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9 things you may not have known before Georgia Tech-Alcorn State

More to read as Georgia Tech heads to the season opener against Alcorn State.

Audition at center

Offensive lineman Jahaziel Lee has made it clear that he prefers center to offensive tackle, where he played his first two seasons. Lee finds offensive tackle more difficult, he said, because the assignments vary from week to week at tackle, while they’re evidently more consistent at center.

As such, he’d like to stay there, even when center Kenny Cooper comes back from a foot injury suffered at the end of spring practice (which prompted Lee’s shift from tackle). So Saturday’s game is Lee’s opportunity to further demonstrate to coaches that he should stay at center. If that happens, Cooper might come back to play right guard and possibly rotate with Brad Morgan.

“Definitely it motivates me to want to just get really good at this position, especially one that I really like and for me to continue to get better,” Lee said.

Quarterback TaQuon Marshall has approved of Lee’s work thus far.

‘I know it’s tough going from never snapping in your life to snapping every play, so he’s done a phenomenal job,” Marshall said.

Lee’s versatility, by the way, earned guard Parker Braun’s approval. While multiple linemen play more than one position – Will Bryan played both tackles and right guard last season – Braun is virtually cemented at left guard.

“It’s good to be comfortable and just stay where you’re at, but I’m proud of the guys that can do that like Will and Jahaziel,” he said. “It’s impressive to be able to do that.”

Meanwhile, Bryan has said that he would prefer to stay in one place. Coach Paul Johnson said that it’s possible his commute between guard and tackle could continue, however.

Parker Braun, academic paragon

When Johnson spoke Tuesday about his heightened attempts to get players’ attention by upgrading the disciplinary measure for infractions such as missing breakfast check or class from running at 6 a.m. to missing playing time (hence the suspension of three players from the first quarter of the season opener), he held up Braun as something of a virtuous example in explaining how he’ll leave room for judgement when meting out consequences.

“Parker’s been here for three years, he never missed anything to my knowledge, he’s never missed a class, never missed breakfast check,” Johnson said. “If all of the sudden he misses breakfast check and he calls in and goes, ‘Oh, my god, coach, five minutes late and my clock didn’t go off’ – O.K., I got you. Now, if I’ve got another guy who does that who missed 25, probably not going to listen as much.”

Braun’s spotless attendance record was brought up when he spoke to reporters later that day. He offered a slight correction.

Said Braun, “I’ve never been caught.”

He suspected his honesty perhaps wasn’t the wisest.

“Well, now they’re going to be checking,” he said.

Braun, perhaps not surprisingly, has been named academic All-ACC for the past two seasons.

“It’s not hard,” he said. “When you’ve got a class schedule, you’ve got to go do it. It’s really not that hard.”

Support for Jordan-Swilling 

Linebacker Bruce Jordan-Swilling might not have a bigger fan on the roster (with the possible exception of his brother Tre) than David Curry, who is starting ahead of Jordan-Swilling but fully expects to platoon.
“I think he’s a phenomenal football player and an athlete,” Curry said. “So I think we’re both going to play a lot, and it’s going to be a good season to see how both of us play.”

Get there early

Fans attending the game are strongly encouraged to arrive early for Saturday’s 12:30 p.m. kickoff. It will be the first time with the new security measures – notably a clear-bag policy – which may delay entry. Further, multiple events downtown – including Dragon Con – could cause traffic issues.

Fans will note that there have been updates to the security measures. Checking the Tech website might be worth your time.

From the athletic director

In his monthly podcast, athletic director Todd Stansbury noted the delays that some season-ticket holders have experienced in receiving their gold t-shirts that were to accompany purchases of the ticket plan. Stansbury said that 12,000 fans had received shirts out of about 20,000. While it’s unclear how many fans have had issues, as some have yet to go online to claim their shirts, hundreds of fans have contacted the athletic department to make known problems with delivery. (An earlier version of this post stated that the number was in the thousands.)

