Georgia Tech defensive lineman Zeek Biggers big part of Yellow Jackets’ defense

Georgia Tech defensive lineman Zeek Biggers (88) blocks a pass by Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong (5) during the first half of a game at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta on Thursday, October 20, 2022. (Hyosub Shin /


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Georgia Tech defensive lineman Zeek Biggers (88) blocks a pass by Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong (5) during the first half of a game at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta on Thursday, October 20, 2022. (Hyosub Shin /



As a 14-year-old, Zeek Biggers took a class trip to the Dominican Republic. While there he was mistaken, repeatedly, for an NFL player.

“I wasn’t even 15 years old yet,” Biggers laughs about that oft-told story.

Biggers always has been, well, bigger. And because of his extraordinary frame, the expectations for him to be an elite football talent have followed. It’s fair to argue Biggers hasn’t fully met those expectations quite yet.

Georgia Tech is counting on its big man in the middle of the defensive line to start having his best games in a white-and-gold uniform. He may have turned a corner last time out in a loss at Ole Miss.

“He played, probably, his best game last week,” Tech coach Brent Key said on the weekly “Brent Key Coach’s Show.” “The consistency is what I’ve really been on him with. He’s one I’ve been hard on because he has so much ability in there. He’s worked so hard to get his body in the right place to lose the weight.

“I’m excited for him this weekend, I really am. I really hope that he has a game where he breaks out and really does what he can do and takes over a game in the front, which I know he’s got the ability to go do.”

Biggers spent his entire youth in Salisbury, North Carolina, about 42 miles south of Allegacy Stadium, where the Yellow Jackets (1-2, 0-1) will play Wake Forest (3-0) at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Five years after his birth, entering the world weighing 11 pounds, Biggers began to play football.

Involvement in sports ran in Biggers’ family, he said. He watched his older brother excel in football, and his uncle, Raymond Taylor, played tight end at Western Carolina. Biggers’ size allowed him to thrive on the gridiron and on the basketball court as well since he was, “like, 6-2 in middle school,” he said.

Biggers averaged eight points and eight rebounds his senior season for the West Rowan High basketball team and was an all-county selection. He also took up competing in field events in track and field.

Like many of his peers, however, navigating the recruiting waters as a rising prep football prospect during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic was somewhat tricky. He visited Tech on March 13, 2020, the same day the outbreak was declared a national emergency.

Biggers committed to Tech two months later and signed with the program in December of that year. He then played his senior season for West Rowan in the spring of 2021, just a few months before he moved to Atlanta to play for the Jackets.

“(Biggers) was on campus the day quarantine started. The day things shut down, he was the last recruit that we had on campus,” former Tech defensive line coach Larry Knight told “Inside the Chart” on the Georgia Tech athletics web site in 2021. “Him and his mom got a chance to see us practice, got a chance to see the facilities, got a chance to meet everybody. So they were comfortable with us by the time it was time to make a decision.”

Biggers came to Atlanta weighing north of 330 pounds and, as fate would have it, was assigned to be a roommate with Malik Rutherford, a 5-foot-9 wideout from Miami who then weighed 138 pounds.

Two seasons later, Biggers is the starting nose tackle intent on putting together a breakout season that makes professional scouts take notice. He played nine games as a freshman in 2021 and totaled nine stops, played every game in 2022 and made 32 tackles and has been in the starting lineup through Tech’s first three games of this season.

His nimbleness and athletic ability were on display in Oxford, Mississippi, when he got his hand on a 55-yard field-goal attempt by the Rebels. That was Biggers’ second blocked kick of his career.

Now down to 315 pounds and listed at 6-foot-6, Biggers is playing as confidently as he was during his prep days. He was Tech’s highest-graded pass rusher at Ole Miss, according to Pro Football Focus, and is the Jackets’ sixth-highest graded defensive player overall.

“I’ve grown a lot. I’m a completely, totally different person from my freshman year. My mentality is different, how I approach the game, how I approach practice,” Biggers said. “(When I got here), the workouts, seeing the different tempo and how everybody around was matching my competition level, that was different for me. I was such a big kid in high school, and everybody else wasn’t at that level yet.

“When I got here, everybody was kinda my size. It was an adjustment to that, and to the speed of the game in college.”

Saturday’s game won’t be the first for Biggers in his home state. He made two tackles in a win at Duke in 2021 and three stops in a win at North Carolina last season. But it certainly will be the closest to his hometown, which will allow some more of his immediate family, such as his mother, Kelly Taylor, to support Biggers in person.

Biggers said Taylor is a big reason why he strives to succeed. He wants to, “retire her soon,” he said. His older sister, Tayloria Kesler, also has been instrumental in shaping Biggers into the person he has become (not physically, of course).

Biggers has one season of college football eligibility left after 2023. When asked about his goals for how he wants to end his career, Biggers went big.

“I’m going to take my game to the next level,” he decreed. “Going to continue to get better, get more sacks and (tackles for loss) and stuff like that. Hopefully this year and next year we can be ACC champions, then I can get to the NFL. That’s the dream.”

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