Injuries required Georgia Tech to plumb the depth chart Saturday, as freshman Jahaziel Lee made his first career start at left tackle. He joined classmate Parker Braun on the left side of the line, with Braun making his second career start at left guard after his starting debut last week.
Both Braun and Lee did their parts well enough, as the line largely protected for quarterback Justin Thomas in the passing game and created push in the running game for 279 rushing yards and a healthy 6.0 yards-per-carry average.
“They’re good,” Thomas said of Lee and Braun. “They made the calls like they were supposed to. They did their job. I felt pretty good up there with them.”
Braun had played significant amounts before getting his first start against Pitt, but Lee, who played defensive line in high school in Ponchatoula, La., had played on a limited basis through the first six games. However, injuries to offensive tackles Trey Klock and Andrew Marshall pushed him up the depth chart. Braun has evidently moved ahead of Will Bryan, who himself started as a freshman last season.
“I’d have to watch the tape, but I thought he did OK,” coach Paul Johnson said of Lee. “I know he’ll play hard. He and Parker were side-by-side over there, and we were running (B-back) Dedrick Mills behind ’em, so we had three true freshmen over there on the left side.”
Braun and Lee join select company. In Johnson’s nine seasons at Tech, only two other offensive linemen have started as freshmen — Shaquille Mason and Bryan. A third offensive lineman in Tech’s 2016 signing class, Kenny Cooper, has also played and is the backup center behind Freddie Burden.