After three years as a starter for the Yellow Jackets, quarterback Justin Thomas ended his career on the Flats with a bowl win over Kentucky. His absence means Paul Johnson will spend spring and summer practices searching for a new field general to run his option offense.
Georgia Tech ended 2016 with a significant upswing in momentum they’d like to carry over into the next season, but it’s never easy to replace a three year starter, especially one as impactful as Justin Thomas.
Obviously, for the Yellow Jackets to successfully maintain last season’s momentum in 2017, Johnson’s offense will need a proficient ball distributor. So who are some possible candidates to take over the top QB spot on Tech’s roster?
Seven players on the 2017 roster are currently listed as quarterbacks, and one player from the upcoming signing class has the QB tag associated with his name.
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Tech’s current listed quarterbacks are Matthew Jordan, Chase Martenson, Jay Jones, Mark Rew, TaQuon Marshall, Lucas Johnson, and Brady Swilling. Another spot on next season’s roster will be dual-threat QB Tobias Oliver, who is expected to be part of Paul Johnson’s 2017 signing class.
Probably the most obvious candidate for the starting job next season would be redshirt junior Matthew Jordan who was Tech’s clear backup behind Justin Thomas over the past two years. The Fairford, Alabama native has over 100 career rushing attempts and and has been frequently used for goal line scoring opportunities due to a size advantage over Justin Thomas. Jordan saw action in eight games in 2016, and in five games the season before.
The only other Yellow Jacket to complete a pass at the QB position in 2016 was former A-back TaQuon Marshall, who switched to the position during spring practice last April. The junior saw action early on against Mercer and Vanderbilt. A native of Hamilton, Georgia, Marshall played in seven games in 2015 at the A-back position. He was recruited as an athlete, and rated a three star prospect by most outlets.
Redshirt freshman Lucas Johnson, who flipped to Tech after committing to San Diego State for the 2016 signing class, was tabbed a pro-style QB by most recruiting sites. The San Diego native was one of the starting quarterbacks in the 2016 Blue-Grey All-American Game in Tampa, and was generally considered a three-star prospect. He sat out this past season, but has as good a shot as any QB on the roster to get an opportunity to compete this spring.
Former Northside-Warner Robins quarterback Tobias Oliver was the 15th commitment to Paul Johnson’s upcoming 2017 signing class. He had offers from Army and Troy, as well as some interest from Georgia and Georgia Southern, but chose Georgia Tech the day after the Jackets beat UGA in Athens. He became Northside’s all-time leading passer during his senior season, and finished as one of the program’s top career rushers as well.
Brady Swilling, a redshirt senior from Chatsworth, Georgia, has been with the team since 2013. He was a member of the scout team in 2014, and converted to B-back during 2015 spring drills, seeing action in a pair of games that season. Swilling didn’t see the field in 2016, but Johnson currently has Swilling listed as a quarterback again on the official depth chart.
McCalla, Alabama native Jay Jones came to Georgia Tech as a member of the 2016 recruiting class, and didn’t see any action on offense this past season. The redshirt freshman was the 18th overall prospect from Alabama, and the No. 40 athlete prospect in the nation in 2016. Jones picked up player of the year honors in his home state as a senior, and was named MVP of the National Football Association QB Invitational.
Walk on redshirt junior Chase Martenson was also a member of the 2014 scout team, and did’t seen any playing time in 2015 or 2016.
Redshirt freshman Mark Rew, a native of Columbia, South Carolina, is another walk on quarterback listed on Georgia Tech’s roster. Rew participated in the 2015 South Carolina North-South All-Star Game, and also ran track and played soccer in high school.
Georgia Tech has yet to announce the date and time for its 2017 spring football game, but the Jackets will kick off the season in a prime time Labor Day matchup in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta in the second of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff games versus Tennessee.