2015 Football Season Positional Preview: A-Back


Nov 1, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets running back Broderick Snoddy (22) runs in their game against the Virginia Cavaliers at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Georgia Tech won 35-10. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

It’s an understatement to say the skill positions for Georgia Tech is undergoing a bit of a transition.

As an A-back in the spread option scheme, most work is done either sealing the edge with a block or getting to the edge toting the rock by using the outmost blockers. These concepts are hard to teach in a simulated environment and it may end up being a trial by fire for the Jackets in 2015.

Tony Zenon, Deon Hill and BJ Bostic, each of which averaged over 6 yards a carry and totalled 659 yards in 2014, all have exhausted their NCAA eligibility. Dennis Andrews, the former quarterback expected to start at A-back this season, was dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules, the AJC reported in June.

The leaves just one returning A-back among the top five rushers from the position for 2015, and he is coming off a gruesome leg injury. There is a mix of good young talent and enthusiasm but this group will have to take their lumps as we progress through the season.

Starters: Broderick Snoddy and Qua Searcy

Snoddy is the only senior among the group and is coming off an injury-shortened 28 carry, 283 yard (10.1 yard per carry) and 3 TD campaign. Broderick is an explosive athlete, as evidenced by his track and field accomplishments. Snoddy runs both the 100m and 200m events and placed fifth in 200m at ACC Indoor Championships in spring of 2014.

He is a tough runner in a tidy 5’9″, 190 lbs. package. Opposing defenses can kiss him goodbye if he turns the corner by a sideline. The only criticism is lacking enough lateral cutting ability, and trying to plant off a recently broken leg won’t help. Still, if the team needs to hit some home runs in 2015, look for Snoddy’s number to be called.

Qua Searcy has drawn a lot of praise from both Paul Johnson and national writers alike. He is a converted WR (I’d advise you to sense a theme here) so his ability to get into the flats and shoot through seam routes will help give Justin Thomas another option passing the ball. Due to depth at wide receiver, he redshirted in 2014 to prepare for this A-back role.

Like Snoddy, Searcy is regarded as one of the speediest guys on the team. If he can adapt to A-back quickly, specifically developing his ability to use blockers on the outside heavily, he could be a very productive freshman for Paul Johnson’s club.

Backups: Isiah Willis and ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Willis is the only other A-back to even see the field for Tech in 2014 beyond Broderick Snoddy. Willis began as a walk-on and earned a scholarship in 2013, reminiscent of Robert Godhigh before him. As a redshirt junior, he has three years of practicing in this role under his belt. He will be relied upon as a relative elder statesman under Paul Johnson.

Beyond Willis, the story has yet to be written.

Clinton Lynch, a RS freshman who hails from nearby Norcross, is another converted wide receiver. He should provide some immediate ability to stretch the field. Austin McClellan is the only other holdover from the 2013 team apart from Snoddy and Willis and enters 2015 as a fallback option despite not playing as a redshirt sophomore last year.

Mikell Lands-Davis and former QB Matthew Jordan have recently been moved to A-back to help the depth there, including offsetting the loss of Nate Cottrell to a season-ending injury, who was expected to contribute immediately as a freshman.

Jordan is larger than recent A-backs at 6’2″ and 200 lbs but his knowledge of making reads as a quarterback may help his in his newest endeavor like Dennis Andrews, Synjyn Days and David Sims before him.

Lands-Davis, TaQuon Marshall, and Omahri Jarrett are all true freshmen and may end up redshirting as is common practice for backs who come to the Flats during the current regime. If any can show an ability to block at a high enough level, they may see the field this fall, but don’t expect too much production in terms of carries from this trio.

The common theme is a lack of experience among the group. Most played different positions in high school and are learning the many intricacies of being a back in the spread option on the fly. In years past, five or six A-backs saw significant time during the season and with only three definitely options, look for Tech to use early matchups against Alcorn State and Tulane as a feeling out period for the many newcomers.

Next for Friday: B-back