Georgia Tech began practice for its 127th season Wednesday and its first with coach Geoff Collins.

Under clear skies and in temperatures in the mid-80’s, players worked out in helmets, jerseys and shorts as they begin the acclimatization process to practicing in full pads.

Five observations from the opening periods of practice that were open to the media.

1. Senior Nathan Cottrell was with the running backs after spending most of the spring at slot receiver. Cottrell played A-back in coach Paul Johnson’s offense. Players at the position have transitioned to both running back and receiver.

He is at a position with no shortage of competition, with Jordan Mason, Jerry Howard, Christian Malloy and Dontae Smith (another former A-back) among the returnees, along with freshmen Jamious Griffin, Devin Ellison and Tony Amerson.

Cottrell moved to slot receiver later in the practice, Collins said.

2. As was the case in the spring, practice moved at a brisk pace. In an 11-on-11 session, the ball was being snapped about twice every 60 seconds, and there were two groups running plays at either end of the practice field. Coaches have stressed the importance of getting a high volume of practice repetitions for players in order to evaluate them and get them trained in the schemes.

3. Quarterback Tobias Oliver was not present at practice. Oliver was sick, according to the team.

4. There was no gentle easing into practice for the freshmen.

In one of the first periods of the practice, players moved through special-teams stations. In one drill, one player was trying to get downfield and run through a set of cones about 20 yards away while another was trying to block him off his path. Freshman linebacker Cornelius Evans had the former role, but was blocked away from the cones and came to a stop, failing to run through the cones, much to defensive coordinator Andrew Thacker’s chagrin. Thacker lit into him for not knowing the “expectations of the drill.”

5. Collins shared a moment with new assistant equipment manager Kane Ivers-Osthus before the start of practice. The two met when Collins was defensive coordinator at Florida and Ivers-Osthus was a student assistant in the equipment room. Ivers-Osthus became Collins’ right-hand man, to the point that Collins brought Ivers-Osthus to Temple when he was hired there as head coach in December 2016.

However, Ivers-Osthus contracted an aggressive and rare form of leukemia and nearly died last fall, but recovered after several months of hospitalization and rehabilitation and no shortage of support from Collins and the Temple staff. Collins hired him to Tech in July, and Wednesday was their first day back together on a practice field.

Before practice, Ivers-Osthus handed Collins his whistle, and the two shared a hug before they ran off, each to his own responsibilities.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

X