Geoff Collins’ expectation for season: ’growth, development’

Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins spoke with media Tuesday by videoconference in advance of the Yellow Jackets' season opener Saturday against Florida State in Tallahassee, Fla. Aside from offering insights into the music play list at practice (Wednesday’s mix is devoted to Atlanta musicians, such as OutKast, Lil Baby and Future. No word if the Indigo Girls made the cut.), Collins gave updates on the team’s preparations for Florida State and the season ahead.

1. There were five members of the 2020 signing class on the first “Above the Line” chart, compared with 10 on the chart in last year’s season opener. It was something of a surprise, given that the 2020 class was Tech’s highest-ranked since the 2007 class.

Collins saw it as a reflection of the depth that returned from last season’s team. In the secondary, for instance, all but one of the 12 players in the final ATL chart last season returned, and then Tobias Oliver joined the group at cornerback.

“We have so much returning experience,” Collins said. “But the developmental piece is going to be huge.”

Players such as cornerback Miles Brooks or defensive end Jared Ivey won’t see the field as early as might have been expected, but they will have more time to physically develop and get practice time on the scout team (which runs the same plays as the Jackets offense and defense). And, with all fall-sports athletes getting an extra season of eligibility, they can start next season with four seasons of eligibility regardless of how many games they play this season.

Collins said he reminded the freshmen, many of whom he expects to bring on the travel roster for the sake of experience even if there is little chance that they’ll play, of defensive end Curtis Ryans, who began last season on the scout team but finished the season in the starting lineup.

“We’ve got a lot of young, raw talent that we’re in the process of developing, but I do think with all the talent that we have returning, we’re not having to force them into the ATL list right now,” Collins said.

2. Collins said that defensive back Jaytlin Askew “will be a huge factor” on special teams this season. Collins likened his impact to Nathan Cottrell, who turned his role as a special-teams ace last season into a spot on the Jacksonville Jaguars practice squad.

“I think Jaytlin Askew is going to be one of the elite special-teams players in college football,” Collins said.

3. Collins declined to say whether any players will not be able to play in Saturday’s game either for a positive COVID-19 test or quarantining after exposure to a positive case.

“We don’t report on those things,” Collins said.

4. Regarding Tech being picked to finish last in the ACC, Collins said that “we don’t worry about outside opinions,” but also noted that “I’m sure (the ranking) ended up here and there, on a couple of group text messages and things like that.”

5. Collins was asked what the expectations should be for the season.

His response: “Just the growth, the development. And just when you go out there, or you see us during pregame, the length, the speed, the attitude, the cohesiveness on both sides of the ball. We’re working really, really hard to put a really good product out on the field and the basis is guys that play with a ridiculous amount of effort, play together, play really, really hard. More comfortable within our system. … But the biggest thing is a team that plays together, plays really, really hard, fights for each other and plays at a really high level.

"That’s the expectation every day. In every single week that we’re here, the expectation is to get better learn from every experience good and bad that we might go through and play at a high level.”