Our final preliminary position preview for the 2020 season looks at the Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket’s special teams unit.
While defense does win championships, a strong special teams unit is often another major factor over the course of a season. While Georgia Tech won’t be competing for any national championships in 2020, they return a special teams unit that has plenty of potential and has little questions.
Kicker: With both Brenton King and Wesley Wells moving on from the program, the Yellow Jackets will be breaking in a brand new kicker in 2020. That likely kicker will be freshman walk-on Steven Verdisco out of Tampa, Florida. Verdisco is considered both a borderline top-50 kicker and punter in the nation by Kohl’s Kicking Camps. It’s a tough job for a freshman to step into but if Verdisco doesn’t workout this season, the Jackets will turn to redshirt sophomore Cliff Gandis.
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Punter: The Jackets will be returning one of the best punters in the nation with Pressley Harvin III returning for his fourth and final year on The Flats. Harvin III is coming off a strong 2019 season in which he averaged 44.8 yards per punt, the highest average of his career. His season earned him second-team All-ACC honors .
Kick Returner: The Jacket with the most returns last year was former quarterback and now Mr. Do It All, Tobias Oliver. Oliver will most likely take over the kick return duties this year thanks to his tremendous speed and athleticism. Last year, he returned 14 kickoffs for 297-yards, an average of 21.2 yards per return. Also returning kicks will be Juanyeh Thomas and Dontae Smith.
Punt Returner: At punt returner will be star wide receiver and speedster Ahmarean Brown. The Jackets didn’t return many punts last year as a team (just 16 total) but when they did, Brown returned a majority of them with 10 on the season. However, he only averaged 3.4 yards per return. He’ll look to improve that average in 2020 if he gets the opportunity.
Overall, outside of the questions at kicker, the Yellow Jackets return a nice unit with their special teams. They have one of the nation’s best punters in Pressley Harvin III and in the return game have two incredible talents in terms of athleticism, agility, speed, and elusiveness. With a full of year of returning experience under their belts, both Oliver and Brown should be more dangerous in the return game this season and are threats to take it the house any time they touch the ball. Kicker, will be the x-factor obviously of the unit, will Verdisco or Gandis be able to take over King and Wells? Will there be struggles and questions? Last year, a poor kicking game hampered the Jakcets offense quite a bit, if there’s struggles again in 2020, it won’t spell good news for the Yellow Jackets.