Dedrick Mills popular choice among Jackets as breakout player

Thankfully, many of Georgia Tech linebacker Terrell Lewis’ took the bait more than he did. Over the preseason, several Yellow Jackets were asked who they predicted would be a breakout player for the team this season.

When queried, Lewis gave an answer that was at once honest and deft.

“Breakout player?” Lewis asked. “I couldn’t tell you. I’ve got to wait for the season to start to tell you the breakout player.”

Other players were more daring in their answers, and a number went with early-enrollee freshman B-back Dedrick Mills. They were proven at least partially correct this week, when coach Paul Johnson named him the starter for Saturday’s season opener against Boston College in Dublin. He’ll be the first first-year freshman to start in the season opener at any position since 2008.

A sampling of players’ predictions:

Linebacker P.J. Davis – B-back Dedrick Mills: "I would say right now, I kind of like the young freshman Dedrick Mills. I'd say people can watch out for him. He looks like a pretty good player so far."

A-back Isiah Willis – A-back Qua Searcy: "I think Qua's going to be a big breakout player for us. I know he had some sparks last year in his first two games and had the unfortunate injury. He's definitely going to be a playmaker for us, I feel.

Wide receiver Ricky Jeune – quarterback Justin Thomas: "I feel like there's a lot of breakout players, but I'm going with Justin Thomas because two years ago, he had some really great numbers. I feel like this year he can match those great numbers (from) the Orange Bowl year."

Center Freddie Burden – B-back Marcus Marshall: "Me personally, offensively, I think Marcus Marshall is going to have a big year. I think he was a good player for us last year, he's still young, he's still learning, but I think he's ready to go now."

Quarterback Justin Thomas – multiple players: "I can't just put my finger on one. I'm expecting a lot of guys to have a breakout year –A-back, B-back, line and receivers. You've still got (wide receiver) Brad (Stewart) that was young in the system last year; but he knows a lot more what's going on. (A-back) J.J. (Green) is playing, (A-back) Clinton Lynch is back, Marcus (Marshall), D-Mill (Mills), (B-back) Marcus Allen. I think truthfully, everybody's got a chance to have a big year, and that's what we're expecting.

A-back Lynn Griffin – Mills: "I would definitely say Dedrick Mills. He's a monster. Big kid, physical fast, and he can make cuts in between the tackles."

Linebacker Brant Mitchell – linebackers Lewis and David Curry: "We've got Terrell Lewis … and David Curry, he was a redshirt last year, he's really working hard. I think, in specific, the linebacking corps, those two are really going to help."

Searcy – Lynch: "I definitely see Clinton Lynch being a breakout player. He had a pretty good season last year. I think he'll build on that even more this year. … Last year, he attacked the ball pretty well. I feel like that's one of his strong points, going up and attacking the ball. If we just throw it to him, I think he'll go get it."

Defensive back Lawrence Austin – safety A.J. Gray: "I would say A.J. Gray. We've got a bunch of young guys, the whole defense is young, so we should have a bunch of young guys being breakouts this year. We have to see. … (Gray) has started telling me, 'Hey, watch out for this, watch out for that.' He's just more knowledgeable about the defense, and that's great for him."

Linebacker Chase Alford – defensive end Antonio Simmons and defensive tackles: "I've been seeing what he's doing, helping me out at linebacker make plays because of what he's doing in front of me. That's what I've noticed, him and the interior d-linemen, just all of them. Most people don't see it, but they're in the trenches getting dirty and taking all the heat and we get to go make the plays."