Georgia Tech is still looking for wide receivers. Coach Paul Johnson moved defensive back Jalen Johnson to receiver prior to Monday’s practice in hopes of finding another player who can contribute at the position.
Paul Johnson said he moved the redshirt freshman there “to see if he can beat the other guys out. He wasn’t going to play on defense.”
Jalen Johnson redshirted last season. He last played as a high-school junior in Oneonta, Ala., in the 2012 season, playing both wide receiver and defensive back. He missed his senior season in 2013 after tearing his ACL in the preseason.
Three wide receivers have emerged in the preseason for the No. 16 Yellow Jackets– Micheal Summers, Ricky Jeune and Brad Stewart. Summers, a junior, has started 19 game, but has not been impactful. Further, he has been out for a week with an undisclosed injury. Johnson said he thought that he would be back in time for the opener Sept. 3 against Alcorn State, but “we’d like to get him back a day or two early if he’s going to play.”
Jeune, a sophomore, mostly played on special teams last season and did not have a catch. Stewart, a first-year freshman, has impressed coaches with his playmaking ability.
However, Johnson said. “It’s still a big jumble behind the first three.”
Candidates include sophomore Antonio Messick, walk-on Brandon Oliver, first-year freshmen Harland Howell and Christian Philpott and, now, Johnson. Messick played on a limited basis last season, with one catch, a touchdown.
Prior to the preseason, Johnson said that wide receiver was his biggest concern on offense, more than B-back or A-back, where there is also an experience shortage. Tech lost three of its top four receivers last season – DeAndre Smelter, Darren Waller and Corey Dennis. Smelter and Waller were both NFL draftees.
The position is often dismissed due to Tech’s reliance on the run. However, receivers play a significant role with perimeter blocking in the running game and can also contribute by taking advantage of single coverage to spring big plays in the passing game. In Tech’s two best seasons under Johnson, 2009 and 2014, the Jackets were aided by the two best seasons receivers have had at Tech since his hire, from Demaryius Thomas (2009) and Smelter last season.