For fans, spring football is the first glimpse into the strides the team has made since the end of the season. It also serves a sneak peek into the potential for the upcoming season. Spring football is the time where some questions start being answered, and new questions begin to form. Although this year’s game taking place on April 23rd will not solidify all conclusions, it will provide a closer look into three main areas: growth from returning players, outlook for the new transfers, and scheme fit for the new signees.
Tech is bringing back several key players on both sides of the ball. Last season on the offensive side, the true freshman tandem of Jeff Sims and Jahmyr Gibbs demonstrated great promise for what the offense can become. There is much anticipation for the level of improvement they have made through the offseason. After having one season under his belt and the offseason, one area to watch will be how Sims and the offense have evolved. Additionally, the offensive line’s leader Ryan Johnson will be returning. He was the anchor for the offense and will look to be an integral part of a strong offensive line.
On the defensive side, defensive back Tariq Carpenter headlines the list of returnees. One of the biggest areas where the Jackets are looking to improve from a defensive standpoint is the secondary. Carpenter started every game and was able to consistently make impact plays. He will be an important leader as he looks to improve himself, mentor those around him and rebuild the position group. The spring game provides an opportunity to see the impact of him staying an extra year.
In addition to the returning players, Tech made some big moves through the transfer portal to improve their roster. An important transfer was kicker Brent Cimaglia from Tennessee. He was one of the top kickers available in the transfer portal. Last year, Tech opted to go for it on fourth down in many instances because of their level of instability at the position. The impact of Cimaglia can change the decision making of the team in times of going for it versus kicking the field goal. Cimaglia is not enrolled just yet, but he will be eligible come the fall season.
Another area where the team looks to improve is the big play ability through the air. Last year, wide receiver Jalen Camp was the leading receiver, but he is taking his talents to the NFL. For the wide receivers, Tech landed Kyric McGowan from Northwestern. McGowan was listed as one of the top receivers in the transfer portal. He will be looking to make an immediate impact and be a consistent receiver for Sims.
Defensively, Tech added a couple of the top defensive ends from the transfer portal, including Makius Scott and Keion White. Last season, Tech struggled to stop the run, but they have greatly improved this area by bringing in some top defensive ends. Fans have much to be excited for as they will see plenty of new talent suiting up for the Jackets for the first time after a busy offseason.
Not only did Tech improve their roster through the transfer portal, but they also added some top tier talent through new signees. Many of the top players from the class of 2021 will join the team beginning the summer, but many have already enrolled.
There are a wide range of positions represented in the new enrollees, including two standout offensive linemen to watch, Weston Franklin and Jakiah Leftwich. They will both be important in helping Gibbs and Sims take the offense to their full potential.
On the defensive side of the ball, there is plenty of high-powered talent. It begins with Trenilyas Tatum at outside linebacker, and Kaleb Edwards at safety joins Joshua Robinson and Grey Carroll at defensive end to headline the class.
These players look to be key contributors right away and help to continue to build the program. Although some players from the incoming class, including multiple four-star talents, still have time to join, the early enrollees will be intriguing players to watch.
As the spring season rapidly approaches, there are plenty of storylines to watch for. It will be interesting to see which questions will be answered and what new surprises await. Regardless, it will be exciting to watch the Jackets suit up in Bobby Dodd and give fans a sneak peek into what to look forward to for the season ahead. Geoff Collins is surely hopeful that the fans will be satisfied.