Georgia Tech defensive back Jalen Johnson (23) has made an impression on defensive coordinator Ted Roof.
Photo: Danny Karnik/Danny Karnik/GTAA
Photo: Danny Karnik/Danny Karnik/GTAA

5 things to know from Georgia Tech’s fifth practice

Georgia Tech went through its first practice in full pads Tuesday, its fifth session of the preseason. It was, in coach Paul Johnson’s estimation, “OK” and “typical” of a first workout in full pads, meaning positives mixed with mistakes and poor ball security, among other things.

Other things to know:

1. The offense and defense went at each other in live 11-on-11 work for about 20 minutes total in two separate sessions. Johnson didn’t have much to offer in the way of observations but appreciated the value of the work.

“I think it’ll prepare them team a little better because then they get to see what it’s really like,” he said. “Some of the guys that were real good in shorts weren’t as good in pads.”

Freshman B-backs Jerry Howard and Jordan Ponchez-Mason held up, apparently.

“Jerry’s hard to tackle, like I thought he would be,” Johnson said. “The other kid had a nice run or two, Mason. They were OK.”

2. Among playmakers from the first padded practice, according to participants:

Freshman defensive tackle Kelton Dawson. “I think they were about to run a reverse, and he made a play and stopped it,” defensive tackle Kyle Cerge-Henderson said.

Walk-on wide receiver Alan Bussolletti made a nice catch in a one-on-one drill.

“I don’t really talk to him that much, so I made sure after practice, I went to him, ‘Hey, that was a nice catch,’” Cerge-Henderson said.

Safety A.J. Gray forced a fumble, nickel back Lawrence Austin said.

“But,” Austin continued, “offense had a good day today, so we’ve got to get better defensively,”

3. Hopes are high for defensive back Jalen Johnson, who is backing Lawrence Austin at nickel back. Johnson missed the spring recovering from a surgical procedure.

“I expect him to be a really good football player for us and make a lot of plays,” defensive coordinator Ted Roof said. “He’s demonstrated that he has that ability, and now he needs to stay healthy and stay on the field and do that.”

Said Austin, “Jalen Johnson’s a great player. I have to bring my ‘A’ game every day to practice because I know he’s right behind me. He’s just pushing ,and I’m pushing him. I hope that guy gets on the field somewhere.”

4. Freshman defensive end Antwan Owens has given defensive line coach Mike Pelton a little bit of hope that he could contribute this season. Pelton said that Owens has picked up things quickly.

“Some of (the freshmen) are trying to figure it out, then go fast,” Pelton said. “Antwan’s one of those guys, he’s going fast and trying to figure everything else out. He’s working and he has that prototype body, so hopefully we’ll see here within the next couple of weeks if he’s one of those guys that can possibly break into the rotation.”

5. Roof has his talking points in regular-season form.

“I think they came in in good shape and have worked hard so far,” he said of the linebackers. “I know you’re probably going to be shocked to hear me say his, but we’ve got a long ways to go.”


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