Improved Jalen Camp ready to take on bigger role

Georgia Tech freshman wide receiver Jalen Camp was one of the more impressive first-year players in preseason camp. (GT Athletics/Danny Karnik)

During the offseason, Georgia Tech wide receiver Jalen Camp made sure to link up with quarterback TaQuon Marshall as often as he could. The two just needed a football and a field.

“Coming in, I knew my role would be bigger,” Camp said. “This summer, I tried to make it a point to get him out of the house, hit him up on weekends … work on our timing.”

Come preseason camp and the season, Marshall wanted to be ahead of the curve, just one of the strides he’s made to embrace being one of the top targets in the offense this season.

A year ago, Camp found himself third on the depth chart behind Ricky Jeune and Brad Stewart. With Jeune now in the NFL, Camp will be thrust into the starting lineup with plenty of additional responsibility on his plate.

While he has only one reception in his career — a 49-yard catch that set up a touchdown against Virginia last season — that’s hardly the top priority for a receiver in coach Paul Johnson’s triple-option offense. Where Camp will contribute most, his coach said, is with his pure strength.

“He’s had a good camp so far. I think he’s always been a pretty good blocker — he’s a big, strong kid,” Johnson said. “He might be — not might be — shoot, he’s the strongest receiver by a mile.”

Camp has heard gripes about his consistency in the blocking game more than a few times — and he feels it’s one of the two areas he’s most improved during the offseason, alonside his route-running.

“In terms of blocking, I think I can use my strength a lot,” Camp said. “In terms of route-running, coming in and out of my breaks when a defender tries to jam me, I can use my strength to get his hands off me or try to re-route me off my route.”

Johnson has long stressed that consistency was the key for Camp. His talent is clear. Once he showed it on a regular basis, he would unlock his potential.

Johnson said the increase in reps will help alleviate that problem on its own.

“He’s just gotta be confident in his ability, and playing more will hopefully help that — you don’t have to think, you know where to go, you know how to react,” Johnson said. “You don’t have to think, ‘What am I supposed to do here?’ and then it’s too late.”

In practice, Camp has been going head-to-head with cornerback Ajani Kerr, duking it out to claim the upper hand with each rep, each day. In the monotonous heat, it often takes this individual motivation to crawl through the dog days of practice.

But who’s winning? Camp smiles.

“That’s me right now.”

Georgia Tech football coach Paul Johnson was born Aug. 20, 1957, in Newland, North Carolina. Johnson was hired and introduced Dec. 7, 2007 as Tech's 12th football coach, beginning with John Heisman in 1904. Tech defeated Jacksonville State 41-14 on Aug. 28, 2008, in Johnson's debut as Yellow Jackets coach. Johnson's Georgia Southern teams won Division I-AA (now FCS) national championships in 1999 and 2000. Johnson coached six seasons at Navy and was 43-19 over the final five, after a 2-10 first season. Jo

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