Georgia Tech’s fall practices start this week as the Yellow Jackets look to begin to prepare for Clemson on August 29th, the most important competition taking place this fall will be the quarterback competition which we preview here today.
RS JR Lucas Johnson:
Entering fall camp, Lucas Johnson is probably the odds on favorite to win the starting quarterback job. The San Diego, California native is the most polished passer of the returning talent and was a pocket passer coming out of high school before joining Georgia Tech under Paul Johnson and his triple-option. Johnson was slated to see playing time last season before a leg injury in fall camp ended his season before it began. Hopefully 2019 will be a better fall camp for Johnson who has the potential to be a quality quarterback for the Yellow Jackets if healthy. In the Jackets spring game he proved to be efficient and accurate, completing 12-of-16 passing attempts for 87-yards and one touchdown.
RS Sophomore – Tobias Oliver:
Oliver saw a great deal of playing time in 2018 as TaQuon Marshall’s backup when the senior signal-caller was banged up a few times during the season. During his playing time last season, Oliver looked good running the triple-option, able to make good enough reads and keep the ball off the ground. The one place he did struggle, however, was when it came to throwing the ball, completing just 43.7% of his passes and while it was a small sample size, the deficiencies in his passing game were evident. If he wants to be the starter in 2019, he’ll have to keep showing improvement in his passing game quickly.
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RS Freshman – James Graham:
We didn’t get to see much of Graham last season but did see glimpses of the 2018 recruit. A classic dual-threat quarterback, Graham is the considerable dark-horse in the quarterback competition. We didn’t get to see much of his passing game last season, attempting and completing just one pass but if he could prove to be effiecent through the air, he could be the man for the job for the Jackets in 2019.
RS Freshman – Ryan Lantz
The lone walk-on of the quarterback group here is Florida native Ryan Lantz. Lantz is probably not a realistic candidate for the starting quarterback job but could very well play his way onto the depth chart in 2019. Lantz played well in the Jackets spring game in April completing 5-of-8 passing attempts. He continues to look strong in the fall, don’t be surprised if he works his way into being a third-string quarterback.
Freshman – Jordan Yates:
Yates just arrived on campus this summer but already is fan favorite thanks to his heroics during his senior season at Milton High School, leading his team to a dramatic state championship last December. A late-rising recruit, Yates was able to gain his fourth star towards the end of the cycle as well, an honor well deserved. Like Graham, Yates is a dual-threat quarterback and should be considered a dark horse for the job. Though chances are the Jackets will likely redshirt Yates in hopes of allowing him to develop more before taking over as the starter in 2020 or 2021. He’s an exciting quarterback prospect for the Jackets and could probably be servicable as a true freshman starter but with patience from both him and the fan base, Yates could develop and take his game to another level. In an era of football where smaller quarterbacks are looked at in a greater light, Yates could be the next in line to become a star. Don’t be upset if the coaching staff gives him a year or two to develop because the payoff could be well worth the wait.
Freshman – Demetrius Knight
Knight will definitely be redshirting in 2019 but is an intriguing prospect, to say the least. Knight is a tremendous athlete and could probably play a few positions other than quarterback if the coaching staff wanted to move him around. That being said, they’ll most likely give him time at the position to see how develops and comes along in the next year or so before making any decision about his future position.
Overall, Georgia Tech’s quarterback room this fall should have plenty of competition which should help make everyone in the competition better. The Jackets starting quarterback situation is certainly looked down upon as one of the worst in the country in 2019 and expectations for whoever is the starter will be rather low from a national standpoint. It’s also quite simple, the Jackets play at quarterback in 2019 will dictate much of their success just not offensively but overall. While 2019 won’t be a make or break year for the Geoff Collins era, a lot is riding on the season as it will be the first chance recruits get to see of the Yellow Jackets in the post-Paul Johnson era. It will surely be a competition to watch throughout the fall camp and it could go right up to August 29th.