned, being able to maintain or exceed the accomplishments of 2014 with a new crew surrounding him would be considered next level.