Could Georgia Tech’s roster turnover be a positive?

For all the students out there navigating the first few weeks at new schools, Paul Tchio knows your angst. He may be an ACC football player and one recruited as a transfer to Georgia Tech from powerhouse Clemson, but apparently some experiences are universal.

“Coming in, I was definitely nervous, just starting off at a new school,” Tchio said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Definitely a lot of anxiety and stuff.”

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Former Alabama offensive lineman Pierce Quick, now a Yellow Jacket – same deal.

“It’s a little bit nervous coming in as a transfer,” Quick said. “You don’t know which guys are going to like you, which guys aren’t.”

Fortunately for both, the two made friends and have found their place at Tech.

“I feel like when I came in, there wasn’t anybody that was, like, negative or anything like that,” Quick said. “It was more of like everybody was accepting.”

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Tchio said he felt he’d be OK after the first offensive-line meeting of the spring with line coach Brent Key.

“After that Day 1, seeing how much I was already learning in the short amount of time I was already here, I feel like I knew I was going to be OK here,” Tchio said.

Tchio and Quick’s newcomer experiences have been duplicated with 15 other transfers over this past offseason and with 15 incoming freshmen. The turnover, along with seven of 10 assistant coaches also being new, is a defining characteristic of coach Geoff Collins’ fourth team, the 130th in school history. The Jackets venture into the season Monday against No. 4 Clemson at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (8 p.m., ESPN).

“They’ve got a bunch of new faces,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Thursday. “I mean, a bunch of new faces, across the board, on the coaching staff and with their personnel on the field. There’s a lot of unknowns.”

Among power-conference schools, only USC (with 20) added more players through the portal than Tech, according to 247Sports. The spree was necessary because of a smaller-than-usual high-school signing class and losing no fewer than 39 scholarship players from last year’s season-opening roster because of expired eligibility, transfers and players leaving the team to turn professional or for other reasons. (The number was enlarged by a number of “super seniors” who were using an extra season of eligibility as allowed by COVID-19 rules and didn’t count against the 85-player scholarship limit.)

The peril of such change is obvious, particularly in a make-or-break season for Collins and his staff. New player and new schemes make for a lot of adjustment. However, players have said − both arrivals and returnees − that the transition has gone smoothly.

“It just feels like we’ve never been this close as a team,” said quarterback Jeff Sims, who has two transfers (Zach Gibson from Akron and Taisun Phommachanh from Clemson) in his position group. “It just feels like we’re all here for each other.”

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Typically, continuity is a prized commodity − players who know the playbook, understand the locker-room culture and have developed close bonds with their teammates. Is it possible that such a significant makeover after three consecutive three-win seasons actually could be helpful?

“I think it’s good because, obviously, we need change,” tight end Dylan Leonard said. “I think new people is great. I feel like, especially with all the transfers, we’ve found out who wanted to be here, and we want people who want to be here. And the people who came in obviously want to be here, so I would say it is a good thing. Because obviously, we need to change. We lost some good players, but also got a lot of good players.”

With Quick, Tchio and Phommachanh, there is the potential benefit of an infusion in habits and mindset of players coming from championship programs.

“The No. 1 thing that I kind of wanted to bring from Alabama was just the mentality of winning,” Quick said. “When you’re at Alabama, every game you go into, it’s not, ‘Are we going to win?’ It’s, ‘We are going to win.’ You go into it knowing you’re going to win. I want to bring that here.”

Tchio, who will line up Monday night against former teammates, said that he similarly wanted to share the winning mentality that he learned at Clemson.

“Because winning is hard, honestly,” Tchio said. “There’s so many factors you can’t control that determine the outcome of a game. But we’ve just been trying to get other guys to really understanding the importance of having the little details down − having the locker room clean − just little things like that. It all works hand in hand.”

Phommachanh wanted to model that attention to detail − footwork, understanding the playbook at a minute level, showing focus by doing things like running on and off the field instead of walking.

“It’s just stuff like that that put us in position to have success,” he said.

As a guard, Mike Maye works closely with Quick and Tchio. Their example hasn’t escaped his attention.

“I’ve just noticed that they’re technicians with everything they do,” Maye said. “They’re really technical with everything and really sound on it. They don’t stray away from that, and that’s something that I try to incorporate in what I do.”

Of the 17 transfers, 14 were a part of bowl teams at their previous schools. Of players on the roster who came to Tech out of high school, 10 remain who were on the Jackets’ last bowl team, in 2018 in coach Paul Johnson’s final season.

That said, Clemson has a bit of an edge over Tech in players who’ve been on bowl teams, as will likely all of Tech’s FBS opponents, with the possible exception of Duke. And there are other reasons why expectations are dim for the Jackets, who were picked to finish sixth in the ACC Coastal Division. But, needing positives wherever they can be found, Tech will accept the help its many transfers can provide, whatever the form.

“Everybody’s expectation is to win,” said running back Dylan McDuffie, formerly of Buffalo and a member of three bowl teams. “We want to win every game. Every time we step on the field, we want to win every rep in practice. So that’s the expectation from top to bottom, coach Collins to everybody on this roster. The expectation is to win, and that’s what we plan to do.”