Georgia Tech’s spring of position flexibility has incorporated quarterback Tobias Oliver. Last season’s backup to TaQuon Marshall has played some snaps at nickel back.
“We got a few days earlier in the spring and continue to kind of just give him reps and just see how that develops,” cornerbacks coach Jeff Popovich said Tuesday following the team’s 10th practice of the spring.
Coach Geoff Collins has been moving players from offense to defense and vice versa, or moving them between positions on one side of the ball, to take a look at how different players handle new positions. Some of it is to address depth at various positions, but it’s also to experiment and potentially find new roles for players.
“I think he’s obviously an incredible athlete,” Popovich said of Oliver. “The thing is, he’s extremely valuable as a quarterback, as well, so it’s kind of one of those, ‘Hey, we’d love to kind of play him a couple snaps on defense, but at the same time, the offense wants him on offense.’”
Other players who have spent time on the opposite side of the ball are wide receiver Jair Hawkins-Anderson (cornerback), offensive linemen Connor Hansen and Jahaziel Lee (defensive line), defensive end Justice Dingle (tight end) and defensive tackle Quon Griffin (fullback).
Cornerback Jaytlin Askew, who is sitting out the spring as he recovers from shoulder surgery, said that Oliver can play any position he wants because of his athletic ability. Last season, Oliver subbed for Marshall at quarterback and ran for 876 yards and 12 touchdowns as a redshirt freshman. Had former coach Paul Johnson not elected to step down, Oliver figured to be a strong candidate to start, but is competing with Lucas Johnson and James Graham for the starting job.
“I’ve seen him get in about once or twice, but I don’t think he’s going to do it too much because he is the quarterback; they don’t want to see him get hurt,” Askew said. “But I think if they let go full go with it, he would be good in it.”
Position changes aren’t uncommon with changes in coaching staff, and in spring practice in general. Popovich compared Collins to a wizard in regard to trying players at new positions.
“There’s a million moving parts, and he’s kind of just moving ’em around,” Popvoch said. “He’s definitely the one behind it, but (he) throws out suggestions and ideas in our staff meetings and says, ‘Hey, what do you guys think about this?’ And it’s kind of like, ‘Hey, yeah, let’s try that and see.’”