Camp notebook: Georgia Tech coach Brent Key not concerned with preseason poll

Georgia Tech players run drills during a training camp at Georgia Tech’s indoor practice facility, Tuesday, August 1, 2023, in Atlanta. (Hyosub Shin /



Georgia Tech players run drills during a training camp at Georgia Tech’s indoor practice facility, Tuesday, August 1, 2023, in Atlanta. (Hyosub Shin /

Earlier this week, the annual ACC preseason media poll was released. The forecasted finish for Georgia Tech was not promising.

The league’s media picked the Yellow Jackets to finish 12th in the 14-team, now division-less league. Boston College was picked to end up 13th with Virginia last.

Such a prognostication could be used as bulletin-board fodder for some programs. Not for Tech coach Brent Key.

“I could care less. (The team) could care less, I could care less. Games are played on the field,” Key said. “I know it’s that time of year where everyone gets excited to see the rankings and see those things and be able to have a lot of good talking points for the next 3-4 weeks, that’s what makes college football special. It’s the passion around it, it’s the passion of people that cover it, it’s the passion of you guys in the jobs that you do to be able to get the information to put those things together.

“It means nothing to me. If I wasn’t coaching I’d be right there with you guys, reading them all and making the predictions. That’s not for us. Those external things have zero factor in how we come and practice every day.”

Tech is coming off a 4-4 mark in ACC play in 2021. It finished fourth in the league’s Coastal Division.

The Jackets last had a winning conference record in 2018 (5-3), haven’t won at least six conference games since 2014 and last won an ACC title in 2009.

Gibson motivated by lack of attention

Zach Gibson was candid Friday when asked about how he felt about the discourse, the discourse that Tech’s quarterback competition is between just two players: Zach Pyron and Haynes King.

Gibson, a junior, plans to be just as much a part of the QB battle as his peers.

“I hear the narrative. It’s hard not to hear it because my dad sends me something every two days,” Gibson said. “It has definitely driven me to work really hard this offseason. I’m just trying to put last year in the past. It is what it is. Just trying to focus on what’s next, what’s ahead, this season is this season.

“Obviously I had some bad moments, some really bad moments, and some good moments. That’s just with anything. The season is a long season, it’s 12 games, and all three quarterbacks are going to have an opportunity to play this year at some point.”

A 6-foot-3, 197-pound graduate of Johns Creek High, Gibson spent three seasons at Akron and had some bright moments there. In 2021 he threw 157 passes without an interception, completed 10 touchdown throws and connected on nearly 70% of his attempts.

Gibson didn’t make his Tech debut until Oct. 8 against Duke, a brief cameo in the Jackets’ 23-20 win. The following week did not go as well. A lackluster, 16-9 loss to Virginia at home saw Gibson go just 10-for-25 passing for 99 yards.

But a month later Gibson was at the heart of a 21-7, upset victory over North Carolina. He finished his season 57-of-104 for 589 yards in six games.

Only Jeff Sims played in more games at QB for the Jackets last season, yet Gibson appears to be the odd-man out when it comes to the external discussion of who should be Tech’s leader. Gibson’s father won’t stand for that.

“I told him to just let it be,” Gibson laughed. “Obviously, there’s been some things that have really irked a nerve, I guess you could say, but it is what it is. I’m not going to be happy with what everybody else has to say. I’m not worried about that.

“I’m just focused on how can I improve day to day?”

Stoudamire speaks to the team

The Jackets had a special guest speak to the team Wednesday when Tech men’s basketball coach Damon Stoudamire stopped by.

“The process is so, so hard. So when you guys gets 5-6 months from now, hopefully that process has paid off,” Stoudamire told the team, according to a video posted on the Tech football social-media channels. “In the meantime, early on, in them dog days, man, y’all got to remember what your goal is. Use that as motivation, but it’s still a process.

“Good day or bad day, the day is over, ask yourself at the end of each day, ‘Did I win the day?’ Challenge each other to be better between the lines.”

Stoudamire was hired by Tech in March. The former Boston Celtics assistant and Pacific coach was an All-American at Arizona and the NBA’s rookie of the year in 1996.

Brooks on Wuerffel Trophy watch list

Tech junior defensive back LaMiles Brooks is one of 110 players on the watch list for the 2023 Wuerffel Trophy, released Thursday. Established in 2005, the Wuerffel Trophy honors college football players who serve others, celebrates their impact and inspires greater service across the nation.

Brooks is one of Tech’s more active players in the community across all sports. His long list of volunteer activities includes: taking an international service trip to Villa del Rio, Puerto Rico, in May 2022 to help rebuild houses that were destroyed by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017; being part of an organization that helps prevent vulnerable children from being placed in the foster-care system; taking part in an annual service project spearheaded by Tech’s Student-Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) to collect and deliver toys to the Atlanta Children’s Shelter during the holiday season.

Brooks also is an active member Tech’s SAAB and this summer represented Tech at the 2023 Black Student-Athlete Summit in Los Angeles and the ACC Unity Tour in Washington, D.C.

Earlier this summer, Brooks was named one of 76 NCAA Division I FBS nominees for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team which similarly honors college football players for their service to the community.

Injury report

A few notable Jackets currently are sidelined because of injury, according to the Tech coaching staff.

Sophomore wide receiver Leo Blackburn, redshirt freshman wide receiver Juju Lewis and freshman defensive lineman Bryston Dixon all are working their way back from setbacks. Blackburn had five receptions for 81 yards and had a touchdown catch against Duke in 2022.

Georgia Tech's quarterback Zach Gibson (15) prepares to throw a ball during a training camp at Georgia Tech’s Rose Bowl Field, Tuesday, August 1, 2023, in Atlanta. (Hyosub Shin /


icon to expand image