Five players who are high Tech so far

Georgia Tech entered preseason camp with a lot of questions. Who would emerge as the top B-back? Would there be enough talent and depth at wide receiver? Would the defense be better?

Those questions won't find complete answers until the end of November. But over the course of the four-week run-up to the Yellow Jackets' season opener, coming on Thursday against Western Carolina at Bobby Dodd Stadium, the puzzle of Tech's lineup and its potential began to fit together. Through their performance in practices and scrimmages, the following five players helped sort out the pieces:

Izaan Cross

The junior defensive end made an immediate impression by coming into camp about 10 pounds under his playing weight from last year and in better condition. Determined to play with a more consistent effort, Cross showed consistency and productivity throughout camp, along with end Jason Peters and tackle Logan Walls. He's on a short list of possible break-out players this season.

"His pad level and footwork have probably had the best improvement," Walls said.

Vad Lee

The quarterback entered the preseason as the most talked about true freshman, and his performance early in practice did nothing to temper enthusiasm. Coach Paul Johnson and quarterbacks and B-backs coach Brian Bohannon raved about Lee's capacity to study and absorb the offense, as well as his maturity and drive.

"I think he shocked the coaches with how much he knew and how he could read coverages and stuff like that," B-back David Sims said.

He showed flashes of potential as well as reminders that he has a lot to learn. He hit something of a wall towards the end of camp, but remains a possibility to play this fall.

"I think he's trying to push through [the wall] and learn as much as he can," Sims said.

Jeff Greene

Johnson had said prior to camp opening that there was a good chance that a true freshman wide receiver or two could crack the depth chart. Greene, who took advantage of a depth shortage and injuries, had made the coach prophetic. With size and the ability go high in the air for catches, Greene has been an inviting target to Tech's quarterbacks.

Greene will start the season as the No. 3 receiver behind Stephen Hill and Tyler Melton. Don't be surprised if he ends up in the starting lineup.

"[Fans are] going to look at a tall, go-get-the-ball-type wide receiver," said Hill, who had a productive camp himself. "He can control his speed very well, as young as he is, but he's been making plays during camp, and we're looking forward to him doing that on the field."

David Sims

The converted quarterback was the most improved player from spring practice. Sims switched to B-back in the spring and came into preseason camp fourth on the depth chart. Sims' hard work in the summer to learn the position showed quickly in August. From the start, the sophomore impressed coaches with his quickness and better feel for the position, along with his hard-running style and productivity.

Two weeks into camp, Sims had caught B-backs Charles Perkins and Preston Lyons. Last week, he passed them. The release of the new depth chart Monday listed Sims as the starter. While the B-back competition is far from over, Sims earned the early lead.

"His effort and intensity was higher than the rest," Bohannon said.

Tony Zenon

A redshirt freshman A-back, Zenon followed up an impressive spring practice and eye-catching performances in summer 7-on-7 drills with a camp that solidified his spot in the A-back rotation. He shined in limited chances in the scrimmages by flashing speed in catch-and-run plays. The word that follows Zenon like a shadow is "shifty," describing his quickness and ability to cut sharply without losing speed.

"I know I'm going to make mistakes and I'm still young, and I'm still learning the offense, but everything's going pretty good," Zenon said. "I’m just hoping I can make plays for the offense."