Newly hired Georgia Tech football coach Geoff Collins speaks during a news conference Friday, Dec. 7, 2018, in Atlanta.
Photo: AP Photo/John Bazemore
Photo: AP Photo/John Bazemore

Some roster-management questions facing Geoff Collins

When Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins described his new signees for an online broadcast Wednesday, a phrase he went back to often was “position flexibility.”

For instance, with his speed and pass-catching ability, running back Devin Ellison from Jacksonville, Fla., has it. Quarterback Demetrius Knight from Strong Rock Christian in Henry County could play offense or defense. Defensive lineman D’Quan Douse, with some tight end experience at Calvary Day School in Savannah, could double as a short-yardage tight end. Safety Jeremiah Smith from Grayson High could play nickel back.

These likely weren’t idle observations. With a drastic schematic change coming for the offense and a significant one coming for the defense, many Jackets players will likely be trying out new positions as they transition to a new head coach and staff. That could well include the more position flexible of the 16 signees who will be arriving in either January as early enrollees or in June.

The numbers almost dictate it. For example, among scholarship returnees and incoming freshmen, there are 11 running backs (B-backs and A-backs) including signees Ellison and Tony Amerson from Montgomery, Ala. There are 10 wide receivers, including three signees – Ahmarean Brown (Tampa, Fla.), Pope High’s Zach Owens and Kalani Norris (Miami). That’s good balance for outgoing coach Paul Johnson’s offense, but not for Collins’ pro-style scheme.

The Temple roster that Collins left behind has five running backs and a fullback on scholarship and 13 wide receivers. It likely means, among other things, that some backs will move to receiver or perhaps to defense. Among others, A-backs such as Omahri Jarrett and Dontae Smith would seem candidates to play slot receiver.

Collins added two tight ends – signee Dylan Deveney (Medford, N.J.) and graduate transfer Tyler Davis from Connecticut, who will arrive in January. But he’d presumably like more.

Collins had five scholarship tight ends on the roster this year at Temple and eight total. Johnson had two suggestions this week – freshman defensive linemen Luke Johns and Curtis Ryans, the latter of whom is a walk-on. Both, he said, would be “really good” as tight ends.

Another balancing matter Collins may have to address is offense/defense. Including newcomers, there are 44 scholarship players on offense and 38 on defense, along with two specialists. It wouldn’t be a surprise if one of the five quarterbacks on scholarship, such as Tobias Oliver or James Graham, switched to defense. Both had colleges recruiting them to play defensive back out of high school. It was not an unusual route during Johnson’s time. Safety Christian Campbell began his Tech career at quarterback.

Collins could probably use more defensive linemen also. He has 12 scholarship players in that group – seven will be freshmen, redshirt or first-year – where he had 16 at Temple.

With its additions this week, Tech stands at 84 scholarships for the 2019-20 academic year, leaving Collins one more to reach the 85-player limit. Collins could go over that limit and sign more than one player in the February signing period, but he would be banking on one or more players leaving the team, perhaps by transfer.

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