Practice report: Tech held its second and final two-a-day Tuesday, going in full pads in the morning and then in shoulder pads and shorts in the afternoon.
Speaking after the first practice, Johnson said the practice “was OK. It drug a little bit in spots.” The players were rewarded midway through the afternoon practice — the 14th of the preseason — with a visit from an ice-cream truck.
Middle linebacker Jabari Hunt-Days produced one of the bigger hits of the team’s morning practice, dropping walk-on running back Jerredith Jiles in a goal-line drill.
“He followed through my alley, so I had to go and hit him, and I hit him,” Hunt-Days said. “He didn’t get in the end zone.”
To his credit, Jiles got up with a smile on his face, Hunt-Days said.
“That’s Jerredith,” he said. “He smiles all the time.”
Injury report: Center Jay Finch is expected to return to practice Wednesday, his first practice since undergoing shoulder surgery in the winter. For most of the preseason, the Tech line has been without three expected starters — offensive tackles Ray Beno and Morgan Bailey and Finch. Bailey underwent an unspecified surgical procedure and is expected back in about four weeks. Beno, out with an unspecified injury, is expected back soon.
Johnson is evidently eager to have the line intact soon.
“They’ve been saying day-to-day now for a week and a half,” Johnson said of Beno’s status.
Liking safety: Defensive back Domonique Noble, recently moved from cornerback to safety, is happily ensconced.
“I love it,” he said of the switch.
Defensive coordinator Ted Roof made the move, thinking Noble’s skillset, length and range suited him to play free safety. On his third play in the first practice after the change, he intercepted a pass, one of several he has made during camp. Noble is listed second on the depth chart, along with Coray Carlson, behind Jamal Golden, although Isaiah Johnson likely will take back the spot when he is cleared to play after recovering from his ACL tear.
“It’s going good,” Noble said. “It’s a big learning experience, but gradually I seem to pick it up more and more every day.”
Holton transfers: Former safety Fred Holton has transferred to Valdosta State. He enrolled Tuesday, according to a school spokesman. Johnson dismissed Holton from the team Aug. 2 for violations of team rules.
In dropping to Division II, Holton can play immediately and has two years of eligibility remaining. He could gain a third season through a medical hardship waiver, having missed all of the 2011 and 2012 seasons with injuries suffered in preseason camp.
Valdosta State is the defending Division II national champion. The Blazers are coached by David Dean, a former Tech wide receiver. The school is about an hour’s drive from Holton’s hometown of Thomasville.