It’s been an unpredictable season for the Georgia Tech offensive line, but in Saturday’s win against Virginia Tech, walk-on Bailey Ivemeyer stepped up in a big way.
The Yellow Jackets entered the season with what appeared to be a fairly deep and talented offensive line. But a season-ending injury to left tackle Andrew Marshall before the Tennessee game was only the beginning of nagging injuries and inconsistent play from the unit.
Ivemeyer, a sophomore from Snellville, began to work his way into playing time as the season progressed and Paul Johnson needed some type of a production on a line that wore frighteningly thin at times. He earned his way into his first career start against the Hokies on Saturday and impressed enough to play every offensive snap there.
Ivemeyer didn’t know he’d be depended upon that much, but he didn’t have any complaints.
“That was really more of a game-time decision,” Ivemeyer said laughingly. “It’s just kind of … keep going until they say something.”
Not only did he not know he’d play every snap … he didn’t know he’d be starting until right before the game, which made for an interesting moment after the game. Ivemeyer’s family is nowdeeply rooted into Tech, and his sister, a freshman this year, quickly found him after the game for a comment.
“They were all pretty excited,” Ivemeyer said about his family. “Like I said, I didn’t really know if I was going to start or not. So my sister is a freshman this year, and she came up and hit me after the game and said, ‘you’ve got to let us know stuff like that,’ and I said, ‘I didn’t really know, so I couldn’t help you out.”’
Ivemeyer is one of multiple Jackets this season who are following in their father’s footsteps to play at Tech. John Ivemeyer played at Tech from 1981-84 with Tre Swilling (Bruce Jordan-Swilling, Tre Swilling), Ted Roof (T.D. Roof), Kevin Henderson (Kyle Cerge-Henderson) and also current athletic director Todd Stansbury -- creating an improbable amount of ties to the current team. John Ivemeyer also played on the offensive line, making the experience for his son on Saturday one that he’ll never forget as his father watched from the stands.
“It’s definitely a cool experience,” Ivemeyer said. “I had a bunch of people text me after the game from Brookwood (High School), just from all over … family and friends. And especially being at the same position my dad played and started, that was a really surreal experience for me.”
Ivemeyer first caught attention with playing time in the loss at Clemson, leading up to the offensive line having one of its better performances of the season against Virginia Tech. They protected TaQuon Marshall, allowing him to step up and make throws downfield. He completed two of them for 140 yards and two touchdowns, and the Yellow Jackets pulled out a 28-22 win over the ranked Hokies.
“We watched film today, I definitely think pass protection was one of the better aspects of the game playing as an offensive line,” Ivemeyer said. “We came together, made some good calls, made a few tweaks … week to week just keep getting better. We’ve worked a lot on sets and stuff just trying to improve that going forward.”
It was a step forward for a unit that has had pieces moving around constantly. Parker Braun and Kenny Cooper have been the only true mainstays at their positions, as Johnson has tried to mix and match through injuries and struggles around him. With Ivemeyer playing every snap and fulfilling his assignments for the most part, Johnson may have found another spot to depend on for the remaining games.
“I thought Bailey did well for starting his first game,” Johnson said Monday. “He played a lot against Clemson. He did a nice job, he held his own.”
About the only negative for Ivemeyer came in the second half when he was called for a chop-block penalty that pushed the Jackets back from deep inside Virginia Tech territory and eventually forced a punt. Johnson originally said it was a bad call, but he withdrew his statement Monday after watching it on video.
For Ivemeyer, he’s played his way into a path of receiving a scholarship that Johnson rewards every year when he has the opportunity. He gave out four this season, to Brady Swilling, Chase Martenson, Zach Matthews and Josh Selembo.
“Yeah, definitely,” Ivemeyer said when asked about being driven by playing as a walk-on. “Last year, looking at all the hard work (offensive lineman) Michael Muns put in and finally getting that scholarship his last year, and just hearing about legacies and different guys ahead of me who have kind of done that same kind of stuff … definitely paved the way for inspiration to say the least.”
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