“We were very ambitious,” Stansbury said. “We had to push our partners, both Fanatics and Adidas, and we all had to kind of figure out how we were going to do that in short order, because, of course, our contract with Adidas really didn’t start until July 1.”

Stansbury spoke of “bumps along the way” but said that “our main thing is, we want to make sure we take care of all of our fans.” He said fans with issues (about the t-shirts) can contact the department at tickets@athletics.gatech.edu.

There have been other supply-chain issues in getting Tech/Adidas gear to market, which he has previously noted. On the Fanatics website Friday, there were 18 Tech items from Adidas, two of them for women (both long-sleeve shirts) and one for youth and none in gold.

A change in the booth

The opener will mark a transition of a fixture in the Tech broadcast booth. Tommy Barber, a Tech alumnus, has been a spotter for Tech play-by-play men Al Ciraldo, Wes Durham, Brandon Gaudin and Andy Demetra, starting in the fall of 1972. He will take a well-deserved leave from the position to spend time with family. Demetra wrote an endearing profile of Barber for the Tech website that’s worth a read.

Barber will be replaced by Adam Parther, who graduated in May from Tech after serving as a manager for the men’s basketball team and an assistant in the athletic communications office. He will join Al Ciraldo Jr, who has himself been ensconced in the broadcast booth since 1978.

Also moving on is Randy Waters, who has led the pregame show for five years. Tech alum Wiley Ballard, also the sideline reporter, will now lead the pregame, roles he served last year on an interim basis for Waters.

The droll Paul Johnson

While also on the topic of player discipline, Johnson was asked about the cumulative effect of breaches of team rules such as being on time for appointments with academic advisers or going to study hall.

Said Johnson, “I can’t point to an instance where a guy missed a breakfast check that lost a close game, but I just think it all kind of plays in.”

Bill Curry, recruiting dazzler

Hopefully you read my story about the first games in the careers of Tech legends Joe Hamilton, Robert Lavette and Randy Rhino. There were pieces of interviews that couldn’t make it into the story, one of which was particularly worth sharing, I thought.

It had to do with Lavette’s recruitment out of Cartersville High. Lavette was highly sought after, fielding offers from Georgia, Michigan, Auburn and Tennessee, among others.

On a visit to Tech, coach Bill Curry made a big impression on Lavette by introducing him to Anderw Young, who at that point was between his appointment as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and his election as mayor of Atlanta.

“That was a real thrill,” Lavette said. “I was very impressed.”

Recruiting may have changed drastically in some ways, but in others it has changed little.

Pronunciation guide

It’s ALL-corn State, not Al-corn State.

Stories from this week

Paul Johnson shared his thoughts on possibly redshirting quarterback James Graham

B-back KirVonte and freshmen Charlie Thomas and Quez Jackson will miss the first quarter of Saturday’s game as a disciplinary measure

Paul Johnson revealed the starting 22 for the Jackets on Saturday

Malik Rivera is a grad transfer from Wofford. Learn more about the player who will also be Tech’s starting free safety

Paul Johnson shed light into the first-quarter suspensions for three players and why he’s changing his policies on discipline

Linebacker Bruce Jordan-Swilling was in a scooter accident recently

Paul Johnson won’t play his freshmen willy nilly against Alcorn State, and has good reason for it

Walk-on Shawn Davis was the winner of the kicking competition. But it’s not over.

Tech all-time greats Joe Hamilton, Robert Lavette and Randy Rhino recall the nerves and excitement and, for two, the starring roles, in their first games as Jackets

There have been shifts on the Tech offensive line this week. It’s actually a good thing for Tech.

Paul Johnson confirmed that redshirt freshman Jordan Mason will be the starter at B-back against Alcorn State

Defensive end Anree Saint-Amour reflects the excitement of a new season, from Steve Hummer

WSB-TV’s Zach Klein sat down with quarterback TaQuon Marshall for an insightful and entertaining podcast interview

The Tech offense has more experience under its belt than any of the previous 10 offenses coached by Paul Johnson. Three former players explain why that’s so valuable.

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